Since ancient times the aroma of oil-bearing roses attracts travellers from near and far to the foot of the Balkan Mountain. But rose oil is just a hint at the true treasures that the Balkan hold; the mountain is a bountiful source of stories of inspiration. These are the stories of people who value their connection with nature. Nikola the shepherd, dedicated to the preservation of an endangered breed of livestock. His life philosophy is as simple as it is effective: he raises his sheep and buffaloes traditionally, and offers real dairy products that are highly praised among those who value quality food. Maya’s sweet secret for a sustainable enterprise; she produces jams, conserves and syrup from wild berries.
Dimitar the farmer, who finds inspiration in one of Bulgaria’s poorest but most beautiful regions. The harsh mountain weather, the pristine nature and the knowledge of the local people all lead him in his venture to bring an old breed of sheep back to life. His lambs feed on wild herbs, and their wool is used for the world-recognised Chiprovtsi carpets. Ivan the Wolfman; a man that knows intimately the wildlife in his beloved mountain. The look in the eyes of a dying wolf shot by him changed his life forever. Today he earns his living honourably, revealing the magic of wild wolves and golden eagles to nature lovers visiting the area. Rayna and her old craft; she makes traditional folklore costumes and her motto is that by looking after nature we actually look after our own selves. Man and Nature are one.
But how many of us are ready to follow in the steps of these people of the Balkan Mountain?
My work on the film project gave me an exciting opportunity to hear the stories of a handful of enterprising Bulgarians who run sustainable businesses at the foot of the Balkan Mountain. The idea that one can earn their living honourably, in harmony with nature, is not new. Alas, modern-day man seems to accept all that Planet Earth has to offer as a free gift; we have grown careless in our attitude to nature, our home. Some people might say extinction of species, natural river bed destruction, agricultural pesticides are not a problem as they do not affect them directly. I, on the other hand, prefer to live by an old saying that my Grandfather loved: ‘You reap what you sow!’
I think the heroes of this story are on the front line – they live closest to the pristine forests and the clean rivers of the Balkan Mountain, and their income depends directly on its treasures. They are the most passionate about the well-being of our nature, and they depend on it highly. And they are the first witnesses to the problems in the forests, resulting in landslides and deteriorating water supply. Perhaps exactly for this reason they are well aware that our connection with nature is crucial, and that the key to good health and longevity is hidden in the real food nature provides for us.
I decided to take up the challenge of filming For the Balkan & the People driven by my wish to tell the inspiring stories of these Balkan people. I wish to be an optimist and hope that their enthusiasm may infect others too. And I believe that any movie that has that spirit and says things can be changed is worth making.
- original title: За Балкана и хората Za Balkana i horata
- alternate titles: For the Balkan & the People
- country: Bulgaria
- release date: December 2016
- filming format: HD
- screening format: HD, BD, DVD
- picture: colour, 1.78:1
- sound: stereo 2.0
- runtime: 34 min
- rating category: B (Bulgaria – All ages admitted)
- original language: Bulgarian
- subtitles: English, Bulgarian
- IMDb: imdb.com/title/tt6876306
- сайт: monoco.eu/balkanpeople