Podcast in English
Text size
Bulgarian National Radio © 2023 All Rights Reserved

Heart-shaped glass shards, or what the real face of war looks like – start of International Ethnographic Film Festival OKO

| updated on 10/2/23 10:41 AM
Still frame from 20 Days in Mariupol
Photo: 20daysinmariupol.com

“The heroes are around us, they are not just in fairytales! Ukraine is full of heroes, but many of them are dead,” says Bessarabian Bulgarian – screenwriter, film director and director of the International Ethnographic Film Festival OKO.

The fourth edition of the festival is taking place in Sofia, 1-7 October, and will present around 50 documentary works from different countries in 4 categories. The highlight among them are the films about the war in Ukraine. Mstyslav Chernov’s 20 Days in Mariupol, documenting the first horrific days of the Russian invasion, the battles in the streets of the besieged town, is an Oscar nomination. Another powerful film – Pavlo Peleshok’s Life to the Limit – spans the time from the Revolution of Dignity to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. “I had to stop the film to have a good cry, and then I would continue watching,” Tetiana Staneva says and adds:
Tetiana Staneva
“I would say it is like a video textbook of the history of the war in Ukraine. We are seeing Putin’s lie in progression, we are seeing how naïve we have been in thinking he will not launch a full-scale war, because it started in 2014. There is powerful archive footage by the film directors themselves, who became war correspondents in 2014, and instead of cameras, took up arms and joined the army to fight. Many Ukrainian film directors have been killed, including colleagues of mine and it is so difficult to talk about them.”

Tetiana believes it is very important to document the war in films, photographs, to show the truth such as it is. The truth that has nothing to do with “the other point of view”, or with the narratives of the Russian propaganda that is so widespread in Bulgaria. “When there is a war going on there is no “other point of view”, things are black and white! We either recognize evil for what it is and do not play around with it, or we become hostage to that same evil which is going to devour us,” Tetiana says.

The festival OKO also features a photographic exhibition and auction of works by Ukrainian photographers and war correspondents.
Oleksandr Baron
“We are having a photo-exhibition for the auction of Oleksandr Baron, another Ukrainian Bulgarian, who was a photographer until 24 February and who is now taking photographs of the war. While we were wondering what captions to give his photographs, we chanced upon a photograph of broken glass in the shape of a heart. We called it “Chill heart”. It sounds awful, but in the destruction, death and blood one finds beauty of a kind. And the beauty – that is the people of Ukraine, the beauty is in the things they have left behind, things that tell stories. People are now very united, helping one another all the time, and that is a wonderful thing at this difficult time,” Tetiana says.

The Ukrainian film director of Bulgarian descent says that here, in Bulgaria she is constantly encountering a lack of understanding as to the real reasons for the war. And many Bulgarians openly support Russia:

“Even in Ukraine, when I am asked about the situation in Bulgaria, I say Bulgaria is divided and that is a fact! Yet the people who support us do so from the bottom of their heart. And I am glad we launched a fund-raising campaign in Bulgaria for this festival. To begin with I didn’t believe we would succeed, but we raised around 35,000 Leva – more than the initial target. Even for Ukraine that was a miracle – raising money like that for culture. And here, people sent money – small or big sum, whatever they could afford. Because Bulgarians were donating to a cause, not to films. People in Bulgaria want to know the truth. And they are willing to pay for it,” says Tetiana Staneva in conclusion.


Translated and posted by Milena Daynova

Photos: BGNES, okofilmfest.com.ua, 20daysinmariupol.com, Yuliana Baron

Listen to the daily news from Bulgaria presented in "Bulgaria Today" podcast, available in Spotify.

More from category

Bulgarian film “Mother” presented at festival in Vancouver

The Bulgarian movie “Mother” will be screened as part of the European Union Movie Festival in Vancouver this Sunday, November 26, the Bulgarian-Canadian association in British Columbia writes on Facebook. The screening will be at 8:20 PM at The..

published on 11/25/23 11:58 AM

New edition of “I am a Bulgarian woman” - the photo project that has become a sensation on social media

“I am a Bulgarian woman” – a photo project that has been gaining popularity in this country and abroad, has turned 9. The magnificent photographs of young women by photographer Radoslav Parvanov from Gabrovo present the beauty of Bulgaria and..

published on 11/22/23 10:52 AM

The film Blaga's Lessons enters international film critics' predictions for Oscar contenders

The film "Blaga’s Lessons" directed by Stephan Komandarev entered the predictions of international film critics regarding the likely contenders for the Oscar award for best international film. Bulgaria’s Oscar entry was mentioned in publications of the..

published on 11/19/23 2:30 PM