Today we took a break from Sofia site-seeing to pop into Kino Odeon. A 1996 film entitled всичко от нула was starting in 5 minutes and that sounded pretty good to us! Imagine our surprise when the friendly cashier refused to take our money and just pushed two ticket stubs through the ticket window. “Free!” What??? “Bulgarian movie! Free!” We thought she was taking pity on us because the film was in Bulgarian without subtitles. Would she take a donation? No she would not.

Inside the huge cinema was populated entirely by a smattering of senior citizens.  The men all carried shopping bags. The women read supermarket advertisements. Some of the men struck up conversations with the women and offered them things out of the shopping bags. The women were polite but a bit standoff-ish.

The lights went off. There were no advertisements or trailers. There were no snack enticement announcements: the place didn’t even have a concession stand. (Maybe there were a few tasty treats tucked away in those bags. There was some periodic rustling around.) We just jumped right into the film.

I have to say, our expectations were low. But всичко от нулаaka aka Vsichko ot nula aka Starting from Scratch was a real treat! An experimental film directed by Iván Pavlov and shot in Sofia that explores the male-female dynamic through a series of strange little vignettes, shot on film AND projected on 35mm? What more could you ask for? Subtitles? Who needs them?

Afterwards, while browsing a very cool photo display about Bulgarian cinema hero Boncho Karastoyanov, the friendly cashier reappeared to ask how we liked the film and to let us know that Bulgarian films are always free at the Odeon. Mind blowing!

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