6.29.17: See Ya, Sofia!

Our five days in Sofia are quickly coming to an end. The endless icons, the socialist statues and funky fountains, the cute dogs, the bountiful breakfasts on the back porch, the Mean Fruit Lady, the hesher drummer in the park in front of Nevsky Cathedral playing a very out-of- time rendition of Eye Of The Tiger while smoking (and getting TONS of donations!), the kids in the parks, the groovy graffiti, the old ladies selling flowers and playing harmonica on the street, the tiny caviar spoons at the outdoor flea market, the underpass malls, the book and record stalls, the  mysterious traffic kiosks, the Dads and kids picking junkies out of the trees, the bridesmaid at the mafia wedding in the cathedral whose green dress barely covers her boobies, the male model waiter who stares intensely into your eyes at the end of the meal and seductively says “You want cakes?”,  the epic walk in the woods, the swallows at dusk, the sound of rain on the tin roof… We loved every minute of it!

6.28.17: Movie Magic

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!


6.27.17: No Woman No Cry

Call it sentimental b***s***, but there are days when you just feel like looking at beautiful painted portraits of women. Thankfully, in Sofia the National Gallery has a stunning array of work by Bulgarian painters including my new favorites Elena Karamihailova, Sultana Surujon, Tzeno Todorov, Stefan Ivanov, Boris Mitov, Petar Morozov, Ivan Nenov, Yoan Leviev, Lika Yanko, Dechko Uzunov, Iliya Petrov, Kirll Tzonev and Vladimir Dimitrov-Maystora. There is also an abundance of adorable old lady gallery guards who spend their time dozing in chairs or leaving their purses and jackets on the chairs while they silently ramble around for a while. Enjoy!

6.26.17: We’ll Miss The Mountains…

After two action-packed weeks, this morning we say so long to Zgorigrad and Vratsa.

We’ll miss these imposing mountains that provide an awe-inspiring backdrop to everything you do and everywhere you go. And of course we’ll miss Toni and Rosa who provided us with the most amazing food and shelter, and all the Sound We See participants who took that creative leap of faith with us. But there’s a few other folks, unsung heroes if you will, who also made our time here unforgettable..

1. The rad popcorn lady at the cinema with the awesome new wave style and the beautiful equine smile (Joff!!!). She gave us each a pair of 3D glasses as a parting gift!

2. The smiley man in the wheelchair who rolls around Botev Square all day, taking pictures of everyone and handing them out for free.

3. The grey-haired busker who was rocking Let It Be on the electric guitar with absolutely no expression on his face every single time we passed him on the promenade.

4. The teenage guard at the Municipal Hall who we had to pass on our way to lunch every day who was first super mean and then became the nicest guy ever.

5. The soft serve yogurt lady: melon-vanilla swirl!

6. The tough guy who is always drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette in front of the little store in the Zgorigrad town square who loved to yell Can-AH-da!!! at the top of his lungs every time he saw Paolo.

7. The mysterious lady who lives in an old train car in the magical garden by the river with the friendly donkey always out front. You made a hanging pink and yellow planter shaped like a tropical bird out of an old tire!!!!

8. The world’s sweetest, tiniest shepherd with her flock of two.

9. All the friendly stray dogs and cats. You guys are the BEST!

Until next time, we thank you and we salute you!


6.25.17: Rise & Shine

A morning premiere for The Sound We See: A Vratsa City Symphony at the Historical Museum with lots of last minute excitement as filmmakers, friends and family arrive…but where’s our musicians, the Vratsa Youth Brass Band??? Ah, here they are, slipping in the door just as the first frame comes up on the screen. Keeping us on our toes as always, Bulgaria!!!

Congratulations to our participants Nikolay Malinov, Erik Petrov, Dimitar Grigorov, Yavor Petrunyashev, Petyo Petrunyashev, Aleksandra Petrova, Milen Vasilev, Hristo Yonov, Angel Alipiev, Jaklin Petrova, Tihomir Mashov, Hristo Punchev, Robart Georgiev and Martin Varbanov for creating a truly unique vision of your city… It’s the first time a Sound We See project has been compared to Un Chien Andalou AND Taxi Driver!

Later, a fabulous family meal fit for a triple celebration: The Sound We See: Vratsa, Kate and Karel’s Anniversary and Granny’s 87th Birthday. Here’s to us!

6.24.17: The Eating Olympics

The big premiere is tomorrow but today we play. A morning puppet show (same puppeteers have been at it since Kate was a kid!), Bulgaria’s best Mishmash lunch made by Kate’s gorgeous Granny, late afternoon picnic at God’s Bride with Staci, Yavor and Martin, and a delightful dinner in the Rosa and Toni’s garden with the Vratsa Famiglia. Pass the rakia, it’s time to toast two truly beautiful weeks!

6.22.17: Perhaps Perhaps Perhaps

Evening soundtrack: crowing, chirping, clapping. And I just saw a kid spit over the balcony and onto the geraniums.

Today we met with the musicians. They ran through a few tunes for us but I’m not going to give you even a single note of advance listening pleasure because a surprise is a surprise and you’ve gotta wait until Sunday when all will be revealed. I can tell you that at one point my soul flew out of my body and danced around the gymnasium for a while.

In the meantime, get a load of this. How much pure joy can one heart stand in a single afternoon?


6.21.17: The Longest Day of the Year

Tonight’s soundtrack: fireflies in the deep blue twilight.

The last hour is edited, the titles and credits created and shot, the last roll of Super 8 processed (in caffenol!) and telecined… Time to celebrate the end of the filmmaking process and the arrival of our dear friends Karel and Kate: the wonderful reason we’re here in Vratsa to begin with!