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AN INTERVIEW WITH Lyubomir Dankov, FILMMAKER
As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself and let us know why you became a filmmaker?
My documentary film “The Donbass Children” is my only movie. It was finished at the end of September 2019. I don't think this makes me a filmmaker, I just shot one movie for now. I adore cinema, especially feature movies.
But I don't even dream of making such movies. This cannot be explained briefly, I will only make a note - we, Bulgarians, lost the Cold War.
You won, we lost. Yes, this happened 30 years ago, but we are still too far from the point when everyone has
a chance to reach their potential. Let me give an example – our culture and, above all, our cinema have been hit hard
by the "Victory of Democracy". Even if we suppose that I find unlimited funding, I can't make a decent feature film with actors
who were taught to play mostly for the theater. Theater and cinema in my opinion are opposites to a great extent.
Why did you make this documentary film?
I felt forced to. I have visited Ukraine several times in personal matters. I realized that horrible and unimaginable things happen
there in respect of which the "Democratic World" was stubbornly silent about. I tried to break this silence through
with journalistic materials – as a result, no interest from the big media. Now I'm trying to bring at least a small
part of the truth about the Donbass war to the people through this movie.
Tell us more about yourself, your background?
I am a graduated chemical engineer. I wanted to do science, especially physical chemistry.
The collapse of the so-called communism found me in the army, I had just graduated. Our science was destroyed in no time.
I just had to find a way to survive. With the exception of three years of working as a teacher, the rest of the time
I have worked and still work not particularly qualified work.I have relatively good experience in the field of art photography,
I have been amateur photographer for over 20 years. I shoot mostly landscape and nude art. More precisely, I was shooting, now I am in
a period of prolonged creative crisis. Of course, my experience as a photographer is of great benefit to my efforts in documentary films.
What are the films or people that had impacts on you and deeply inspired you to become a filmmaker?
Speaking of feature films, the movies that first come to mind are "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" of Milos Forman and
"Knife in the Head" – a movie by a German director Reinhard Hauff (with Bruno Gantz).
Then "The Cold Summer of the 53rd" a Russian movie. I will open a bracket here Bulgaria is a small country, too far from America.
The people in your country, quite logically, may have wrong impressions about my country. I was not born in the 1950s, but in the 1970s and 1980s, we were in no way deprived of the best in world cinema. From that period I like French cinema a lot, I grew up with it.
I also remember well a Soviet documentary - the Supreme Court. It shows the story of a man who commited a murder and sentenced to death.
The film was built by conversations with him during the process and until his execution.
It was an "unpretentious" movie, probably on a modest budget, but half a minute after the end of the inscriptions and the lights on, none of the spectators had gone out of the theater. I would like to make such films.
Your film was an Award Winning Documentary film in the
"American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?
You know, it's hard for me to imagine what it is like to be a pro, working in some big media and being sent to make a movie
on a topic for a certain period of time. I have been to the Donetsk People's Republic /a former part of Ukraine/ six times,
before that more than six times in Ukraine, each time for more than a week. It took me a long time and it cost me a lot of money (personal).
But now I can say that I stand behind every word of the people who speak in my film.
And one very serious problem - those people who live in the war zone have been lied too many times.
Many journalists came to talk with them, filmed them, and when they returned to their countries, they published
some “on-demand” things that had nothing to do with the truth. This is very demotivating.
You cannot expect any enthusiasm and assistance, and without the help of the right people, you are just on the street alone.
It takes a long time to make the right contacts, to gain trust. I still wouldn't say that I have earned completely their trust.
I found it extremely difficult to receive any archive footage for more expressiveness for the film.
For you what was the biggest lesson you had to learn?
Well ... it's too early for lessons, they are just starting. This is my first movie. So far, all I have learned is that if you save money from technical resourses, it won’t lead to a positive result.
To you, what part of the filmmaking is the hardest part?
In terms of photography, I have a big problem - I shoot with great desire and pleasure, and when I look at the final product I focus on every problem. Something similar happened in this movie. If it wasn't for the editor "Zina Nacheva", this movie would not be ready in 10 years. The hardest part for me is after shooting. And anyway ... Zina has a huge merit for making the movie.
The most important part is distributing the film. What did you do for distributing your film?
Unfortunately, I still don't know anything about these things. I have sent my film to almost 100 festivals, I hope it will be included in the program of some of them and will be noticed. I have no chance from any of the big Bulgarian media to broadcast it. Scary things happen with the freedom of speech in Europe. In short, the US and EU are fighting against Russia in Ukraine. None of “Our Side” wants to know what is happening to the people from “The Other Side”. The quotes here are just because all reasonable people have to be on the same side.
In filmmaking who do you like to work with if you have a choice?
Good question ... it made me think. I would probably be content with someone willing to fund all my quirks. That may not sound good, but I'm trying to be honest.
What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?
I think one should leave something behind. I don't know if I can achieve anything. At least I'll try ... for a time. I was 26 years old, when serious changes happened in our country, for many years I was busy surviving, then "floating downstream" ... I have to catch up.
What are your filmmaking goals? and
For your next project, what sorts of movies would you like to make if you had your choice?
I will certainly continue the Ukraine topic. From the conflict in this country we could draw important lessons for Europe itself. And any effort to resolve the conflict faster is worth it. I would like more people to look at this conflict objectively, not through the prism of propaganda.
I also have other plans, all in the field of documentary films and related to human rights. One of the topics I am very interested in is a new "business" - the taking of children with poor parents by the social services and their placement in foster care. In this way, in my country European social funds are being drained off and 'adoption material' is being created. As with any business, there is no sentiment in this one, and players in it are not concerned about the damage they do to children and parents.
GOOD LUCK Lyubomir
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