Unusual interview


In “Under the Bridge” for “The Builders  Who put the Clock back to the Future”

Author: Gabriela Kandzeva:

Documentary cinema is not for everyone, but there are films and people who infatuate with words, ideas and messages now then transform the genre in universal code. With such enthusiasm the producer Stepan Polyakov and the operator Momchil Alexandrov are working on “The Builders  Who put the Clock back to the Future”. This is the first Bulgarian film, which reveals the secrets of Bratsigovo’s builders, whose glory reaches all the way to Istanbul, and their buildings are extanded in Plovdiv, Batak, Bratsigovo, Peshtera.

The audience will have the opportunity to track their architectural genius from the eighteenth century and also touch their inheritance. The British actor and musician Mark Bosani narrate the whole story, but Stepan Polyakov and Momchil Alexandrov tell a special story about the “Under the Bridge”. Their tale is about the difficulties in documentary cinema, the saved history and the documented dreams.

“How did you get to the Bratsigovo’s builders and how did you decide to make a movie about them?

S: This is an old story that has never been told. It is known in the Pazardjik region and many people know something, but not much, furthermore many of their direct descendants inherit the same families, they have a direct family relationship and also live in Bratsigovo or in the close area. There is a serious dispute between both cities- Peshtera and Bratzigovo for the existing of another building school- Peshtera’s.

But anyway, they create what can be seen as a real European classicist story in Bulgarian architecture. Everything else, which some local people are proud of, such as Kolyo Ficheto and other master schools, is a heritage by Bratsigovo’s builders. Usually this information can be found with reading, with interesting, we find this not with a special occasion. Bratsigovo’s builders mixed art and revolution. The culmination in the film is the April uprising, it is not born of itself, is not sudden urges for nation liberate – it is an upgrade. Builder’s self-confidence in building and homeowners inhabit their large homes- all this leads to construct of the national spirit, the self-confidence that we are a separate nation, that we have our own religion. Bratsigovo’s builders actually begin the battle for our church independence, from which everything starts.

How did the film shoot?

S: It was stressed, of course, because there were lots of rebuilds with a lot of people, the organization was like in real cinema. During the film making process, a work is usually stressful and you want to not get involved with it. Furthermore, financially, any delay or misunderstanding leads to losses in the even smaller budgets we have for filming in Bulgaria.

M: The pictures were strenuous, because with little Bulgarian budgets making something more interesting means to endure the consequences. Sleeping for 2-3 hours, early strikes, searching for light, organizing masses … this is daily life. Otherwise person, who deals with this, knows that here bad is good because it means something is happening so this is enough reason. The cinema is heavy, but then the good things go out. Finally you smile and say, “Oh, come on, tomorrow again!” And so we are lying and involving each other with Stepan!

And more information for you – how long have you been dealing with documentaries?

S: There are from around 10-15 years. We have photographed five continents of the world, as well as many places in Bulgaria. In this way, here and with this team, which we are currently organizing with ‘Danube TV’, we can make parallels easy; also we can work safety with universal codes, which actually is our aim. Therefore our films we make in English, we whip up British and American actors and so they easier convey our messages. And, of course, you can very easily translate from Hindi, but the same is difficult if your main language is Bulgarian.

What accomplished and unfulfilled dreams do you have in the field of documentary cinema?

S: I do not intend to pension off. If I had done all my dreams I would have left the profession. So we keep dreaming, we have not stopped. We have many dreams.

M: I’ve been trying to make a movie all my life and it’s happening at times. In other moments – just dealing with other things. But [the idea of] cinema is, because of itself, to narrate.

That is why we are trying to get cinema into the documentaries we are filming so we do not miss that much. Our television is now on the agenda, and it will give us a showcase about the things we do.

What about is your next film, can you give us some secrets from the kitchen?

S: We are closing the production line in the winter.  All we did have to be arranged and it’s good to set a program for the New Year for the TV itself. Besides, we have a series of “World Cities of Bulgaria” on Bulgarian National Television 2 and all this should be done on a post-production basis. The terrain videos are postponed and in the New Year it will get clear what we want and what our dreams are for 2015. This year we finished some quite interesting films. One is for miners in Pernik and for Pernik at all as a city that develops in a completely different way from other Bulgarian cities. Its development starts from a village, but it quickly resembles a town at the end of the 19th century when the mines were discovered and their exploitation began. We found a lot of curious things – even the Pernik native people did not know any facts. They know what were told them in the 1960s and 1970s, but they did not return to the depths of what the city actually created. I guarantee we will see Pernik as none of us have ever seen. When we watched the movie, we said, “There is no such city in Bulgaria!”

10 years in this sphere are not a few. In your opinion, are there conditionals for documentary cinema in Bulgaria and is there a future for it?

There is no country where there is no opportunity for documentary cinema. Everything that happens in world history is happening in different places – these are the places where videos could be made. The problem is that the knowledge of consumers, viewers and cinema-makers standing somewhere in the middle of the 80’s of the 20th century. We both with Momchil think that there should be no state subsidy for cinema, in other words, everyone has to do it alone. We have different political beliefs, but here we are both convinced that the state should not stand behind this debauchery. Because we see where we’re going. Who can’t cope with the situation – sell himself. Everything else leads to debauchery, heavy and unfortunate debauchery. There the souls are distorted. This is corruption that will not be eradicated. Everybody steals; everyone is utterly unprincipled and shameless. Even when someone says, “It can’t be,” it is easily beheaded. So documentary cinema will exist, but it will not be valuable for it most part, until the immortality between the state and the artists continues.

Premiere: 11.10.2014 on Bulgarian National Television 2 at 17:20

Producer: Stepan Polyakov

Operator: Momchil Alexandrov

Executive Producer: Vivian Boyadzhieva


Translated by Kamelia Getovska

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