Cinema Documentary about Bulgarian beggar Natasha.
Austria/Bulgaria 2008. 84 min. Directed by Ulli Gladik
Stream (English subtitles)
Ulli Gladik meets Natasha Kirilova while Natasha is begging in Graz and, after a number of conversations, accompanies her to her home of Breznik, a former industrial town near Sofia. Over a period of two years Gladik, a combination camerawoman and director, visits Kirilova in Bulgaria and Austria, documenting the young womans life: her journeys and traveling companions, her work as a beggar, her home in Graz, her family life and everyday routine in Bulgaria.
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Premiere: Diagonale 2008
“The film doesn´t comment, it shows. It provides insight into a country whose social welfare structures were brutally disturbed, especially after 1989. An obligatory film for all those whose (self)righteous sleep is disturbed by the imposition of a few beggars upon their cityscape.” (Walter Titz, Kleine Zeitung)
Our clichés regarding beggars from the former East Bloc disintegrate with every image. Natasha Kirilova is no different than we are, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes in love or depressed. Saying goodbye to her 10-year-old son Vasko has become routine, though it is still painful. Natashas parents, siblings and her son manage to get by thanks to Natashas trade. Some people comb the formerly state-owned factories and kolkhozes for bits of wire and waste metal that they can sell for a few cents. Natasha, too young to retire, has no job opportunities and virtually no hope for the future and, with the money she makes begging, she tries to make her life bearable in a house that has been under construction for decades now. She discusses begging with her brother: It was hard in the beginning. I stared at the ground for the first five days, then I started looking people in the eyes. Youll never get any money if you just look at the ground. The handheld camera creates proximity without ever losing respect for the individuals. Ulli Gladiks film portrays Natasha Kirilova as being strong and self-confident, someone who laughs and struggles, who knows how to celebrate and also what has to be done. A sense that we should feel sorry for Natasha is never conveyed.
(Ursula Sova) Translation: Steve Wilder
Ulli Gladik came to know Natasha Kirilova when she was begging in Graz. After many, long talks in her hometown Bresnik, near Sofia/Bulgaria, Gladik started to accompany her for more than two years, being cinematographer and director all in one. (production note)
Many clichés and prejudices exist about beggars from the eastern-block. We avoid them and dont want to see them. Filmmaker Ulli Gladik brings people Natasha Kirilova in particular out of the anonymity of begging and accompanies them for two years on their regular trips to work as beggars in Graz. Natasha comes from Bresnik, Bulgaria. There is no work in Bresnik and Natashas begging trips allow her familys survival in humble surroundings. Through the cold, physical disability and social prejudices suffered at Natashas workplace, a respectful portrait of a young woman emerges. (Diagonale catalogue)