Author: Eye on Bulgaria

Life in Sofia Means Re-evaluating the Meaning of ‘Near’

‘I’m sorry I splashed you from head to toe’ … in your dreams Sofia was covered in snow recently. Then it turned to torrential rain a few days later. Those familiar with the exquisite infrastructure of the Bulgarian capital will not be surprised at what ensued. But, for the uninitiated, here goes … some principal highways in Sofia (notably Tsar Boris III) have turned into rivers, costing nearby businesses dearly. The road is covered in potholes so that the water can’t escape, exacerbated by seriously clogged drainage shafts. Pedestrians have the hardest time of all. If they stick to the...

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The White Witches of the East

Bulgaria won’t give domestic violence the attention it deserves, says campaigner Maria Tchomarova Every day brings more sordid revelations about the antics of certain male celebrities. Such stories are grist to the mill of salacious tabloids who acknowledge the horror while licking their lips. Tawdriness in tinsel town is eminently newsworthy, after all. Domestic violence, by contrast, is not really flagged anywhere. It’s all so anonymous. And it has an even lower profile in Bulgaria although it’s believed to be closely linked to major problems such as sex trafficking, school bullying and even carnage on the roads. Maria Tchomarova,...

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First Blood to No Blood

Director Ted Kotcheff explains the background behind his most personal project yet After a 60-year career that has included one of the industry’s biggest money spinners, First Blood, 86-year-old Ted Kotcheff would be entitled to relax in his Beverly Hills home. (And, after all, he has a great vantage point, it’s just a stone’s throw away from those of superstars Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty.) But, instead, Hollywood’s most famous Bulgarian filmmaker is planning his most ambitious project yet – a movie about the saving of the Bulgarian Jews during World War Two. First Blood made a cool 150...

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The Shadow Land

Review and reflections and interview with the author, Elizabeth Kostova I recently edited an English-language edition of The Cowshed on the Danube, Stefan Botchev’s harrowing account of his incarceration at Belene. I was reminded of this when I read Elizabeth Kostova’s The Shadow Land whose central protagonist, a talented violinist, is imprisoned as a political dissident. In both cases, in the real and fictional accounts, the “dissident” has perpetrated no crime as such, except that of being a private citizen. That, in all dictatorships, is the ultimate act of subversion. If you do not devote every minute to the...

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Little Citizens of Nowhere

A playschool at Harmanli Refugee Camp has played a vital role in helping traumatised youngsters Imagine you are running a playschool for children whose parents froze to death while fleeing from persecution. Imagine also that those in your care are not only bereaved and poverty-stricken but also traumatised beyond belief. But this is only the beginning of your struggle. You get little support from the authorities and you find that funding the group depends on the generosity and goodwill of donors. That’s not to mention the practical problems of dealing with children from varied backgrounds and finding a methodology...

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