1) "Whose is this Song?"
Documentary, 70 min.
Director Adela Peeva
In a small nice restaurant in Istanbul I was having dinner with friends from various Balkan countries - a Greek, a Macedonia, a Turk, a Serb, and me, Bulgarian. There I heard the song whose story is told in the film. As soon as we heard the song we all started humming it, everyone in his own language.
Everyone claimed that the song came from his own country. Then we started a fierce fight – whose is this Song? The event in the Istanbul restaurant did not leave my mind at rest. I knew from my childhood that the song was Bulgarian. I wanted to find out why the others also claimed the song was theirs. This is how the film started.
The film action takes place in the countries of the Balkan region. The situation is in itself rather comic – the fight to prove that no one other than us can create such a beautiful song. At times this fight becomes tragicomic and dramatic, takes twists and springs, surprises with themetamorphoses of the song and the emotions of the participants in the film.
"Whose is this song?" is a film which treats with a sense of humor some typical Balkan traits including our constant strife to usurp somebody else’s possession and at the same time keep what is ours to ourselves.
In addition to this, "Whose is this song" is a film about a song and the transformations it underwent on its travels along the roads of the Balkans: in the different countries it has different faces and exists as a love song, a military march meant to scare the enemy off, a Muslim religious song, a revolutionary song, an anthem of the right nationalists, etc.
Could a song change people’s destinies? Could a song bring lovers together and then arouse blind jealousy? Could a song haunt a man for his whole life and even beyond? Could a song give rise to ethnic hatred or to revenge by hanging?
“WHOSE IS THIS SONG?”
Awards and Prizes
Nominated by the European Film Academy for “Best Documentary Film 2003” - Prix ARTE, Special Prize of the Jury “Golden Rython” 2003 Documentary and Animated Films Festival, Special Prize of the Jury “Golden Chest” 2003 International TV Films Festival, “Silver Conch” Prize and FIPRESCI Award Mumbai International Film Festival - MIFF' 2004, “Prix Bartok”Ethnographic Film Festival - Paris 2004, Gibson Impact of Music Award Nashville Film Festival – 2004, Special Prize of the Jury Motovun International Film Festival – Croatia, 2004, Annual Award of the City of Sofia 2004, Second Award and Award of the Student Jury at " Crossroad Europe" International Documentary Film Festival Lublin, Poland – 2005,
Award "Silver Knight" International Film Festival "Golden Knight", Russia – 2005, Award of Commendation Society for Visual Anthropology/American Anthropological Association Conference San Jose, California – 2006, OSCE Award “Human Rights and Respect of Diversity”
Prizren International Film Festival – Kosova, 2006, The Best Film and Award for Innovation Sardinia International Ethnographic Film Festival – 2006, Audience Award
Roving Eye Documentary Film Festival,
2) Divorce Albanian Style
Documentary, 66 min.
Author and Director: Adela Peeva – Bulgaria
This is a story about love and separation. It happened in Albania, a small poor country in the Balkans in the sixties of the past century. Through the eyes of a few of the many thousands of people who experienced this extraordinary period, our film tells the story of the families that were forcefully separated by the Communist regime of Enver Hodja - the longest lasting European dictator of the 20th century- and this only because the wives were foreignness.
When in 1961 Albania broke off relations with Soviet Union and most of the countries of the Eastern Bloc, Enver Hodja's obsession with spies turned into paranoia. Seven hundred thousand concrete bunkers were built for defense. Hard days came for the couples with foreign wives. Albanian men married to non-Albanian women were forced to split up with their wives and drive them from their houses. The official reason: fear of espionage. Thus a forcible mass expulsion of women and children started in Albania. Those who did not obey and refused to leave Albania were sent to prisons and subjected to severe tortures. Their husbands were thrown into Albanian prisons too where they remained incarcerated for many years. Vassil is Albanian. He graduated as a mining engineer in Poland. There he fell in love and married Barbara. The young couple came to live in Albania. Despite intimidation and pressure, Barbara did not leave Albania and stayed with her husband Vassil. She said the family is sacred and the state can not interfere it. In 1968 Vassil Orgotzka and his wife Barbara were arrested. A year later he was sentenced to death for high treason and espionage on behalf of Poland. Later, the sentence was mitigated to twenty-five years’ imprisonment. Barbara was sentenced to twenty-five years’ imprisonment for espionage in the same trial. In prison she was driven to insanity. She doesn’t recognize her husband. To her he is dead. Today Barbara and their daughter Elzbieta live thousands of miles away from Vassil - in Warsaw. Vassil lives all alone in Korcha, his home town in Southern Albania. He does his shopping by himself, cooks by himself, and dines all by himself in front of the TV.
Volia Sharonova, married name Hodja, is a geologist, the first woman with a Ph. D in Albania. She also stayed with her husband in Albania. Volia was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment and confiscation of property for espionage against Albania. While Volia was in prison, her family was constantly watched. Because of this pressure, her husband divorced her, she was Russian, and married an Albanian woman.
Her son has to disown her to continue his studies. When in 1987 Volia was released, she could not return to her husband. He was living with his second wife and did not even allow their daughter and son to see her own mother. So, Volja went back to Moscow. Today, she still keeps in a plastic bag her pictures from Albania where she spent most of her life.
Minela Chami is Albanian, Elena is Russian. They have been married for more than fifty years now. Ten of them they spent behind the prison’s bars. In remote 1953, Minela, an Albanian student in Moscow at that time, fell in love with Elena. They shared some wonderful times there, but as soon as they arrived in Albania, the young couple was entered on the list of the “undependables”. Elena and Minela were arrested, found guilty and convicted for subversion, hostile instigation and propagation against the state of Albania. After their parents arrest the children were left to their own devices.
Our film tells the stories of three couples - only three of the many couples of Albanian men married to foreign women. This was their only crime. The executioners of these outrages against them also participate in the film:
- Pandi Konomi - the man who demanded the worst sentences for Vassil and Barbara – the prosecutorin their case. He was a carpenter before becoming a prosecutor. He still feels nostalgic about the regime that turned him from a carpenter into a prosecutor.
- Dolores Veliay - the investigator of Volia. Today she has a prosperous legal firm.
- Yuli Hilla - the senior officer of the Albanian secret police on charge of foreigners at that time. He was trained by the Soviet secret service – the KGB. Today, for his role in Enver’s Hodja’s regime he said: “I was simply doing my job”.
To this very day none of the three can’t see why they should ask for forgiveness
.3) THE UNWANTED
Produced and directed by ADELA PEEVA
THE UNWANTED tells about one of the ethnic cleansing in the Balkan Peninsula, which took place in the latest 80-ies in Bulgaria. The consequences of it are lasting till now.
The film tells the stories about three women and their divided families. Each of them experienced in her own way this tragedy.
In the South-Eastern part of Bulgaria, close to the border with Turkey, two communities have always lived together - the Bulgarians and the Turks. The Bulgarians keep the memories of centuries long Turkish yoke and the slaughters. The Turks remember the violence of the communist regime. In the mid 80-ies the Bulgarian communist authorities started to forcefully change the Turkish names of about one million ethnic Turks into Bulgarian ones, in an attempt to resolve the ethnic problems that had been piled up for years.
The ones who did not accept Bulgarian names had to leave Bulgaria. Within a couple
of months more than 350 000 people emigrated to Turkey. Entire villages and regions were depopulated. The ethnic cleansing succeeded. The wounds of this separation are bleeding till now.
Selver, one of the main characters of the film also has her personal tragedy. Her daughter is behind the closed barrier, over there in Turkey. Since then, she has been looking towards the border and crying...
What is the power that can make a mother decides to entrust the life and the fate of her child to smugglers of children across the border, not thinking of the dangers, which she could thus expose her child to? What is the power that can make a woman vote in favor of a law that will divide from her nearest and dearest?
This is a story about the people who were robbed of their identity, but who, nevertheless, are full of inexhaustible passion for survival.
The film is a Bulgarian -Turkish co-production with SINEVIZYON Film Company, and is made in co-operation with ZDF/ARTE and with the support of EURIMAGES, SOROS Documentary Fund and Bulgarian National Film Center.
The film was nominated for PRIX EUROPE in Berlin 1999 and is also participated at the International Film Festivals in Bombay, Istanbul, Ankara, Minnesota, Loule, Samos, Kalamata, Modena, Sarajevo, Dubrovnik and United Nations Association Film Festival - USA and others.
„The Unwanted" is awarded with Special Award of the Jury at the XII Bulgarian National Non-Fiction Film Festival GOLDEN RITON `99; Grand Prize "Best Documentary Feature" at the edition 2000 of the Minneapolis/ St. Paul International Film Festival; "A Certificate of Merit" at the Jan Karski Film Competition 2001 and Second Prize at International Festival "At Home" 2001 - Krakow, Poland
4) BORN FROM THE ASHES
Documentary, 30 min.
Producer and Director
In Bulgaria, there are 800.000 Roma people, which is 10% of the country's overall population. They live in closed communities like ghettos with 2 US dollars per capita, per month. The infant mortality is 23/1000 - a genuine Third World case in the heart of Europe. More than 50% of the male are alcohol addicts. Nearly 3/4 of the convicts in the prisons are also Roma."Born Form the Ashes“ is a film about a particular community - the Roma living in the villages near the mountainous town of Tvarditsa in Bulgaria; about the difficulties these people overcome, and the sacrifices they make while striving to achieve their goal - to preserve their identity while accepting the terms of contemporary civilization and taking up the challenges it sends to them. The film treats the subject of the rights of the Gypsy minorities to have normal life, the right to have a work, the right to be a part of society they live.
The Roma from Orizari and other villages near Tvarditsa have chosen a different way of living through which they search for an answer to the question if it is possible for the Roma, with their cultural specificities and the burden of illiteracy and ignorance, to become part of the global world? Will it be possible for them to overcome their difficulties without somebody outside else's help, without what has become the symbol of a whole ethnic community - the outstretched hand begging for money? The life of the Roma in Orizari and the near-by villages is complicated and controversial, as anywhere around the world at the beginning of the new century. People are pressed by the problems of contemporary life and their whole strength is consumed by their attempts to come out of the quagmire of hopelessness.
We have created a different film in which the compassion, provoked by the horrifying life of these people is combined with a sincere sympathy for their efforts to emerge out of the sea of hopelessness. This is a film that shows a Roma community in the process of transformation: of values, of morals, and finally, an existential transformation. Births and christenings, weddings and death accompany this transformation, where tribal taboos with their rigidity and fatalism are replaced by the contemporary value system, in which the particular individual plays a primary part. With the film story we observe this process from the inside, revealing its characters' point of view in the most convincing manner. This inner, subjective point of view is the specifics that distinguishes this film from a lot of other films about Roma life in post- communist society.
5) In the name of Sport
Documentary, 32 min.
Author and Director
This is one of the films of Adela Peeva which was banned for screening from 1983 till 1989. It was a kind of continuation of the series of films showing the true face of the Communist system in Bulgaria. The film reveals the hidden from the public inhuman methods of training of the elite heavy athletes seeking to prove at all prices the advantage in sports of the so-called „most human society”.Already before it was finished, the film and all the resource materials were confiscated. The first public projection of the film was after the democratic changes in Bulgaria and took place in 1989.In 1990 the film received the Award of the Film Critic at the National Non-fiction Film Festival “Golden Rython”. The film took part in the short films festival in Berlin. It was shown in the United States and Hungary. It was also shown as one of the director’s banned films at a special profile programme – “A film portrait of Adela Peeva” at the film festival in Selb, Germany