Hello from Bulgaria
The church bell is striking 4:45 PM. Not sure why now and not at the hour. I’ve been learning how to type for the past forty minutes at the cafe “Maria Louisa” in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. I used to type with two or three fingers at best. By the end of next week, I hope to be using all ten fingers and have made a commitment to type every email and text using this new skillset. No, I’m not a robot, but a human who never learned how to type using all of his finger anatomy. It’s taking me thrice as long to write this text, but the thought of gliding over the keyboard in style thrills me. I’ve been using Typingclub.com.
“Did you know Plovdiv is the oldest town in Europe?” - asked my stepdaughter who is here with me.
We were driving to Plovdiv after a few days in Sofia where we shared “Kaval Park” with the Vice President of Bulgaria Iliana Iotova and guests.
My kaval teacher Zhivko Vasilev opened the evening with a performance.
Kalin Krumov of Bulgarian Society PCHELA, the film’s executive producers, joined the festivities. “Kaval Park” is our third project together.
The following morning we were invited to the Bulgarian National Radio where we engaged in a wonderful conversation with journalist Elena Karkalanova. If you speak Bulgarian or wish to practice learning it, you can enjoy the interview here. Elena saw the film the night before which certainly enriched the subject matters we discussed. As I continue to write this in the cafe, I’m surrounded by Bulgarian speech which always energizes me.
It’s Thursday. My morning starts with meeting Bulgarian film producer and director Nikolay Egerman. He invited me to be a creative producer on his new feature film, “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” We workshopped the screenplay through March over numerous video calls. The night before we met in person for the first time. You will be hearing much more about our film in the near future.
Lunch is at a vegan diner where we eat to classical music. The food is delicious, but Bulgaria has not escaped inflation. It looks to me that prices are at least 20% higher than last time I was here in December. At 1PM I meet with Martin who is editing my next documentary film. He has spent a month sifting through ten years worth of footage. We review the footage from the US, Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia. Martin has done a phenomenal job organizing the project. We will be announcing the documentary soon - because you’re a part of this newsletter, you’re the first ones to hear about it!
From there I go straight to a cafe to meet with graphic designer Maria Stoylova and her daughter Karmin who illustrated my first children’s book “Плетко и Плетка”. The book will be released only in Bulgarian and consists of nineteen children’s stories. This weekend Maria is putting the finishing touches after which she will test print a copy. We discuss everything from the placement of text, how to engage children and parents with the format, strategies for the release, the website, merchandise and even opening a school inspired by our collaboration. Maria is a teacher employing unconventional methods to teach emotional intelligence to children. While we talk Karmin chimes in, “We can do readings for kids at hospitals.”
“We read your children’s story on overcoming fear. I started by sharing my fears first. Then, the children shared theirs. After which we planted a seed (the story is about a seed and what it goes through to overcome various fears). We drew on the flowerpots their wishes and dreams and each child took their flowerpot home to water and care for the seed.” - Maria
Julia, who coordinates all my projects in Bulgaria and Europe, is typing notes feverishly. We emerge from the meeting excited and inspired about the potential of this book.
The day finishes with a three hour meeting for a documentary I will tell you more about if it pans out.
My favorite part being here is reconnecting with friends. Marina grew up in Seattle, but when she was about fourteen her parents decided to return to Bulgaria. She must be almost twenty now. She is currently studying at the prestigious National Academy of Art in the capital Sofia. I always ask to see her work when we meet.
The evening spent with the Vice President of Bulgaria, the showing of the film, the media interviews and all that other jazz, as well as taking on new project is only possible because we continue to build a team here. A bridge between the US and Bulgaria inspired and sustained by the people. Julia, on the left, and Yasmina, on the right, in the photo have been instrumental in our success this time around.
What a coincidence that on the very same screen behind me, in 1989, I saw “Die Hard.” I went back to my parents ten times asking them for money to see the film over and over again.
The cafe is getting full. A birthday celebration is underway. Life is unfolding and it’s up to me what I do with this gift.
We’ve added more destination to our tour. NY is almost SOLD OUT. Check them out bellow.
Next “Kaval Park” showings & tickets
We keep adding destinations so be sure to scroll down next time and check!
Chicago - April 27th - More information
Washington DC - between May 8th - 12th - STAY TUNED
Virginia Beach - May 13th - SAVE THE DATE
New York - May 18th - The showing is at the Bulgarian embassy and it’s without tickets. Please RSVP here. Only 15 tickets left.
Sofia - May 18th, Dom na kinoto - Buy Tickets Now
Seattle - May 21st - Buy Tickets Now