Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Cine Europa 13
Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex

This 2008 Bulgarian film has a very long title yet has a poignant story attached to it. I figure it is a popular saying in their language that perhaps got lost in its English translation so it sounds a bit strange. It is based on the autobiographic novel by Bulgarian-German writer Ilija Trojanow.

The film starts with an animated narration by a young man named Alexander who is nicknamed Sashko. It begins in the 1980s in Communist occupied Bulgaria in a small provincial town. We are introduced to his parents and his grandparents. Bai Dan, his grandfather is the local king of Backgammon, a board game. His father who works in a factory is hounded by the local Communist comrade to spy on the supposedly subversive activities of his father-in-law.

Cue in to Germany in the year 2006. Sashko and his parents are on their way to Bulgaria. But they figure in a horrific car accident where both his parents perish. He is confined in a hospital and suffers from amnesia. Bai Dan decides to go to Germany to help Sashko restore his past. They soon embark on a long journey back home on a tandem bicycle.

It is during the journey where through flashbacks, we are given glimpses into Sashko's life. This movie effectively explores the political situation in Communist Bulgaria as well as the problems faced by immigrants in their struggle to have better lives. Backgammon is given a lot of emphasis as the game plays an important role in every aspect of Alex's life. It also delves into poignant bonding moments between a grandfather and his grandson who learns about his parents numerous sacrifices to give him a stable future.

The film is entirely in Bulgarian along with German and Italian dialogue but has English subtitles.

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