So this is it. This year for the 18th edition of the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF), I didn’t apply for a press accreditation. Lacking the time and money made me choose to see only one movie and a second one I won tickets for! After «Les années Super 8» it was the Bulgarian documentary «A Provincial Hospital» by Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov and Zlatina Teneva, who was present for the screening (check Instagram-Story).
As the title implies, the documentary is set in a provincial hospital, somewhere in one of the poorest EU-countries, Bulgaria. We follow the doings of a charismatic doctor called Dr. Popov and a team of nurses, who take care of patients during the Covid-19 pandemic. Facing desperate situations, Dr. Popov and the nurses never loose their sens of humour. Some patients, like the very emotional older lady called Passionaria show a lot of respect for their care-takers, others loose hope like Daniel, a 32-year-old overweight patient, who doesn’t want to use the oxygen-machine, which he needs in order to survive.
Without any film music, the documentary made by three young filmmakers / journalists (Zlatina Teneva works for Arte) is a naturalistic portrait of that specific place and shows the up and down sides of medical care given by passionate nurses and doctors, who are und immense pressure during a pandemic in a provincial and thus not very well equipped hospital.
The film is a bit boring. I admit that I fell asleep several times but nevertheless a poignant document of our times and a brave gesture coming from a younger generation of filmmakers, who has less suffered from the disease itself (Covid-19) but more from its social and economic consequences.
This makes me want to reflect the last couple of years as all art forms are currently processing, what the world experienced during the pandemic. My current book: “Cher connard” (Dear asshole) by Virginie Despentes is the perfect example of a post-Covid book. The french author writes about the mostly negative consequences of the pandemic on the Parisian lifestyles and specifically the drug consumption of her protagonist, Oscar. She also mentions the positive side effects, like the decrease of traffic and the ensuing silence or tranquility in a normally rather chaotic and crowded capital.
Not everything was bad about the lockdowns and the pandemic. It was a special time. A time in which you could visit places, like in my case Venice, that are usually full of tourists and not enjoyable at all, as you never could before. I will keep an unforgettable memory of the Mostra di Venezia 2020 (or was it 2021?) because I’ve never been able to experience the city as exclusively as that time. We found a place in every restaurant we wanted to try out and could really enjoy ourself on the lagoon, watching nice films without all the Hollywood bling bling.
Like in Despente’s book, I remember the long lockdown days finishing with a strong applause from the people saluting the efforts of the medical care system at around 8 in the evening and I remember walking through a street at that specific moment, feeling applauded but of course, it wasn’t for me!
However, I would like to keep the good sides in mind and wouldn’t want to be as pessimistic as Despentes or other artists and authors of our times. The futur isn’t exactly bright BUT I think we can make the best of our lives if we keep trying to live more in accordance with our environment and our democratic principles. It takes some courage and self-discipline but we don’t really have a choice, do we? I say or write this bearing in mind that future generations expect to live (survive!) in a world that is today very polluted and often sick.
- Genre: Documentary
- Country, Year: Bulgaria, Germany, 2022
- Duration: 114 min
- Language: Bulgarian
- Directors: Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov, Zlatina Teneva
- Cast: Dr. Evgeni Popov, Evelina Arsova, Maya Filipova, Daniel Kadifkin, Emil Stoyanov-Chemata