Between Heaven and Earth
Our film reached its Kickstarter goal! Thank you for participating and making it happen!
It’s about how human beings are actually much better than we think and how life intertwines with their different beliefs.
This story follows the struggles of Mother Julita in the small village of Muldava. She cares for the “St. Petka” monastery and the few Orthodox Christians in the region.
It was 2007. Getting out of my front door in Berlin I saw a poster on a street pole saying “Bulgarian Stories”. It was an advertisement of a new documentary which was just starting in the cinemas. Being highly interested in that film I organized some friends and we went to the film release. That is how I met Kornel Miglus.
I’ve been travelling with a friend in the Rhodopi mountains for some weeks and that’s how we took the first shots of the film. Shortly before the end of my journey my travel mate convinced me to leave our route and go a bit astray. Somewhere near the city Assenovgrad we got off the bus. Apart from the nonexistent bus stop there were only some goats in dried out meadows dispersed in the non fertile rocky area. “Over there” said my travel mate pointing out towards a hill. I saw only a narrow cow road winding up among the rocks. We climbed up that hill nearly an hour on the uneven road. At once we held our breath at the view of the stately monastery wall of “St. Petka”. The gate was wide opened. “Who are you”- a voice got us out of our numbness. Behind us stood a woman, some meter and a half tall. That was the 80 years old abbess. She looked as if she was not from this world with her thick horn-rimmed glasses, standing up ears and crooked teeth. After a careful examination of my female travel mate her eyes brightened up and she greeted us enthusiastically. And then we were taken to the monastery kitchen and fed abundantly.
Christo Bakalski and Kornel Miglus:
Three years later we produced together a second film about the Rhodopi mountains in Bulgaria “About the Soul and Other Small Things” as a polish-bulgarian-german co-production. The destiny mixed up in the film: the tragic death of the Polish co-producer changed a bit the film story. That is how we made a film about the songs of grief, Orpheus in the Underworld and the pain at the loss of someone you care about. “St. Petka” was the final stop of the film journey of grief. While we were shooting in the village of Jagodina, the driver of the film production who spent most of his time in front of the T.V. shouted out: “Look, “St. Petka” is on fire.” We reached the monastery in the drizzling rain. What was left from the walls was covered with soot. The ashes were still warm and the veil of desperation fell over the ruins. A quiet chaos was reigned: burnt pieces of furniture, shoes spread on the floors, broken charred dishes. Soot everywhere. We took shots of horror. A year later we took an interview from Mother Julita, the new abbess, in the ruins of the devastated monastery. She overtook the monastery after the death of Mother Elena, the old abbess. Out of breath with a voice filled with anger and dignity at the same time she was naming the destroyed books, icons, relics… At once her monotonous listing seized and she said:” Yes, some years ago God gave me a sign to leave aside my previous life and to step on a new path. Now He gives me a new task-to reconstruct the monastery.”
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We are beginning the work on that documentary thanks to your Kickstarter contribution. Thank you for supporting us! Click the logo to see all about the project on its Kickstarter page.
On the road to the city of Kardshali, some 4 km south east of the city of Assenovgrad is situated the monastery “St. Petka”. It is built on a hill inside a forest, close to the village of Muldava. The history of the monastery is a history of a series of renewing. It is a real wonder that no matter how often it was burnt, it has always been carefully reconstructed afterwards. The legend says that the monastery has been built during the Second Bulgarian Kingdom in the reign of Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331-1371). Since 1836 till nowadays nothing in the outer building has been changed.
Mother Julita was a wife, a mother and a business lady before she received a sign from God. She studied economics and theology and worked for many years as a broker of immobile properties. She was, also, active on the stock exchange, knows well the world of money and markets. Her family life changed, too. The marriage turned into a daily routine, as Julita retells, and she realizes that this life leads to a dead end street. She divorced and raised her daughter on her own. When the daughter settled in London as a lawyer after graduating her second university education, Julita bids goodbye to the worldly life. She cuts her hair and embarks on the path of monasticism. At last she takes the opportunity to devote her life to her second education-theology and becomes a nun.
After the death of the ex abbess of “St. Petka”, Julita overtakes the monastery and becomes the new abbess. This is a new challenge and a matter of honor for the energetic woman. “St. Petka” is in ruins and not able to sustain itself financially. Julita has big plans. She wants to revive the monastery as it was in the times when it had a huge library with many old and valuable manuscripts and books and offered a school for the children from the neighborhood. She wants also to make the monastery into an attractive place for visitors as well as a home for elderly nuns. The devastating fire made her intentions even more resolute and gave her the opportunity to prove God her sincere intentions.
Sound director and Sound designer
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