PISMO de AMERIKA (LETTER TO AMERICA)
Bulgaria, 2001, 89 minutes, Colour.
Phillip Avramov, Ana Babadopulu, Peter Antonov.
Directed by Iglika Triffonova.
A Letter to America is set in Bulgaria, focusing on a writer who decides not to emigrate to America but who keeps in touch with a theatre director friend who does. The theatre director is lonely in the United States, longs for news from home, and speaks of a song that he heard from his grandmother. He then suffers a car accident. His friend at homes makes a video for him and then goes on a trip around Bulgaria, meeting a range of people and searching for the song. It finally brings him to the mountain country where an old woman, who cannot sing the song because she is mourning for her husband, breaks her rule in order to sing the song when she hears of the news of the accident in the United States.
The film in some ways is a travelogue of Bulgaria, but with deeper intentions as the hero meets a wide range of people on his journey and learns about his own country. There is great focus on tradition and songs, especially from the older people. (A younger woman who lives in the country but is from the city has posters of Titanic and when she is asked to sing for the video, she sings the theme tune from the film.)
1. A portrait of Bulgaria at the turn of the century? People, the countryside, traditions, music, song?
2. The photography and the city, the landscapes of the countryside? The close-ups and focus on people? The musical score, the range of folk songs, their melodies and their lyrics? Indication of the tradition and meanings of Bulgaria?
3. The title and the focus, a video letter enabling voices and images and song to be sent overseas?
4. The friend moving to the United States, his work in New York City, his reactions to the city, his work as a director? Loneliness? Longing for the song? The car accident? His receiving the video from his friend?
5. Ivan and his girlfriend, their life in Sofia? Ivan as a writer, his writing block? His friend, writing, the phone call about the accident from the Japanese neighbour? His decision to go to America? The consular official and the severe tone taken in refusing the visa? The decision to send a video letter?
6. The beginning of his journey, the range of people that he met and put on the video: the woman who gave him a lift and her background and work? The tractor driver and his trying to appear well on television? The various children that he met? The people in the village? The young woman and her moving to the countryside, the posters of Titanic and her humming the song? Going into the mountains, the range of people who helped him to find the old woman, finding that the grandmother had died? His finally meeting the old woman, her being in mourning, refusing to sing the song? His telling the story of his friend, her breaking her rule, singing the song?
7. The overall impact of the journey on Ivan, understanding his roots, traditions, the challenge of the tradition to the present modernisation? His continuing his work, his relationship with his ill friend?
8. A portrait of Bulgaria and the possibility of communicating something of the Bulgarian spirit internationally?