“Europolis, or Death in the Delta”
The newspaper “Literaturen vestnik” – the 18th of March 2009
“Europolis” narrates the strange and sad story of the town of Sulina, situated in the Delta of the Danube. It is conceived from the point of view of a mysterious omen for its destiny, made in the novel “Europolis”. It was written by Eugeniu Botez, the commandant of the harbour, who published it in 1933 under the name of Jean Bart and died a year later. On the screen the story of the strength of the literary omen is told by a narrator, while the destiny of the town is revealed through the personal stories of its today’s inhabitants.
The story is constructed on three levels – at the level of the document, of the personal story and of the literary fiction. The constant transitions between these levels create a peculiar tension that challenges the spectator to put together a complex historical mosaic. The director conducts this process in a delicate way. Choosing colourful characters, visualizing and giving voice to their personal stories, he tries to tell History.
Ten years ago, by his documentary “The Patience of the Stone”, Kostadin Bonev announced himself as an artist of loneliness. His film from 1998 was an ode to patience and living in loneliness. Today, “Europolis” is an elegy about the slow dying of the people and of the place. During its narration, the fairy-tale has been transformed in a ghost story. From sunrise till sunset the Delta has become a maw that devours life. Taking a look at that maw, the makers of the film see the reason of the ruin in the people who have lost their belief. They ask whether, because of our
disbelief, the second prophecy in the novel by Jean Bart will come true – together with the death of the town Europe will be slowly dying in pains.
The Roots of Sufferings of Today’s United Europe
“Europolis: the Town of the Delta” – a leap to the past of the old continent reminds us of the repeatability of history that bars the right to appeal
The newspaper “Duma” – 19th of March 2009
I would call “Europolis: the Town of the Delta”, a Bulgarian-Austrian documentary co-production made by the film director Kostadin Bonev and the scriptwriter Vladi Kirov, a short emotional encyclopedia of the dying time and its inhabitants who are at the crossroad of events they can not stop, but only experience, carrying them on their shoulders. The importance of this work lies in people’s revelations on the screen.
This is how the world goes from time immemorial.
Staring at the problems of their trifling being, our contemporaries do not interpret the signals that past addresses to them. Even more, they prevent themselves from responding to them somehow deliberately as if to avoid spell. “That is the reason – Kostadin Bonev confesses – why our creative team was curious to “draw” a parabola between what happened in Sulina, an absolutely cosmopolitan city that had been under European rule (a peculiar minimized model of today’s Europe) for 75 years, and the contemporary way of life. The leitmotiv of our film treats two questions: why the engineer Eugeniu Botez, the commandant of the harbour, having lived in the years of the greatest efflorescence of that town in the delta of the river Danube, had predicted its ruin in his strange novel “Europolis” (1933), written under the pseudonym of Jean Bart, and to what extent his prophecies refer to nowadays.
You leave the cinema, but numerous characters remain in your mind. Aurel Kirilov, the Ukrainian fisherman whose children do not want to be handed down his job preferring to get rich in one day. This is why he remains all the time in the delta, he loves speaking to fish (he is absolutely convinced that male fish is cleverer and more intelligent than the female one), he feeds calmly sea-gulls and in this way he makes life worth living.
The Russian Maria with her popular philosophy of resignation – “A man endures more than a beast – she claims. – God rescue that you do not endure till the end the burden you can bear”.
What about that Romanian old man, who has been released from prison, and persuades us that his belief has grown more intense there. If you try to grasp the words of those simple common people, you categorically trust them, you will learn a lot about life that is flecked with odd human destinies.
To sum up, it is in the documentary history of the old continent whose sufferings we have experienced for 80 minutes, in the biography of the Danube, “full of our tears”, as the young Romanian artist Cristin shares with us, that we recognize the value and the meaning of today’s united Europe. We should never forget them!