The Good Postman

Tonislav Hristov

Bulgaria, Finland, 2016 / 82 min / Bulgarian OV with EN subtitles / Documentary

When running for mayor, a postman learns that even minor deeds outweigh the best intentions. 

On Bulgaria’s southeastern border with Turkey sits a poor and sleepy hamlet, Golyam Dervent, known as “The Great Gate” for centuries because of its location on the Roman and Ottoman Empires’ doorsteps. The influx of Syrian refugees turned it once again into a gate functioning as the most important secret loophole into Europe Ivan, the local postman, decides to run for mayor, on the platform of welcoming refugees to help bring life back to the dying village and repopulate it. But his optimism isn’t shared by everyone: While the incumbent mayor closes her eyes on the demographic change, Ivan’s fiercest opponent plays on the xenophobic fears of the villagers, meshing the nationalist, ranks-closing sentiment with elated nostalgia for communist times.

Fri 03/03 19:00 Cinémathèque BG OV with EN subt. Public
Sat 04/03 21:15 Ciné Utopia BG OV with EN subt. Public

“Told through indelible, lush images, this quietly cinematic film exposes seismic divisions regarding immigration and what it means to be European in an age of global displacement and shifting political systems. With dry humour and remarkable sensitivity toward its beguiling ensemble of characters, Tonislav Hristov’s documentary plays like a scripted narrative, with the postman as the film’s grounding hero—a man who sees encroaching darkness not in the desperate exiles filing across his land, but in his own increasingly closed-off and distrustful town.” Sundance Film Festival 2016

“A sad, searing and profoundly empathetic study of electoral process in a minute Bulgarian village split by opposing responses to the Syrian refugee crisis, Hristov’s richly lensed fifth feature is keenly and compassionately observed at a magnified grassroots level — but also functions as a disturbing microcosm of tensions simmering across its subjects’ country, and indeed continent. (…) it’s a film that challenges our sympathies by giving voice to the supposedly “invaded” community, uncovering prejudice and generosity in equal measure, and not always in the social pockets you might expect. (…) ‘The Good Postman’ plays out not just as thoughtful community portraiture, but as a fascinating, genuinely tense political drama. It’s no great stretch to parallel the small but significant faultlines in Great Dervent with ideological conflicts that recently saw Britain collectively vote to leave the European Union, or even with America’s alt-right elevation of Donald Trump.” Guy Lodge, Variety, 22/11/2016

“Tonislav Hristov’s documentary (…) starts off as a tale of life in the bucolic backwaters of south-eastern Europe, but soon turns into a universal story of human kindness, ambition, frailty and guilt, all served up in equal measure. (…) Without giving anything away, it is in the last 30 minutes of the film, after the result has been announced, when Hristov’s story really takes off, underlining an all-too-human propensity towards moral weakness rendered even more poignant and pitiable when placed within the context of the European migrant crisis. As importantly, his camera also records the sense of profound regret that follows, and the subsequent desire for redemption.” Nick Cunningham, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, November 2016

“Tonislav Hristov’s (…) documentary is decidedly cinematic and timely. (…) There’s a lot of sadness in this film, and, for outsiders to Europe’s issues, a textbook illustration of how poverty and utter decline – the village doesn’t even have internet - can whip-up xenophobic sentiment.” Fionnuala Halligan, ScreenDaily, 23/11/2016

Cast & Credits
Ivan Fransunov
Tonislav Hristov, Lubomir Tsvetkov
Orlin Ruevski
Momchil Bozhkov, Veselin Zografov
Petar Dundakov
Making Movies Oy, Soul Food

Tonislav Hristov, born 1978, is a Bulgarian filmmaker, living in Finland since moving there for his film studies in 2001. In 2008, he directed his first documentary film “Family Fortune” for the Finnish Broadcasting Company and Bulgarian National Television. His first feature length documentary “Rules of Single Life” premiered in Finnish cinemas in 2011. The film won best documentary award at Sofia International Film Festival and was shown at many others. “The Good Postman” is his sixth documentary film as director.

  • 2016 - The Good Postman (documentary
  • 2015 - Once Upon A Dream: Journey to the Last Spaghetti Western (documentary)
  • 2014 - Love & Engineering (documentary)
  • 2013 - Soul Food Stories (documentary)
  • 2011 - Rules of Single Life (documentary)
  • 2010 - Pirtutrokarit (documentary short )
  • 2009 - Perhe (documentary)
  • 2005 - Hercules (documentary short )