A small and stubborn Bulgarian village facing the Turkish border has been resisting foreign invaders since the times of the Roman and Ottoman Empires. Now its electorate of 38 elderly Bulgarians is deciding on future of Europe.
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.
On the eastern edge of Bulgaria, bordering Turkey, amid wizened orchards and an ancient patchwork of farmlands, sits a poor and sleepy hamlet that time seems to have forgotten. Despite the sparse population of silver-haired citizens wistful for the brighter days of communism, democracy is in full force as the village prepares in earnest for its mayoral election. Meanwhile, an endless train of Syrian refugees bound for Europe silently traipses through the rural terrain, visible through the binoculars of one gentle and taciturn candidate, the postman.
With dry humor 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.
The Good Postman is the best kind of microcosm documentary, one that boasts an expansive worldview. ROGEREBERT.COM