Thu, 01/01/2009 - 13:29

Digging in useless junk and the Belogradchik Rocks

Ernestina Shinova

At the Zlatna roza, or Golden Rose, Film Festival in 2008, Ernestina Shinova won the Best Leading Actress Award for her performance in Hindemith, a film directed by her husband Andrey Slabakov. She worked double time to earn it – she plays both main characters, who spend their days obsessively watching commercials and buying the latest Hindemith brand products. A parody of the nouveau riche's consumer lifestyle, the film strikes a rare balance of humour and melancholy.

Although she has hit it big on the Bulgarian screen, Shinova considers herself a "citizen of the world." She lived in Italy for nine years after winning a competition to study acting. However, nostalgia and her wish to give birth to her daughter, Yoanna, in Bulgaria brought her back home.

What was the hardest part about filming Hindemith?

I had to sacrifice my vanity to a large extent: to play two different characters forced me to distort my own appearance. However, I'm not afraid of looking ugly on screen as long as it serves the role. Also, we shot the film in the fields of Gorublyane near Sofia during an exceptionally cold summer. I had two silk dressing gowns to help me stay cool in the heat, but the weather didn't cooperate.

What is the film's message?

The film's main theme is truly universal – how society has changed into a mass of consumers. This raises the question, "What are we really living for?" You don't need to make a high-brow film to communicate a serious message. Art is infinitely rich in its means of expression. That's what we're trying to show with our film – that even while laughing you can get the message; you don't necessarily need to be crying. I really like those viewers who chuckle throughout the film's 100 minutes and afterwards say "Wow, what a sad film!" The film is meant to entertain and to get people to think about the society we live in – you can't get anywhere in life merely by being a consumer. It reminds me of a museum of useless things where an expensive pen made by NASA for use in space was on display next to the simple pencil Gagarin used to write while in orbit. The problem is our constant desire for newer and more expensive things that in the end we don't really need.

Hindemith is part of Andrey Slabakov's Travelling Bulgarian Cinema project and will be shown all over the country. How do you think audiences will react to it?

Such initiatives have convinced me that it's not true that Bulgarians don't like watching Bulgarian cinema. People don't go to the movies just for fun: they take an active interest in them and search for new films. Hindemith communicates with the audience on many levels and has also resonated well with foreigners. In future we have plans to expand the programme.

What film would you recommend to foreigners in Bulgaria?

Of course, Hindemith – I've seen with my own eyes that foreigners enjoy it. I recently found myself at a showing of Svetoslav Ovcharov's new film The Only Love Story Hemingway Didn't Write, which I wouldrecommend too. I don't think Bulgarian films have to be about Communism to capture people's attention. That topic has long ceased to interest young people.

Are you a globetrotter?

I'm crazy about travelling. Before my daughter was born, I would hit the road with only a toothbrush, cash and my passport. Now, of course, I have to take along a lot more stuff, depending on where we're going. Once I ended up almost at the North Pole in just a T-shirt, so since then I always take extra clothes with me. I lived in Italy for nine years and still one half of me is there, the other here. Travelling means you are communicating with the world.

Why a citizen of the world?

I've talked with many foreigners and many Bulgarians abroad from all walks of life. Not all of them have been very well educated, some can neither read nor write, but I find their conversation always highly stimulating. I always try to get to know people, as they are what matters in a country. It is they who create a nation's image, not the natural landscape or the sea or beautiful buildings.

Ernestina Shinova

What place in the world would you like to visit most?

China. That's my dream. I have some friends there, so I think I would be able to get a deeper look at the country and not just the tourist attractions.

How do you relax?

One of my favourite things is to go to a sanatorium – it's quiet, calm and there are people to take care of me. There I can totally relax. I also love the absolute wilderness of the Strandzha, where I can hike around and imagine the rituals that were performed there in honour of the goddess Isis. I love being out in nature, so Bulgaria is ideal for holidays.

What are your favourite places in Bulgaria?

The Belogradchik Rocks are a magical and divine place. If the makers of The Lord of the Rings had seen the place, they would've shot the film there – it's the perfect home for elves. It's especially picturesque in autumn – the grass is still bright green, the trees are a brilliant red, like in a fairy-tale. One other favourite place for me is the village of Brashlyan in the Strandzha. There you can find temples to Isis and all sorts of ancient mysteries all over the mountains. The atmosphere in the forests is very mystical and intriguing.

Any spots you'd like to hide from foreigners?

Yes, but I'll keep them a secret – not because of some misguided patriotism, but because I hope we Bulgarians will take care of these places.

Issue 28-29

Commenting on

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on


Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

katya dimitrova interpartners
Celebrating 30 years on a market is an achievement for any company in our fast-moving world. This is even truer in the quickly changing and highly competitive field of advertisement and PR.

dr bonka mutafchiyska
The interview with Dr Bonka Mutafchiyska, a leading dentist with almost 20 years of practice, was not an ordinary one. We wanted to know more about the personality of the founder of the outstanding Mutafchiyska Dent Clinic, in Plovdiv.

Dr Branimir Kirilov Medical Dent
The quality of dental professionals in Bulgaria is impressive, but even in this highly competitive field one name stands out.

m+s hydraulic vladimir spasov
When talking about successful business stories in Bulgaria, M+S Hydraulic PLC is one of the best examples. Based in Kazanlak, in the Valley of Roses and Thracian Kings, it will soon celebrate 60 years on the market.

Petar Torneff, Director of Accenture Technology Center in Bulgaria
How will technology develop and how will it affect the way we live and do business? This is a tough question that has engaged the brightest minds of our time.

Vladimir Dokov EGT
Euro Games Technology (EGT) is an example of the concept that everything is possible when the right goals are set, and innovation goes together with strategic management and a winner’s mindset.

higia hospitals tsvetelina spiridonova
When Tsvetelina Spiridonova, MD, PhD, took over Higia Hospital in early 2019, she had big shoes to fill.

Silvia Veselinova welcomes us to the new offices of Idea Buildings where she is surrounded by smiling colleagues and a multitude of tulips.

Giuseppina Zarra
Giuseppina Zarra is no novice to the Balkans. She is one of the rare breed of diplomats who have made a comeback to Sofia after her initial spell here in the 1990s.

dr nely djurkova art dent clinic
When beautiful and healthy smile is concerned, Dr Neli Djurkova is one of the best specialists around to ask for advice and help.