Review: ‘Whose is This Song?’

The journey in quest of an answer, rather than the answer itself, becomes the focus of "Whose Is This Song?", a potentially interesting but poorly structured docu by filmmaker Adela Peeva about the search for the ethnicity of a well-known folk ditty. Re-editing could equip pic for TV exposure, as the basic idea is fascinating and timely.

The journey in quest of an answer, rather than the answer itself, becomes the focus of “Whose Is This Song?”, a potentially interesting but poorly structured docu by filmmaker Adela Peeva about the search for the ethnicity of a well-known folk ditty. Re-editing could equip pic for TV exposure, as the basic idea is fascinating and timely.

Film owes its genesis to a dinner in Istanbul at which a Greek, a Macedonian, a Turk, a Serb and Bulgarian Peeva each claimed national ownership of the same melody. Peeva set out across the Balkans to discover the truth. She found a ’60s movie (Ulku Erakasin’s “Katip”) was based on it in Turkey; the Greeks claim it originates from the island of Lesvos; the Albanians trace it to the town of Korca; the Serbs and Bosnians can’t agree on anything; the Macedonians swear it’s a war song used for “Islamicization”; and the Bulgarians still sing it in Slivan, where they rose up against the Ottoman Empire. Uncovering mutual strife instead of Balkan unity, film ends pessimistically. Second half is stronger than the first, however, and more input by musicologists would have helped.

Whose is This Song?

Bulgaria-Belgium

Production

An Adela Media (Bulgaria)/Periscope Prods. (Belgium) production, in association with Arte/ORD, YLE, Danmarks Radio. (International sales: Adela, Sofia, Bulgaria.) Produced by Adela Peeva. Co-producer, Paul Pauwels. Directed, written by Adela Peeva.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Zhoro Nedelkov; editor, Yelio Yelev. Reviewed at Sofia Film Festival, Bulgaria, March 15, 2003. English narration version.Running time: 70 MIN.
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