Review: ‘Death and All the Way Back’

Helmer Zornitsa Sophia turns a sympathetic videocamera on a commune program for heroin addicts in encouraging docu that puts a human face on the program's remarkable 85% success rate. Occasionally repetitive short feature could coast on Sophia's recent success before settling down on onto Euro cable.

“Mila from Mars” helmer Zornitsa Sophia turns a sympathetic videocamera on a commune program for heroin addicts in “Death and All the Way Back,” an encouraging docu that puts a human face on the program’s remarkable 85% success rate. Participants baldly trace their addiction and the difficult road back, including unsuccessful hospital treatments, until their arrival at the self-sufficient farm in rural Bulgaria where constant work is the key to recovery. Occasionally repetitive short feature could coast on Sophia’s recent success before settling down on onto Euro cable.

Emphasis at the commune is on work: all participants chop wood (and chop, and chop … ), cook, plant, and tend the animals, putting in exhausting days to prevent them from thinking about where they can get a fix. Stays usually last about three years; in the early days, each person is assigned a shadow who never leaves his side, even on trips to the bathroom. Families movingly speak of the horrors of watching their kids turn into thieving addicts and then back into normal sons thanks to the commune. Video quality is mixed, especially in the darker scenes; key song is overused.

Death and All the Way Back

Bulgaria

Production

A Bulgarian National Television, Camera production. Producer, Dimitar Gotchev. Directed, written by Zornitsa Sophia.

Crew

Camera (color/b&w, DV), Kristina Nikolova; editor, Alexander Etimov; music, Androniya Popova-Yaneva, Rumen Boyadjiev Jr., DJ Elena. Reviewed at Sofia Film Festival (Balkan Screenings), March 12, 2005. (Original title: Smurtta i cheliyat put obratno) Running time: 63 MIN.

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