Review: ‘Georgi and the Butterflies’

Director of an impoverished home for "psychologically challenged" men, Dr. Georgi Lulchev throws himself into schemes for keeping his wards both happily occupied and productive. Pic won the Silver Wolf at Amsterdam's docu fest and should easily win over other fest auds before becoming a small-screen pleaser.

The psychiatrist in Andrey Paounov’s delightful docu “Georgi and the Butterflies” finds his dreams constantly thwarted by circumstances, but his infectious, glowing enthusiasm transcends the setbacks. Director of an impoverished home for “psychologically challenged” men, Dr. Georgi Lulchev throws himself into schemes for keeping his wards both happily occupied and productive, never flagging when the snail or ostrich farms don’t quite pan out. The first Bulgarian docu with seven international associate producers, pic won the Silver Wolf at Amsterdam’s docu fest and should easily win over other fest auds before becoming a small-screen pleaser.

When therapists were laid off after state funding all but dried up, Lulchev devised grand plans to take advantage of the home’s 100 acres — from silkworm production to soybean farming, all seen as ways of making money and keeping his charges active. Paounov doesn’t explain why each idea fails, instead concentrating on the good doctor’s zeal and his successive dreams. Docu is full of lovely touches; patients (never presented exploitatively) are introduced via their unique eating utensils, and music is marvelously used to suit each section.

Georgi and the Butterflies

Bulgaria

Production

An Agitprop production, with the support of the National Film Center in association with Channel 4 (U.K.)/YLE TV2 Documentaries (Finland)/WGBH (U.S.)/CBC (Canada)/NRK (Norway)/SVT (Sweden)/HOS (Netherlands). (International sales: TV2, Copenhagen.) Produced by Martichka Bozhilova. Directed, written by Andrey Paounov.

Crew

Camera (color), Boris Missirkov, Georgi Bogdanov; editor, Zoritsa Kotseva; music, Ivo Paunov, Vihren Paunov; sound, Momchil Bozhkov, Neno Nenov; sound mixer, Bozhkov. Reviewed at Sofia Film Festival (Balkan Screenings), March 13, 2005 (Also at the Slamdance Festival.) Bulgarian, English dialogue. Running time: 60 MIN.
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