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The Boy Who Was a King

The eccentricity that informed Andrey Paounov's first feature docu, "The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories," runs like a live wire throughout his amusing "The Boy Who Was a King."

With: Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. (Bulgarian, English dialogue)

The eccentricity that informed Andrey Paounov’s first feature docu, “The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories,” runs like a live wire throughout his amusing “The Boy Who Was a King.” Resisting standard documaking codes, Paounov’s portrait of the unusual political career of Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Bulgaria’s child king during WWII and later elected prime minister, is also a study of his fellow Bulgarians and their tendency to carry their love of royalty too far. Pic’s just a miniature, but it would be a mistake for nonfiction fests to overlook it.

Assuming the throne at age 7 in 1943, King Simeon was thrown into the absurd situation of being the world’s youngest head of state as well as an ally of Hitler, then fled to Cairo at war’s end when the U.S.S.R. took control of defeated Bulgaria. Pic’s terrific use of archival footage includes an exiled Simeon interviewed in the early ’60s, disputing his playboy rep. His post-1989 return as a national hero goes south when his term as elected P.M. proves a failure, but pic offers hilarious examples of popular support for Simeon, including lots of tattooing. Editing is aces.

The Boy Who Was a King


Production: An Agitprop production in co-production with Zero One Film and Bayerischer Rundfunk, in association with Channel 4/TSR/YLE. (International sales: Autlook Filmsales, Vienna.) Produced by Martichka Bozhilova. Directed, written by Andrey Paounov.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, HD), Boris Missirkov, Georgi Bogdanov; editors, Svetla Neykova, Rene Froelke, Georgi Bogdanov, Paounov; music, Ivo Paunov. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Real to Reel), Sept. 14, 2011. (Also in London Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. (Bulgarian, English dialogue)

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