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Perhaps the most beautiful poem by one of the best Bulgarian poets of all time – Nikola Vaptsarov (1909-1942) – is called “A Song for Mankind”. It tells of an argument between the lyrical hero and a lady who thinks that modern man is vile and crude, citing as evidence a murder of a father by a son for money. The lyrical hero, because he feels challenged with theory, decides to enlighten the story in real terms “in a gradual, friendly endeavor”… He traces the facts and arrives at the moment when the murderer “in prison, however, he met people decent – the killer humanity found”.

Inspired by these verses, Mrs. Kremena Budinova, a blind Bulgarian journalist of Roma origin, created 10 10-minute films dedicated to the stories of people from the Roma community in Bulgaria. They are the key part of the project “… slowly, without malice, humanly …”,  financed by the Active Citizens-Bulgaria Fund under the Financial Mechanism of the European Economic Area (the so called Norwegian grants). The name of the project is borrowed from the already quoted Vaptsarov’s poem “A Song for Mankind”: “… slowly, without malice, humanly …” is actually the literal translation in Bulgarian of the poem’s verse “in a gradual, friendly endeavor” (as is the official translation in English). 

In this way, placing the emphasis on fact checks and human experiences, the Roma TV journalist follows the life situation of her characters, who talk to the camera about themselves and about the turns in their life path. It is an approach centered on revealing the human in man and eliciting understanding and sympathy from the audience – as a counterpoint to the generally negative public image of the representatives of the Roma community in this Eastern European country.

The characters of Kremna are different: ordinary people, but also iconic representatives of the Roma culture in Bulgaria, such as the well-known Roma poet Ms. Sally Ibrahim and Mr. Angel Tichaliev, leader of Karandilla – the most famous Roma wind orchestra in Bulgaria.

There are touching stories about a single mother raising her autistic child, a family whose members met in an orphanage, a beggar who became a health professional, and more. Each story reveals the intimate world of the protagonist(s) and at the same time makes generalizations and sends messages to society.

And although it so happens that the films about Sally Ibrahim and Angel Tichaliev appear on the air of the Bulgarian National Television in memoriam – i.e. these are actually the last shots of them before their dying – generally the films have an optimistic charge, which is their intention.

All 10 films were broadcast in the “Short Stories” series in the social slot of the Bulgarian National Television, and a special selection was screened in a cinema in Sofia on July 30, 2022.

The collection of films with English subtitles can also be found at the following Internet address:

Stanimir Kiskinov

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