2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: THE GOOD POSTMAN

good postmanTHE GOOD POSTMAN
Tonislav Hristov explores Europe’s refugee crisis through the lens of a Bulgarian village’s mayoral election.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition


Sundance Program Description:

On the eastern edge of Bulgaria, bordering Turkey, amid wizened orchards and an ancient patchwork of farmlands, sits a poor and sleepy hamlet that time seems to have forgotten. Despite the sparse population of silver-haired citizens wistful for the brighter days of communism, democracy is in full force as the village prepares in earnest for its mayoral election. Meanwhile, an endless train of Syrian refugees bound for Europe silently traipses through the rural terrain, visible through the binoculars of one gentle and taciturn candidate, the postman.

Told through indelible, lush images, this quietly cinematic film exposes seismic divisions regarding immigration and what it means to be European in an age of global displacement and shifting political systems. With dry humor and remarkable sensitivity toward its beguiling ensemble of characters, Tonislav Hristov’s documentary plays like a scripted narrative, with the postman as the film’s grounding hero – a man who sees encroaching darkness not in the desperate exiles filing across his land, but in his own increasingly closed-off and distrustful town.

Some Background:

  • Tonislav Hristov
    Finland-based Bulgarian-born Hristov’s sixth doc feature, which premiered in competition at IDFA last November, is his first Sundance film. Previously films include LOVE & ENGINEERING.


  • Kaarle Aho
    Past Sundance docs:

    HAPPINESS (2014)

    Making Movies’ Aho is also a co-producer of the Oscar-nominated THE LOOK OF SILENCE and produced Hristov’s previous films.

  • Kai Nordberg
    Aho’s Making Movies colleague also produced Hristov’s earlier work. This is his first Sundance project.


  • Andrea Stanoeva
    This is also Stanoeva’s first Sundance credit.


  • Nikolai Hartmann
    Hartmann has also cut Hristov’s past two docs.

Why You Should Watch:
Hristov expertly captures Ivan and the rhythms of his small dying village, which, through its intersection with the refugee crisis, serves as a microcosm for the larger continent and its growing polarization and xenophobia. Leavening his portrait with ample humor, the filmmaker crafts an appealing, if ultimately sobering look at small-town politics and tensions.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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