Ivanka and Mariana, Bourgas, 2003 Albin Biblom


Mechkar is a documentation about Bulgaria’s last dancing bears and their owners. The roma tradition and profession which has passed on from father

to son for more than a thousand years has now come to an end in Bulgaria.

The animal rights organisations Brigitte Bardot Foundation (Fra) and Vier

Pfoten (Aus) has built a bear reserve outside the town Belitsa, south of Sofia, where the dancing bears will spend the remnants of their lives. The bear owners were compensated with approximately 2000 euro for letting their

bears go to this reserve.

The documentation has resulted in a photography exhibition and a

documentary film, »Mechkar - the story of a Bulgarian bear owner«. 


Sunny, beach, 2002.

Pancho_and_Natka_ Albin Biblom.jpg

Pancho and Natka, Russe, 2002.


Pancho and Natka, Sunny Beach, 2004.


Georgi and Vela, Bourgas, 2005.


Stefan, Dimitar and Izaura, Bulgarov, 2002.


Kalinka, Primorsko, 2002.

Ivanka_Marin_Mariana Albin Biblom.jpg
Kostov Family.jpg

Kostov family.


Stefka and Stefan, Shoumen, 2003.

Dimitar_and_Stanka_ Albin Biblom.jpg

Stanka and Dimitar, Sofia, 2002.

8.Stefan, Photoalbum.jpg

From Stefan's photoalbum.

Mariana and Marin, Bourgas, 2004.

From "Mechkar". 2002-2006.

From Mechkar (40x40inch)_Albin_Biblom.jp

From "Mechkar" 110x110cm




Tampere Photo Festival, Finland, 2005.


Museum für Photographie, Braunschweig, 2007.





The Roma tradition of making a living on dancing bears has gone

from father to son for more than a thousand years. In 2000, the

animal rights organizations Vier Pfoten and the Brigitte Bardot

Foundation decided to end this tradition in Bulgaria. Stefan Dimov

Ivanov is one of the last »mechkar«, a profession that has now come

to an end. This film tells the story about him and his companion

Stefka, the bear, during their last days together.


With the threat of confiscation and his wife Ivanka needing treatment

for cancer, Stefan saw no other choice than giving up his bears to the organization. Stefka was the one closest to his heart. »- The bears

were a part of our family, like our daughters. And Stefka is special.

She is the most beautiful and popular amongst artists.« This film

follows Stefan during his last month as a »mechkar«. His thoughts

about Brigitte Bardot, democracy in Bulgaria and his life with the

bears is carried through in the narration. It’s a personal portrayal

of Stefan, his family and the bears who have supported them.

But it is also a film which emanates from the relationship between

Stefan and the filmmaker Albin Biblom.

Directed and filmed by: Albin Biblom

Sound: Svetoslav Stefanov Dimov

Edited by: Thomas Lagerman
Sound mix: Anders Nyström

Translated by: Bo Lundgren

Language: Bulgarian Subtitles: English 
Technical data: s-16mm, colour, 29min.
Production: Jenny Örnborn and Göran Olsson, Story AB
With the support of Hjalmar Palmgren, Swedish Film Institute

and Joakim Strand, Film i Skåne.



2018:  "Bibloms brottning med björnar", text by Björn Larsson in Konsten. READ

2007:  "Mechkar", Photonews-Zeitung Für Fotografie, in German. READ

2005:  "Bardot, Biblom och Björnarna", DN, in Swedish READ

2004:  "Brigitte Bardot and the Dancing Bears", by Albin Biblom and Jörn Spolander READ

2003:  "Bulgariens sista dansande björnar", text by Kristoffer Leandoer, BLM, Nr 1.

Mechkar Albin Biblom