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, Russe, 2002.
Pancho and Natka, Sunny Beach, 2004.
Georgi and Vela, Bourgas, 2005.
Stefan, Dimitar and Izaura, Bulgarov, 2002.
Kalinka, Primorsko, 2002.
Stefka and Stefan, Shoumen, 2003.
Stanka and Dimitar, Sofia, 2002.
From Stefan's photoalbum.
Mariana and Marin, Bourgas, 2004.
From "Mechkar". 2002-2006.
From "Mechkar" 110x110cm
Tampere Photo Festival, Finland, 2005.
Museum für Photographie, Braunschweig, 2007.
MECHKAR-THE STORY OF
A BULGARIAN BEAR OWNER
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.