“No Way to Say Goodbye” is a feature length documentary, in development, about my confrontation with a reality I came to experience following the death of my father Nikolay Slavchev Dimitrov (1960-2017).
On 26 September 2017, my father was involved in a car accident on his way to work. Fighting for his life, he was taken to a local hospital in the small town of Targovishte, Bulgaria. Instead of receiving the treatment he needed, he was neglected and verbally abused. He later died from blood loss.
In the days and weeks following his death, my mother, sister and I had faith that an ongoing investigation would reveal the cause of my father’s death. But instead of answers, all we got from the police and public prosecutor was manipulated evidence. The only conclusion was that the crash appeared to be my father’s fault. We were left with questions and suspicions.
What happened to my father is not an isolated case, but a story frequently repeated in Bulgaria. These incidents are usually buried in silence.
“No Way to Say Goodbye” shines a light on Bulgaria's apathetic and broken legal and healthcare systems. In doing so, it delves into critical themes such as the right to life and to a fair trial. By telling my father’s story, I hope to inspire change so that no other family has to go through what mine experienced.
The United Nations projects that Bulgaria’s population will fall from 7 million people in 2017 to just 5.2 million people in 2050. This makes Bulgaria the world’s fastest shrinking country.
The first time I learned this fact about my homeland, I was sitting in Sydney, Australia, where I was living at the time. My first reaction was: How is it possible to reach such a level of self-destruction?
A few months later, the sudden death of my father made me say goodbye to my life in Australia and return to Targovishte, my little hometown in Bulgaria. I was unaware of the extent to which 15 years abroad had distanced me from the reality of my parents’ daily lives. Suddenly, there I was, back in the country where I was born – but this time to experience its cruel and cold face.
While trying to fight society’s shortcomings, I started to understand that our family’s tragedy was a real-life case study. My father’s story reveals some of the factors leading to Bulgaria’s striking population decline. The idea of making this film was born. As hard as it is, I realised that I needed to talk about my individual experience to communicate the bigger picture.
I will be guiding the narration of the story, which will take the form of a film essay. “No Way to Say Goodbye” will be based on my own personal experience as well as stories shared by ordinary people I have encountered upon my return to Bulgaria. This film goes beyond statistics to examine how a society’s failures manifest in the lives of ordinary people.
I first started my career in advertising, but shortly after the urge to create social impact made me change direction. I studied Film Direction and Production at the University of Sydney, as well as audiovisual communication, film and semiotics of mass media, as part of my degree in advertising at the University of Alicante, Spain. I also hold a joint Master of Arts degree in European studies from the University of Groningen, Netherlands and the University of Deusto, Spain.
I bring a diverse background from having lived and worked on 3 continents, 8 countries and 5 languages. The sum of these experiences has influenced strongly the way I view reality and certainly the way I craft stories. My most recent award-winning short film, A Heart in Nature, told the story of Chris Darwin, the far removed grandson of scientist, Charles Darwin. The touching narrative of a single man's personal struggle finishes with a message of environmental mobilisation. This is my signature - to weave a tale around human lives, hoping to touch hearts, but also call to action our collective consciousness.