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Film Review: Blaga’s Lessons (Eine Frage Der Würde – Blaga’s Lessons, Urotcite Na Blaga)
by Pat Frickey

Stephan Komandarev, Bulgaria, Germany 2023

Blaga (a brilliant Eli Skorcheva), a seventy-year-old retired teacher has only one thing on her mind, burying her recently deceased husband, a police officer, with dignity; she firmly believes she has only a forty-day window to save his soul. The graveyard manager (Stefan Denolyubov) gives her the hard sell, and for a respectable plot with a view, she must come up with the funds quickly before it is snatched away by another grieving widow. He expounds that Bulgaria is now a capitalistic country with a market economy; his hands are tied. Luckily Blaga can scrape the money together, though her son Lyudmil (Gerasim Georgiev) who regularly FaceTimes with her, working night and day from a delivery truck in the USA, tries to talk her out spending her life savings on a funeral and burial plot. But Blaga is a determined woman.

The one bright spot in her bleak, isolated existence, is tutoring a lovely, young foreigner (Rozalia Abgarian). She is teaching her Bulgarian so she can become a citizen. The student is overjoyed to be living in this amazing country with her Bulgarian husband after escaping an unnamed country where the bombs are always falling. Blaga enjoys earning some money on the side to supplement her meager pension. Additionally, she relishes constantly correcting her student for the slightest error. Blaga is a grammar-Nazi who leaves no grammatical error unmentioned, especially when encountering her fellow countrymen.

Then disaster strikes. Blaga falls victim to a phone scam and loses all the money (and even her wedding ring) to swindlers who prey on older folks. But Blaga is a determined woman, and when the police stand helplessly by, she schemes to get her money back. Her moral compass gets lost in shuffle to bury her husband in the forty-day window. She may have saved his soul, but what about her own?