The Last Black Sea Pirates

in 53rd Krakow Film Festival

by Marco Lombardi

Everybody’s looking for his own “treasure”, just like Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings”. Sometimes they find it, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they find it and don’t realise it. Sometimes they’re hoping not to find it, as it’s in the looking where the real goal lies. And sometimes they don’t care about that, because they unconsciously know that the treasure doesn’t exist for real. In this case the real goal is something else that is symbolically linked to the illusory “treasure”. They are looking for something when you in fact want something else.

This situation occurs in Bulgarian documentary “The Last Black Sea Pirates” by Svetoslav Stoyanov, where the characters are looking for a very real treasure. The treasure that the audience get from the film is a very real and original story — told in a realistic style — that, in dealing with mankind and its dreams, comes across as a fairy tale.

The treasure the protagonists are looking for throughout the film is one that a pirate is reported to have hidden in a small area near the Black Sea — but who knows when and, more importantly, who knows if. That’s why they’ve decided to live there, transforming that land into their own city where they build shacks and feed themselves by fishing and picking up what the forest behind them can offer. The money they somehow get is reserved for buying dynamite to help blow open the places that they think the pirate has hidden his treasure. Of course, they’re been denounced by the authorities for those explosions, but they still go on firing dynamite. Just more carefully.

With the sole exception of a couple in love — a man and a woman — that lives in a house and is looking for a treasure that would secure his future, the community is made up of men. There are also old men that resemble post-hippies and unconvincing anarchists who are living out of time, out of society, out of everything. Except pirate treasure.

In fact they are real pirates (and, as the film title suggests, it would seem that they are the last of their kind).  But their status as pirates is not defined by looking for a chest full of golden coins but by the fact that they’re fighting (maybe unconsciously) against their destiny and — above all — against the world around them.

The television they watch out of the corner of their eyes — when they sit outside playing cards, drinking alcohol and fighting one another — reveals that a big company has bought the area they’re living in, and that some architects are designing a paradise destination for tourists. So, the pirates will be soon chased away.

Is the pirate chest what are they looking for? That’s what they think. But the treasure they’re really searching for is a new world different from a current one that means only money, excessive consumption and destruction to build something new that is actually no better than what came before. They would like be somewhere else, enjoying the mystery of a life that doesn’t show up, hiding its individual treasure. Treasure that have to be looked for everyday without knowing if the chest does exist and if it really contains something worthwhile.

They don’t know what globalization is. They don’t care about it. They’re just the very last (rough) romantics before the Apocalypse.

Edited by Laurence Boyce