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“The Great Gate”, an almost deserted Bulgarian village on the border with Turkey, and its 38 elderly voters have to elect a new mayor. Among the candidates, Ivan the postman has come up with an unconventional plan to breathe new life into his village: to welcome the Syrian refugees passing by their border every day. Following the three candidates’ campaigns, this film draws a tragicomic portrait of a sleepy village that suddenly finds itself awaken by the European crisis.
Tonislav Hristov was born in Vratza, Bulgaria, in 1978. He studied engineering at the Technical University of Russia. In 2003, he moved to Helsinki and went to film school. He directed his first documentary, Family Fortune (2008), for YLE and the Bulgarian National Television. His feature debut, Rules of Single Life (2011,) found its way into both Finnish and Bulgarian distribution, winning Best Documentary at the Sofia IFF and screening at a variety of other festivals (Jihlava IDFF, Sarajevo IFF). Hristov’s next three projects earned him great success; Soul Food Stories (2013) was nominated for best documentary in the medium-length competition at Amsterdam’s IDFA, while Love and Engineering (2014) screened at New York’s Tribeca and Toronto’s Hot Docs, opened Visions du Réel in Nyon, Switzerland, and won the audience award at Doc Point, Helsinki. His previous documentary, Once Upon a Dream – A Journey to the Last Spaghetti Western (2015), premiered at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.