Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s third film is a social parable cum chess game about a pawn who gets unwillingly promoted, then tries to take out a queen and ends up sacrificed. Living alone with only his rabbits as companions, bearded railway linesman Tsanko Petrov (Stefan Denolyubov) discovers millions of lev on the train tracks. When he decides to report the money rather than pocketing it, his coworkers label him the “fool of the nation”, but the Ministry of Transport – currently embroiled in their own scandal regarding a carriage resell scam – take the opportunity to parade about their new hero on TV and at an award ceremony. Little do they know that Tsanko, however, is a loser who suffers from a debilitating stutter and might not be the best exemplar of Bulgarian honesty and responsibility on TV.
But compared to the intense and driven Julia Staikova (Margita Gosheva), the ministry’s head of PR, who treats him like used piece of tissue paper and sees herself as surrounded by retards, he’s an outright angel sent from heaven. When Julia removes his watch – the titular Slava (Glory), Tsanko’s Rosebud, inscribed and presented to him by his father – for the ceremony in order to present him with a new and improved digital model, it sets off a frequently hilarious chain of events that threatens to bring down the ministry thanks to a combination of corruption, irresponsibility and arrogance. All of this transpires while Julia is undergoing embryonic fertilization treatment which, to the annoyance of her husband, she treats as yet another irritation. Grozeva and Valchanov stage and film these outlandish, yet entirely probable events with an accomplished fluidity, creating a pointed work that illustrates the complete separation of a government and the citizens it’s engaged to serve.Mark Peranson