In the Hungarian town of Satovcha in Soul Food Stories, Muslim, Christian, Roma and atheist Communists live together peacefully, united by their love of their families and community, rituals of food, prayer, conversation, fasting, and seasonal festivals, and divided, only superficially, by their religious or political identities. The members of this multi-generational community share a past in which each of their identities have been variously oppressed by some form of native or foreign government; directly or indirectly, they are connected to a past of political upheaval, genocide, brutality, and conquest. However, it is clear, at least in this community, that their determination to lead normal, honest lives, particularly as they navigate contemporary issues as a community—homosexuality, women’s rights, immigrating to America, tourism—helps them to transition from “old-world” Hungary to a newer, shifting European and global landscape (there’s a funny bit about Korean Christian Evangelists). The director Tonislav Hristov lets the citizens speak for themselves, and in this, we are treated to the nuances of language, food, gender relations, and a genuine spirit of community. It gives one hope that while governments (democratic or not) may come and go, community ties last forever. Soul Food Stories begins with a gentleman’s anecdote about the relationship between jeans and male virility, and ends with a joke about Bosnia-Herzegovina. This just about indicates the film’s tone, intent, and wonderful sense of humor.
Istoria za hranata i dushata (Soul Food Stories), dir. Tonislav Hristov, 69 min. 2013. In Bulgarian.