Dreaming of the West, Boryana is determined not to have a child in communist Bulgaria. Nonetheless, her daughter Viktoria enters the world in 1979, curiously missing a belly button, and is declared the country's Baby of the Decade. Pampered by her mother state until the age of nine, Viktoria's decade of notoriety comes crashing down with the rest of European communism. But can political collapse and the hardship of new times finally bring Viktoria and her reluctant mother closer together? Written by
John Nein, Senior Programmer (Sundance Institute)
I agree with another reviewer that this is a masterpiece. I've never seen a movie by, for, and about women that was so powerful. The reviews for this film will probably come down along gender and/or religious lines. What I took away from this movie was the point that not all women want to have children and no amount of pressure from men, religion, family, or society can change that. When safe abortion was or is not available, many teenagers find themselves ill prepared physically, emotionally, or financially to care for a child since they are still children themselves. When illegal or haphazard abortion techniques are used, women die. So, it's important that children are expected and wanted. While it's very important that a child be loved, the person doing the nurturing doesn't have to be the mother.
The lead actress poignantly portrayed the type of despair that women feel when their lives are predetermined by pregnancy, men, relatives, religion, politics, or society. You don't have to live in a repressive regime like Bulgaria to be a woman under stress to become a mother. That can (and does) happen everywhere in the world. In most societies, women suffer scorn and social ostracism if they don't want to get married and have children. Mostly, women don't have access to education or opportunity to do anything other than marry and reproduce. The female body seems to be viewed more as function.
It was ironic that the Bulgarian politicos thought that a baby girl with no belly button was emblematic of the new age of communism. I wonder how they would have celebrated if it was a boy with no penis. Maybe that's a topic for another movie.
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