Directed by Teodor Todorov (Теодор Тодоров) Starring Jordan Opitz (Йордан Опиц), Marin Markovski (Марин Марковски) and Elijah Tsotsin (Илия Цоцин) Documentary Film Review by Lorenzo Lombardi
The truth can be clouded in many ways, especially in a crime case. A Brush Soaked in Carmine, a Bulgarian documentary directed by Teodor Todorov, presents such a case where we will never know the true intentions of the perpetrator and whether it was manslaughter or downright murder, but to just interpret it. This allows the film to create a custom and personal connection with the audience based off their beliefs and ideals, making this a documentary film that stands out.
In 2007, Jordan Opitz shot and killed Marian Ianchev. The victim was trying to escape Optiz’s apartment, of which him and his friend were accused of burgling. Opitz stated that this was in self-defence but others, including Marian’s friend, think he had malevolent intent.
Uncommonly, the killer in question is an iconographer. He paints religious icons and has a decent amount of moral standards. Initially, he seems vulnerable and well-meaning, coupled with his lack of an eye. Perception of him is explored, however, and his ideals are increasingly conflicting as the interviews progress. Editing in the film is deliberate. The increasing criticism of Opitz’s actions from the opposing lawyer undertone Opitz’s vanity-filled comments, without giving any side an edge. I still cannot decide whether or not he meant to murder the burglar.
What makes A Brush Soaked in Carmine particularly engaging is its amount of balance and sheer impartiality. Each side of the story is told by the people who experienced it. And mostly nothing else; because this documentary’s 1-hour runtime mainly consists of interviews, alongside rare but effective re-enactments. As a result, none of the documentary tropes are here, except for the interviews and re-enactments. This is suitable, then, as the aim of the documentary is to solely gather the thoughts and feelings of the victims and the people who had to witness a tragedy. And most of the people involved have tragedies of their own - from the loss of a friend to a tarnished reputation.
The interviews themselves are very compelling, as the interviewees are very eloquent and involved with the events, even nearly a decade after. A particularly memorable person showcased is Vladimir Mindov. He is the friend of the deceased, and he truly shows disdain for Opitz. Justifiably, he gets emotional, and I realised how much I had changed to his side of the story. And that is one of the best aspects of the film - the earlier mentioned interpretative conclusion the viewer can make. Some also discuss the state of Bulgaria around that time - the heavy increase of crime. With this, the documentary goes poignantly beyond the story and acts as a sort of commentary on the act of self-defence and how it should be judged.
If you love captivating crime documentaries such as Making a Murderer, you will be thoroughly engrossed by A Brush Stroked in Carmine’s raw honesty and bare-bones style. This is purely a novelistic kind of documentary, and no cinematic techniques are used. Instead, we are treated to a series of interviews that are both emotionally intimate and powerfully sympathetic.
More Documentary Film Reviews here.