Balkan Royal

By Kevork Aslanyan | Documentary
A man who sells and restores pianos dreams of becoming an orchestra conductor.

Peter Dimitrov is a skilled restorer and seller of pianos, with a deep knowledge and sensitivity of his instrument. He also still yearns to fulfill his dream of becoming a well-known conductor.

Writer-director Kevork Aslanyan trains his lens on a man with a gift for music and a dream he still longs to pursue in this engaging character portrait. Dimitrov has achieved excellence in his trade, and clearly possesses a deep well of knowledge and feeling for the instrument at the center of his craft. He began a business selling and restoring pianos in 1991.

But even as an older, middle-aged man 25 years later, he still hasn’t forgotten his original dream to lead a world-class orchestra as a conductor, even as he grew his business and started and supported a family.

The film uses loose, energetic hand-held camerawork to capture Dimitrov in his everyday life and work while also thoughtfully chronicling the ups and downs of his life as well as the intricacies of his work.

Restoring and reselling these beautiful musical instruments proves to be a complex, complicated business, and the doc draws attention to just how skillful and intelligent a worker must be to do it.

Yet in some ways, his skill and talent with rebuilding pianos has proven too prodigious — and the politics of orchestras and conducting too complicated — and he finds himself as far from his original goal than ever.

But despite his success, Dimitrov still manages to keep his dream of conducting alive despite the hubbub of life. In a sense, the film captures just how this dream — despite whether it is realistic or not — is a key part of Peter’s very soul, and nourishing his dream is how he nourishes his very self.

The result is a compelling snapshot into a dignified, talented artist and craftsman, who still infuses his life with creativity despite its distance from his original dream. It looks at the tensions inherent in the business of everyday liivng that can keep all of us from following our original goals — and yet find dignity and beauty in the reality of the present.

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