Section: What´s left?

THE LONELY LONG-DISTANCE RUNNERS - Four stories of journalists from the Balkans


Boris Missirkov/ Georgi Bogdanov
BG, 2022, 85 Min

Journalism under pressure. In many places across south eastern Europe working conditions in the media industry are characterised by symbiotic relationships between business, politics and the media. Those who ask too many questions are often intimidated, even to the point of physical violence. Five investigative journalists talk about their everyday lives and why they still do their job.

For years, the south eastern European nations have occupied nothing more than mid-table positions in the media freedom rankings of non-governmental organisations such as Reporters Without Borders. It’s difficult to discern significant progress. Concentrations of market power, digitalisation and the dependence of most publishers and broadcasters on the goodwill of politicians and grants from the private sector lead to financial bottlenecks, the loss of independence and ultimately a lack of diversity of information. Networks such as the "Balkan Investigative Research Network" support the socially indispensable oversight function of the media. The film shows the stories on which Serbian journalist Jelena Zorić, the Romanian journalist couple Diana Onciou and Vlad Stoicescu, Albanian Aleksandra Bogdan and Bulgarian Anton Batakov are working, how they are trying to improve the situation and what obstacles they come up against in the process. In-depth insights into a press and broadcasting landscape characterised by a loss of control.

This will be followed by a discussion in English.

SlowTalk after the film: Southeastern Europe -Journalism under Pressure

The documentary THE LONELY LONGDISTANCE RUNNERS shows how journalists and media managers in Southeastern Europe come under pressure. They bring unpleasant questions to the public, demand transparency in the political culture and are often hindered or threatened in their work. Journalists from the region discuss and report on their experiences. The names of the panelists can be found on our website. Event in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.


Andon Baltakov - former director general of Bulgarian National Radio

Alexandra Bogdani - investigative journalist from Albania

Boris Missirkov - director of the documentary, AgitProp Sofia

Hendrik Sittig - Head of Media Program South East Europe of Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Sofia

Boris Missirkov/Georgi Bogdanov
Martichka Bozhilova
Boris Missirkov/ Georgi Bogdanov

Boris Missirkov/ Georgi Bogdanov - The creative duo Boris Missirkov and Georgi Bogdanov are internationally acclaimed Bulgarian cinematographers, directors, visual artists and photographers. Authors of visual campaigns, full-length documentaries, videos and short films. Ideologists and founders of AGITPROP Production Company and co- founders of Bulgarian Photographic Association. DOP of the most successful AGITPROP’s films, among which: Georgi and the Butterflies (Silver Wolf, IDFA – Amsterdam), The Mosquito Problem and other stories (Cannes, Grierson Award for best documentary, BFI London), Corridor #8 (Berlinale, Independent Ecumenical Jury Award) and The Boy, Who Was a King (Toronto International). DOP of the first original Bulgarian productions for HBO, documentaries Concrete Pharaohs and Paradise Hotel (Golden Magnolia for Best doc; Thessaloniki Best Doc) and of Dad Made Dirty Movies (Visions du Reel, Switzerland, sold to more than 30 territories) etc. Authors of the first original Bulgarian content for National Geographic, Explore Bulgaria (5 seasons), 2014-2019. Directors of The Ladino Ladies’ Club (co- production Bulgaria/ USA), screened at Best of Fests – IDFA, Warsaw IFF. Directors of series and feature Palace for the People (Bulgaria, Germany, Romania) - world premiere Dok Leipzig 2018, Dok Buster Award for an audience favourite; broadcast on BBC, ARTE, MDR, SVT, NHK and many others. Authors of The Sweetest Thing (800k views online, nominated for Best Bulgarian Short Film, Sofia IFF 2020) and The Cars We Drove Into Capitalism (world  premiere: Dok Leipzig 2021, Tallin Black Nights 2021,  ZagrebDox 2022, CPH:Dox 2022).

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