I have to admit, watching Kate Blewett's Bulgaria's Abandoned Children Revisited when it appeared on YouTube, a few days after its original UK broadcast, left me in awe.
Transformations in people's lives make for truly breathtaking television.
But it was not the transformation of the former Mogilino inmates that impressed me most, as breathtaking as it was to watch.
Rather, it was the transformation that Blewett and her translator had gone through in the two years since Blewett's first film that deeply impressed me.
Blewett's 2007 film Bulgaria's Abandoned Children, which I thoroughly analysed elsewhere, does not deserve to be called a documentary. It was a work of poor journalism, bordering on propaganda, by an author determined to pursue an agenda and willing to go so far as to manipulate her audience by inventing entire sections of dialogue under the pretext of translation.
Blewett could only get away with this because Bulgarian is this wonderfully obscure language that only a very small handful of people in Blewett's target audience - the UK and Western Europe - would be able to understand to some degree, let alone catch finer points of terminology.
So when I sat down to watch Bulgaria's Abandoned Children Revisited, I was prepared for more of the same.
As it turns out, it appears that Blewett's translator has managed to significantly pick up on her Bulgarian in the two years that passed since the original film was published.
Where the original film was an endless chain of mistranslations that exceeded any level of incompetence, in the first half of Revisited, which is largely a re-cap of the original film, I have only spotted a few of the translation mistakes of the original film.
Of course it would be far from me to suggest that Blewett has taken the criticism from my little person to heart, just in case anyone is wondering.
At just over six minutes into Revisited, увредени (uvredeni) is again translated as "disturbed", when it is simply the politically correct Bulgarian term for "disabled" and should have been translated as such.
More worrisome is Blewett's insistence that Bulgarian doctors "label" their patients, rather than diagnosing them, and her repeated claim that oligophrenia is "not a diagnosis that is used in the West." According to Blewett, "it is a very broad label, created in the Soviet era. It ... was often used for the warehousing of dissidents in mental asylums".
The truth is that oligophrenia is a term used in Eastern European medicine where West European doctors would use mental retardation. The fact that the term, in a different country, at a different time and under a different regime, was abused to suit different purposes, was irrelevant to the story of the children of Bulgaria's Mogilino. Unless of course Blewett was counting on her viewers being unaware of the fact that Bulgaria and the Soviet Union are two different countries.
Blewett's continued problem is her politically correct bias. In Revisited, she repeats a scene from the first film in which a dormroom full of girls are preparing to take a shower in the morning. While the girls are on their way to the shower, accompanied by both male and female caretakers, Blewetts complains about the presence of the two male caretakers.
In Revisited, however, she has left out a second shower scene from the first film, in which the boys are showered by female caretakers, something that Blewett did not seem to mind. Clearly, in Blewett's view, all men are sexually deviant monsters, potential abusers and rapists, while women are archetypal loving and caring mothers.
In the second half of the film, where Blewett no longer needs to resort to manipulating the translation in order to make things look even worse than they are, she almost manages to keep herself from applying the same technique to make things look even better than they are.
Almost, but not quite.
When the new roommate of one of the film's main characters, Didi, says about Didi's early days in the new home; "she was very disobedient. She did not socialise with us. She did not want to accept us at all," that is translated as something much milder. "She was a bit wild. She didn't get on with the rest of us," is what we are told is the level of Didi's socialisation problems after moving into her new home.
Though the second half of Revisited shows a much better filmmaker than the Blewett we saw in 2007, she remains a poor journalist and a poor documentary-maker. Blind to any social, political, cultural or historical difference between the UK and Bulgaria, Blewett sees the world through her West-European, left-wing, politically correct, feminist glasses. There is no doubt that, in Blewett's mind, her morals are superior to those of anyone else. A common disease of the politically correct.
The inconvenient truth about children in Bulgaria's care homes is that the developments at Mogilino and many other places are part of much broader developments in Bulgaria.
Even before Bulgaria's Abandoned Children was first shot, Mogilino had already been put on the list to be closed. That process had already been started. Has the film changed this? Maybe, but no-one will ever be able to say if and by how much.
The one question that Blewett carefully avoids asking in Revisited is where all those new homes that Didi, Milen and the 75 other children from Mogilino went to, suddenly came from.
By not asking this very question, Blewett avoids having to acknowledge the efforts of thousands of professionals and volunteers, both locally and internationally, who for years have worked to de-institutionalise children in Bulgaria's care homes, and who have made a world of a difference to many more children than the 75 from Mogilino.
Part 1 of Bulgaria's Abandoned Children Revisited
Part 2 of Bulgaria's Abandoned Children Revisited
Part 3 of Bulgaria's Abandoned Children Revisited
Part 4 of Bulgaria's Abandoned Children Revisited
Part 5 of Bulgaria's Abandoned Children Revisited
Part 6 of Bulgaria's Abandoned Children Revisited