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Why the ‘last of the Bulgarians’ are all optimists

Stephan Komandarev's latest film started as a joke. "I was in a taxi talking to the driver when he asked me, 'Do you know why Bulgaria is the Land of Optimists?'" said Komandarev, who still laughs at the idea. "It's the Land of Optimists because all the pessimists and the realists have already left," the driver told him. That bitter joke set the film-maker, the first Bulgarian ever to be shortlisted for the Oscars, thinking. The Balkan country has lost a fifth or more of its population since the fall of Communism despite…