A Brush Soaked in Carmine (2016): Death and Controversy (Review)

 absic15

In 2007 Bulgarian iconographer Jordan Opitz shot and killed a drug addict whom he believed burgled his home. The young addict also ran towards the artist wielding a screwdriver. Jordan used a modified gas pistol to shoot the young man who ran off and died later.

Opitz received a five year prison  sentence and was sued by the young man’s family for compensation. The crime and the trial divided  the country.  The incident took place in Sofia, Bulgaria; a city rife with drug addicts and burglaries to fund their habits. Opitz had been robbed before.

Director Teodor Todorov and producer Robin Chambers went to Bulgaria to interview Opitz, the lawyer who successfully won the compensation verdict, a journalist who knew Jordan, Elijah Tsotsin (a Bulgarian actor) and another addict who was with the murdered man the day he was shot.

A Brush Soaked in Carmine looks at both sides of the case and allows the various parties involved to state their beliefs. It is a story not too dissimilar to farmer Tony Martin from  Norfolk, in the United Kingdom who shot and killed a burglar in his home.  In 1999, Martin had been burgled several times and, having had enough, shot at the two intruders with a shotgun.

Martin also received a reduced sentence and the surviving burglar also attempted to sue for compensation.The case also divided the country, and to a degree, still does.  The main differences in the two cases has to do with the weapon used and the fact that Opitz shot his suspected burglar after he left his apartment.

absic04
Jordan Opitz

Todorov takes the time to speak in depth with each person who was involved with the case to varying degrees.   We are able to see some of Opitz’ work and how the ruling that enforced his paying compensation has taken everything from him.

Amazingly, the one thing that one takes away from this hourlong documentary is that the legal system seems to believe that Opitz modifying the gas pistol was a form of premeditation.  The lawyer;  Marin Markovski,  obviously used a combination of religion and the law to win his case for compensation. 

The interviews show why the case is still so contentious nine years after the fact.  No one, least of all Opitz,  portrays the artist as a saint. The iconographer is blind in one eye and perhaps a bit too assertive but he is clearly not a murderer.

In many ways it does seem that the Bulgarian government, like Britain’s powers that be, prefer its citizenry not to defend themselves. This is a fascinating look at a crime that really was more a case of self defense rather than murder. It is also reveals a system that would rather pay for drug addicts via compensation rather than treat them as criminals when they steal.

People living in America may find it hard to fathom how a man using a modified gas pistol was not only jailed for five years for defending himself but lost a lot of money to the victim. An underlying message seems to be that the legal system allows religion to be a factor in not only trying the crime but in sentencing the guilty party.

Shot on a shoestring budget, Todorov and Chambers do a brilliant job presenting all sides of this ongoing argument. It is a marvelous insight into a finite amount of Bulgarian denizens. At the end it really answers no questions but it does make the viewer think about the verdict. It also points out the social issues: crime ridden neighborhoods and a large population of younger people on drugs plus a fed up populace.

A Brush soaked in Carmine is a brilliant effort from Todorov and  everything fits together nicely. Editor Diana Pavlova slots everything together perfectly, from the re-creations to the interviews of all the men. Each side is given a voice; from the drug addict who lost his mate to the lawyer who made sure Opitz paid dearly for taking a life.

ABSICPOSTERFINAL

Lust, Money & Murder by Mike Wells

Unknown

I was introduced to this book by the author Mike Wells via Twitter. After presenting me with a link to a free reading of his first of a new series, I eagerly jumped at the chance to meet a new author and his work.

I was not disappointed.

The book’s prologue sets the pace of the entire story. We are privy to the machinations of a suave older man who appears to like younger women and the finer things of life. He also likes counterfeit money and after he uses his young female pigeon to pass the fake money on, he removes her. Permanently.

We then meet the books protagonist Elaine Brogan, as her name implies, she’s of Irish lineage and her doting father does everything in his power to provide for her and her mother. This includes some things that are not “above-board.” When she goes off to a private school her father Patrick pays the schools exorbitant fees. He also works hard at the school to ensure that Elaine is accepted.

When Elaine graduates, she meets someone who entices her to join a modelling agency. It’s a scam and it costs her more money than she can afford. After storming into the agency’s office and demanding her money back, she gets paid in counterfeit bills. When Patrick goes to deposit the money, he is accused and sentenced for passing “funny” money.

Elaine swears that what ever it takes she will avenge her father and ultimately she joins the Secret Service with this goal in mind. While training to become an agent she focusses on the man who caused her father to be imprisoned.

I liked Elaine and her “single-minded” goals. She comes across as an overachiever but one that is personable and real. This first book in the series introduces the reader to an immediate back story and sets the stage for further tales of Elaine in her counterfeiting world. Wells has a knack for making his characters feel real; including the naughty boy Secret Service agent, Nick LaGrange, that Elaine falls for in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is charismatic and personable; it’s easy to see why Elaine falls so hard.

The book moves at a cracking pace and does not lag at any point. I was able to read it in a single sitting and enjoyed every minute. I’m looking forward to reading more of Mr Wells’ work.

A real 5 stars out of 5 for action and pace.

Author Mike Wells.
Author Mike Wells.