What should you do when you don't know how you will feed your children tomorrow? How can you withstand social pressure and cope with endless debts? The documentary film 'Burden of Debt' tells the stories of four residents of Bulgaria who triumphed over their circumstances, offering four compelling reasons to reconsider the importance of financial literacy. The author of the idea and producer of the film, Juris Gulbis, along with screenwriter and producer Elisabeth Krez, created a documentary that is now presented at dozens of film festivals around the world. Most importantly, it has already been watched by hundreds of thousands of people.
Interview with Juris Gulbis, producer of the Areсina Independent Production Center

Your project has been entered into our festival. What is your project about?
Juris Gulbis: Our documentary is focused on financial literacy in Eastern Europe. We wanted to shed light on the importance of understanding financial principles, making informed decisions, and recognizing potential pitfalls. It's a non-commercial social initiative that aspires to empower individuals by increasing their financial awareness. Initially, we wanted to shoot an unusual advertisement in this way, but got carried away and made a full-length film.

What are your ambitions with your project? 
Juris Gulbis: Our main goal is to make financial literacy accessible and understandable to everyone, especially in regions where financial education might be lacking. If even one person watches our film and starts to think more critically about their financial decisions, we consider our mission accomplished. Ultimately, we hope that our documentary will be broadcast on Bulgarian television in 2024 and find its audience in public and educational organizations.


Tell us something about your shooting. What pleasantly surprised you?
Juris Gulbis: The entire filming process was quite enlightening, but what really surprised us was the reception — over 120,000 people have watched the film in the first weeks. Considering this is the debut film from our independent production center Arecina, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and beyond our expectations.


For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
Juris Gulbis: While our film is targeted primarily at residents of Eastern Europe, its themes are universally applicable. We focus on those who might not have easy access to financial education or those who have never been exposed to financial planning concepts.


Why should distributors buy your film?
Juris Gulbis: Distributors should consider our film because it tackles crucial issues with sensitivity and insight, not sensationalism. It's more than just a documentary; it's a tool for social change, providing practical knowledge and solutions to real-life problems.


How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
Juris Gulbis: Our work is characterized by its educational focus and its commitment to addressing pressing social issues without exploiting them. We highlight facts and possible solutions, offering a beacon of hope and support to those who might feel isolated in their struggles.


Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
Juris Gulbis: I became a producer because I believe in the power of cinema to change the world. Films have the ability to touch hearts and minds, to inspire and provoke thought, to bring light to the darkest of issues, and ultimately, to make a difference. Besides, I am happy to work with absolutely talented people. Did you know that even the music for our film was written by a real modern composer?


Who is your role model?
Juris Gulbis: My role model is anyone who stands by their principles and uses their craft to speak on behalf of those who cannot. People who have made significant social impacts inspire me daily.


Which movies are your favorites? Why?
Juris Gulbis: My favorite movies are those that combine powerful storytelling with deep social insights — films that challenge viewers to think and feel deeply about the world around them.


Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
Juris Gulbis: Inspiration often comes from real life—listening to personal stories, observing challenges people face, and understanding their needs and aspirations. Our current and upcoming projects reflect this approach.


Which topics interest you the most?
Juris Gulbis: I'm particularly drawn to topics that address social injustices—financial literacy, domestic violence, and other areas where education and awareness can lead to empowerment and change.


What do you consider most important about filming?
Juris Gulbis: The most important aspect of filming, for me, is its potential to influence and educate. It’s about crafting stories that resonate and have the power to initiate positive change. But if we are talking about the technical process itself, then, of course, the most important thing is the idea and the team of professionals. I repeat, I was lucky that this film was created with me by people who are really passionate about the process.


How would you rate your opinion about current filmmaking? And what can disappoint you in a movie?
Juris Gulbis: Filmmaking today is incredibly diverse, which is exciting. There's a lot of innovation, but also room to revisit traditional methods that have proven effective. It’s a dynamic field that keeps evolving. And lack of depth or sincerity can be disappointing. Films that miss the opportunity to genuinely connect with the audience or that fail to responsibly handle sensitive topics are particularly disheartening. Fortunately, I see that the desire of directors to shoot with talent, to show the truth, to change opinions is much stronger than the desire to get box office receipts. I believe that not all great films have been created yet. And I hope that one day I will be able to become part of the team involved in the great cinema.