August 14 2017 Meet Monika: The Filmmaker from Bulgaria Growing up in an SOS Family sparked her passion for filmmaking. Monika Ivanova is an aspiring filmmaker who grew up at an SOS Village in Bulgaria. Like every filmmaker, she wants to tell stories. In fact, she wants to tell a lot of them. “I’m planning a lot of films at the moment. I have a lot of dreams,” Monika, 22, says. Monika was always encouraged by her SOS Mother to pursue her extracurricular interests. She developed an interest in filmmaking, as a result of growing up in such a dynamic, unique family. “One of the reasons I decided to study film was that growing up in an SOS Village, there were always a lot of stories to tell around me,” Monika said. “Suddenly, a new child arrives in the village and you get to know him. There was always something happening and it was always interesting to me,” she added. Monika, 22, recently shared her story as part of a SOS Children’s Villages event in Innsbruck, Austria, which brought together alumni of SOS programs. It was at the event that Monika got inspiration for her new project: a film about the life of Hermann Gmeiner, who founded SOS in 1949. “I want to produce a film that starts with Hermann Gmeiner’s life story before he has the idea and vision to establish SOS Children’s Villages. When he’s still a student, has a social life and then suddenly things change – both good things and bad things. I think that will be interesting,” she says. For now, Monika will focus on finishing her studies and running her own photo studio in Sofia, where she works on photography projects, graphic design work and commercials. With 14 brother and sisters, her SOS family life takes up quite some time, too. “We try to all meet whenever we have something to celebrate. When we are all together [including the siblings’ own children] we always need a very big table,” says Monika. At her next family reunion, she plans to share her experience visiting Innsbruck and to share some of the stories she learned during her stay. Across Bulgaria, there are about 180 children and young adults growing up in SOS Families across three SOS Villages. In addition, there are 145 at-risk families who receive critical support that allows them to grow stronger and stay together.