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Think Freedom: Freedom is an Action

The documentary portrait "Think Freedom: Freedom is an Action" tells the story of Denitsa Lyubenova, a lawyer, human rights defender and LGBTI activist from Bulgaria. It shows the process behind the scenes and the emotional journey of one of the most prominent legal battles of the LGBT organization ‘Deystvie’ - Baby Sara.

More than 3 and a half years old, Baby Sara from a family of two mothers continues to be nobody's citizen. She can't enroll in kindergarten, nursery, or school. To the law, the child is invisible. It is completely absurd. In Europe, more than 100,000 children are born to same-sex couples every year. Although the LGBT organization ‘Deystvie’ won a case at the European Court of Justice and set a precedent in the European law for children with same-sex parents, Bulgaria unfortunately blatantly ignored the European ruling. The new legal battles ahead of the family could take between 5 and 10 years. 

The film depicts the palette of emotions of Denitsa during the case as a lawyer, activist and human being. What motivates Denitsa in her work is her relentless commitment to root out injustice from the ground up. For her, freedom is an action. 


Watch the film. Find out more about the case and sign the Baby Sara petition. Support ‘Deystvie’ in the fight for full legal recognition and social inclusion of LGBTI people in society. 

About the Film 

In one year, the documentary portrait was screened at 8 film festivals in Europe and at several special screenings such as the ILGA conference in Bulgaria; conference for human rights lawyers and gathering of LGBT volunteers in Berlin, Germany.  We are delighted that Think Freedom was awarded "Best LGBTI Short Film" at the Berlin Short Film Festival 2023. The premiere of the film at the Sofia Pride Film Fest gathered over 100 people in 2022, and much more in the 2023 edition.       

The documentary portrait is part of the "Think Freedom" series of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF). The heroes of the series are ambassadors of core liberal values - freedom, choice and responsibility. The overarching theme is the main characters‘self-determination to pursue freedom by overcoming challenges in the shrinking spaces of their democracies. Watch more inspiring stories of FNF partners from East and Southeast Europe here

FNF is a liberal political foundation from Germany, which strives to be the creative and innovation platform for the promotion of freedom in societies. FNF and their partners have been committed to freedom and liberal values in over 60 countries for more than 65 years. FNF’s agenda encompasses the social market economy and global prosperity, liberal democracy and open society, education and equal opportunities, innovative energy and climate policy, global collaboration, human rights and international responsibility, as well as digital transformation and communicative sovereignty. Through political and civic education, dialogue programmes, sponsorship of the talented, research, policy advice, political consultation and archive-work, FNF contributes to shaping the future in a liberal way.

The film is directed by Anna Stoeva, a documentary artist, producer and filmmaker. She has worked on a number of international documentary features, including The Last Black Sea Pirates (HotDocs 2013, FIPRESCI Award Krakow 2013), Dad Made Dirty Movies (premiere at Visions du Reel 2011) and Paradise Hotel (HBO Bulgaria Original Programming). She is the producer of the short films Red Light and Getting Fat In A Healthy Way, which have gathered 45 international awards and have traveled over 100 festivals to date, and the co-creator and head writer of the German mystery horror series HAUSEN (Sky Deutschland 2020). In the last 10 years with her production company tanuki films she has worked on a number of documentary and online projects, finding the intersection between documentary art and social causes with meaning.

Tanuki films is an award-winning boutique production team focused on documentary filmmaking, journalism and interactive storytelling. ‘Think Freedom’ series is a successful creative collaboration between Tanuki and FNF. Since their founding in 2011, tanuki have created and worked on a number of documentary campaigns, investigative journalism segments, advertising and film projects. Tanuki work with a team of visual storytellers with a wealth of experience and a passion for cinema, which they transform to serve the social and brand stories they tell. After winning the 2015 Open Data Expo Hackathon, their latest passion is data journalism and particularly stories that combine data visualization with documentary storytelling. 


‘Think Freedom: Freedom is an Action’, 20.19 min, 2022

Film of:                                      Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Regional Office for East and Southeast Europe

Directed by:                               Anna Stoeva

Director of Photography:         Ivan Nikolov 

Produced by:                             tanuki films, Anna Stoeva § David Djambazov


About The Case     

In March 2023, the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria issued a final decision on the case, rejecting baby Sara's claim and refusing to issue her a birth certificate on the sole argument that she is not a Bulgarian citizen, thus contradicting the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (Grand Chamber) C-490/20.

With its decision, the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria violated EU law and therefore we at Deystvie signalled the European Commission to open a criminal procedure for the violation of EU law. Simultaneously with this action, we filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights that the Bulgarian authorities violated the European Convention on Human Rights with their acts.

Follow the latest on the Baby Sara case here.

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