I’m been mulling this one over for a while. Is there a film industry in Bulgaria? and if so are there any unique, individual visionaries working within the industry? The only name that I seem to remember is Binka Zhelyazkova. Any input would be useful.
I am preparing a Bulgarian list Tristan, so it might come in handy. Truth be told, Bulgaria (along with Albania) are one of the few talked Balkan industries and it’s a shame because from the little I’ve seen, there are MANY hidden auteurs there e.g. Metodi Andonov (Goat Horn which was later remade again in a Bulgarian film), Christo Christov ( A Tree Without Roots and his Berlin competition Cyclops), Vulo Radev (the amazing Peach Thief), I wish I could watch films of Zhelyazkova now that you mention her since she was the first woman who was engulfed to the world of Bulgarian cinema. Item One by Boyan Danovski is another one I’m seeking out. Plus, Bulgaria wasn’t as plagued as the rest of the Balkans, from Romania to Greece, so maybe it’s the ignorance of publishing companies that’s enhancing this obscurity for this cinematography. That and it’s possible that many themes around Balkan-based films are usually about topical, specific situations and not particularly popular references like the drama, satire or meditation of other countries / directors. I cannot explain it otherwise.
Great entrance for a new thread, I was thinking of compiling a list of neglected cinema countries / threads. It’s such a pity that not even widely available torrents exist for Bulgarian films and only luck encounters! There is however a Bulgarian animation in SurrealMoviez, talking about new films to check!
I’ve long wanted to see Zheliazkova’s The Attached Balloon, (have just seen a short clip), along with so many other films from Bulgaria that are unavailable; the neglect is astonishing. I’m really looking forward to Dimitris’ list. I’ve got a useful book on Eastern European Cinema, and David Cook’s History of Narrative Film is excellent, but it’s a subject i’d love to get to know properly. The Peach Thief and Goat Horn may be the most famous classics as mentioned by Dimitris. I’d like to see The Unknown Soldier’s Patent Leather Shoes (Vulchanov). I did book a holiday to Bulgaria, it’s long interested me, but it was cancelled for some reason and we ended up going to Turkey instead
I saw “The Glass River” (2010) by Stanimir Trifonov this year. It was sort of a Bulgarian “DaVinci Code”. Not so interesting in terms of form and content, but interesting just to see what’s going on in contemporary Bulgarian cinema.
I know next to nothing about Bulgarian cinema. So, am eagerly looking forward to Dimitris’ list and all your recommendations. Thanks to Dim and Kenji I’ve already got quite a few on my watchlist. Keep them coming!
i really want to see christo christov and todor dinov’s icon stand!
kenji, got a link for the attached balloon link? i’d so love to see even a little bit….
anyone mind if i just post a few links so that when i’m looking for them in future i know where to come?
Binka Zhelyazkovabulgarian cinemanew bulgarian cinemanew bulgarian cinema
i want to know more about this so-called poetic cinema that encompassed bulgaria and georgia and parajanov etc…looks like i’ll have to buy ron holloway’s book.
oh I am quite interested by this my housemate is half Bulgarian and when she goes to Bulgaria she always brings me back a few dvds so I have built up a little collection, which will hopefully keep growing! None of them have subs but I get her to translate as the film proceeds.
My first film i saw is Letter To America by Iglika Tiffonova, 2001. Ivan’s best friend, Kamen, is dying in an American hospital. Since he’s denied a visa to the USA and can’t stay by his side in his last moments, he decides to set off for Bulgaria countryside, taking the camera Kamen has given him. After some time, he writes her a very special letter, telling all about the places and characters he meets on his way, witnesses to a time which is bound to be forgotten. Whilst by no means a a masterpiece the film is an interesting study of death and spirituality.
The wonderful The Unknown Soldier’s Patent Leather Shoes is my favourite Bulgarian film and reminds me of some of those other great Eastern Europe directors such as Jancso and Illyenko. For no apparent reason, while looking, in his mind he gets back to his childhood in the little Bulgarian village, he grew up in. Different rites, different traditions and still he finds something in common. He recalls the people he knew, he feared or admired. He ponders over that life of no brilliance, where people plough, harvest, marry and die, celebrate or grieve. Miracle are also worked, conceived in a unlimited child’s imagination.
Ikonostaset by Christo Christov is another amazing film. In late 19th century, a carver-cutter arrives in a little town to make the iconostasis of the newly built church. He is being accommodated in the house of a respected family. He is working slowly because of his love for the daughter of his hosts. The film reminded me very much of Tarkovsky and some of the black and white images are a site to behold.
I am planning to see I have the Peach Thief,Vulo Radev, the Goat’s Horn ,Metodi Andonov, King For A Day, Nikolai Volev. Those films are all available on smz
I have also just recieved three Bulgarian films. Two by Eduard Sachariev, The Hare Census, 1975, and Villa Zone, 1973. Both films look really interesting. Both films are social satires and were highly praised at the time but have slipped into obscurity.The other film is Kombina, 1982 by Nikola Rudarov an atmospheric thriller set in the world of crime and drugs trafficking.
The Peach Thief is a masterpiece, it has some fine gliding or swift camerawork, a la Kalatozov, but always in the service of its intimate story, really if this was from a rich and powerful country it would be a firm part of the international canon. It has some similarities with La Grande Illusion, but very much its own stamp on love, marriage, war, militarism, class, trans-national friendship and i like how the (changeable) weather sometimes reflects the mood.
in this clip we have just a short glimpse of the Attached Balloon
oh i’d love to see Hare Census, and Iconostasis
CANARIES AND BIRDS OF PRAY: THE NEW SEASON OF BULGARIAN CINEMA
Dimitar Petkov’s Opashkata na diavola
Allegorical Expressionism:The most talented
directors of the first generation — Rangel Vulchanov, Binka Zhelyazkova,Hristo Ganev and Hristo Piskov — partially influenced by la politique des
auteurs, partially trying to create their own way of expression not easily
susceptible to censorship, defined with their early works a “cinema of
poetics”, a poetic realism which was compared with Italian neo-realism,
with the Polish School of Andrzej Wajda and Andrzej Munk, and with the
Hungarian films of Zoltan Fabri. The milestones of that Bulgarian School
were: On the Small Island (1958), We Were Young (1961), Sun and Shadow
(1962), The Peach Thief (1964), The Attached Balloon (1967) and Iconostasis
(1969). Later on, in the seventies, in the age of political cynicism and
disillusionment, the language of the Bulgarian cinema of poetics
deteriorated from its lyrical stance to much a more allegorical and ironic
one. The philosophic and moral parables, political allegories and bitter
satires proved to be the most durable genre in the last two decades. The
Hare Census (1973), Cricket in the Ear (1976), Cyclops (1976), The Swimming
Pool (1977), Panteley (1978), With Love and Tenderness (1978), The Roof
(1978), Short Sun (1979), Barrier (1979), Illusion (1980), The Big Night
Bathe (1980), White Magic (1982), Last Wishes (1983), Where Are You Going?
(1986), Exitus (1989) and Thou Which Art in Heaven (1990) are just a few
examples of this steady trend, while some of the most acclaimed works of
the seventies — The Advantage (1977) and The Unknown Soldier’s Patent
Leather Shoes (1979) — were late bloomers of the classical poetic realism
from the first period
so, i want to see all of these…..
I have a book called INTERNATIONAL FILM PRIZES: AN ENCYCLEPEDIA where it list films Golden Rose awards as well as the Bulgarian Film Critics jury for national film in a given year. Need List?
well kevin, if you can spare the time…
also,anyone know why i can’t get this to go beyond 6 mins?
Wow, this is a handful. Thanks everyone! I can’t wait for your list Dimitris – definitely belongs to the neglected cinema countries list.
Greatest films by the Union of Bulgarian Film Makers in connection with the 100 anniversary of cinema (1994):
1. Kozijat rog (1972, Metodi Andonov)
2. Kradetzat na praskovi (1964, Vulo Radev)
3. Avantazh (1977, Georgi Djugerov)
4. Na malkiya ostrov (1958, Rangel Vulchanov)
5. Mera spored mera (1981, Georgi Djulgerov)
6. Lachenite obuvki na neznayniya voin (1979, Rangel Vulchanov)
7. Privarzaniyat balon (1967, Binka Zhelyazkova)
8. Posledno lyato (1974, Christo Christov)
9. Prebroyavane na divite zaytzi (1973, Eduard Sachariev)
10. Byalata staya (1968, Metodi Andonov)
11. Ritzar bez bronya (1966, Borislav Sharaliev)
12. Tyutyun (1962, Nikola Korabov)
I only know three of them and without a doubt #1 and #2 are true classics.
Need to catch up on Christov as I said and Korabov for what it’s worth, I think we have a few Bulgarian films in the database besides the often-mentioned ones, kudos to anyone who added them. Thanks Angel for informing us on that list.
Still, yet again…a list of 10 films and only from another lesser-known country. Has it become a fashion that only popular lands like Italy, U.S.A. and other “Goliaths” should be allowed to list a top 100 list of their films (and most of the time, not all films remain the same) or the neglected nations don’t regard their cinema as worthy as the “biggies”?
You’re right, something that everyone should learn is Hollywood/AFI’s ability for self-promotion.
The problem some which people might have with Bulgarian cinema is that sometimes parts of films are related to a context – whether political or cultural. However, there certainly are some great films coming from my small country.
The Peach Thief is one of the first films I ever saw – in a cinema in Sofia that is still open and shows some great films from time to time. I should watch it again, thanks for reminding me.
Tyutyun (Tobacco) is another of my favorites, the book is great as well. Nevena Kokanova is magnificent in it.
As of films from recent years – off the top of my head I can recommend Eastern Plays by Kamen Kalev and the films of Andrey Paounov – Georgi And The Butterflies and The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories.
It is hard to find Bulgarian films, especially with English subtitles – but send me a message to let me know what you are looking for and I will try to help.
I created a short yet developing Bulgarian Cinema list, I hope it attracts more attention since recent threads here have been a fucking academic / hipster monopoly.
I saw Zift (2008) Director is Javor Gardev. One of my favorites of this year, Great Noir
Fucking academics. How dare they associate themselves with ideas like “education” and “intelligence”.
^ Spare your pseudo-criticism Wise and learn what cinema is.
I’d like to learn, but I’m afraid that would be a pseudo-academic activity, and you wouldn’t be pleased. So I guess I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.
In the past 5-6 years there is a resurgence of publishing “old” films to DVD in Bulgaria and many people have grown extensive digital collections. My own is around 20 and growing. One Bulgarian torrent site that used to have films is www.zamunda.net, but I am not sure if it can be accessed from outside Bulgaria. Another choice is to check vbox7.com for short clips.
During my last visit, I picked the following DVDs
Momcheto si Otiva – 1972 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0267756/
Dami Kaniat – 1980 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169731/
Lavina – 1982 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0277793/
Vchera – 1988 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0170783/
The Goat Horn – 1972 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068814/
Osadeni Dushi – 1975 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0169731/
Avantaj – 1977 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077190/
I also picked the now hugely popular Eastern Plays – 2009 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1426361/
Other films on the top of my mind are: The World is Big and Salvations Lurks Around the Corner – 2008 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1178197/ Mila from Mars 2004 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0416032/ by the popular young director – Zornitsa Sophia.
Last but not least this came out in April : Mission London 2010 – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1127702/ directed by Dimitar Mitovski, who does most of the ads on TV. Some years back be became popular with this short: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-NV4mO65w8
p.s. A list from wiki for the ones with time to spend:
Bulgarian National Film Archive has a wide selection of stills from most of the 20th century Bulgarian cinema.
p.s. The site as an English version
Does anybody know if the collection of “Golden Bulgarian Films” comes with english subtitles? Thanks.
No to my knowledge. I have 10-20 titles from it and they don’t have subtitles. I only have Mission London 2010, and Mila from Mars 2004 with English subtitles, a rare exception.
p.s. Current film festival entries such as Tilt 2011, and Ave 2011 have subtitles!
Thank you, Alex. Do you know where (online) to buy a “Козият рог”?
Well, I just found it on google video – http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6158942232462202330 (original, they also have 1994 version in HD)
Other than that, I don’t see any online retailers. I have the version from Golden Bulgarian Films that I can transfer to DVD and send anywhere within continental U.S. through USPS.
I’d love to own The Goat Horn on DVD too (wouldn’t want to buy a burnt copy); it’s one of my personal favourites.