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12-1 Bulgarian Cinema - Historical Context




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This article is from the Bulgaria FAQ, by Dragomir R. Radev radev@tune.cs.columbia.edu with numerous contributions by others.

12-1 Bulgarian Cinema - Historical Context

For it is important to know not only the spatial but also the temporal
coordinates of the subject in order to project its future trajectory, at
least a simplified historical reference system should be provided. Although
films have been produced in Bulgaria since 1915, Rangel Vulchanov's "On the
Small Island" (Na malkija ostrov, 1958) may be selected as a point of
reference -- the first Bulgarian film that received international
recognition. Green Years. Ronald Holloway labels that first period of
astonishing growth as the "Green years". The Bulgarian film revival was the
age of "poetic realism" and continued until the early 70's, although it
reached its zenith in the middle 60's. The decline of that "new wave" was
predetermined by the chilling after the short "thaw" of the Khrushchev era,
and initiated by putting Binka Zhelyazkova's "The Attached Balloon"
(Privyrzanijat balon, 1967) and three other films on the shelf.
The last significant film from this period was Todor Dinov and Hristo
Hristov's "Iconostasis" (Ikonostasyt, 1969). Set in the nineteenth century
during the Bulgarian Renaissance under the Turks, the film follows the
woodcarver Rafe through the same agonies of decision that charged Andrei
Tarkovsky's film biography of a Russian icon painter, "Andrei Rublev". "An
allegory on the times, the story itself sketched in broad terms the dilemma
facing the committed film artist, whose projects have to be approved by
bureaucrats committed to the staid formula of socialist realism in the
scenario." The visually strongest moment is "when the discouraged icon-
painter enters the Bachkovo Monastery to receive inspiration from the
frescoes painted on the refectory walls back in 1606," Ronald Holloway
writes, revealing his fascination.
During this first period of the Bulgarian cinema of poetics, the first
generation of directors made their debuts and often their most important
films. Their biographies can be found in the second chapter of Holloway's
book; here, just for the record, is a list of the names of a few, arguably
the most notable ones.

 

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