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12-1 Bulgarian Cinema - Randomness.


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 - Randomness.

The last essential characteristic of Bulgarian cinema I
would like to state is the extreme difficulty one can face trying to pin
down the essential characteristics of Bulgarian cinema; and it is not a pun
or a joke. "A glance at its development shows a certain degree of
randomness and heterogeneousness," write Liehm and Liehm. This
heterogeneousness and lack of well defined thematic continuity is
determined again by the specific historical and cultural realities of the
Bulgarian film industry. First, for such a small country, it is a very
expensive and comparatively new art medium, which in its three fruitful
decades was in a position of underdog on the international arena, and even
on the home scene, competing with the traditionally very strong theatrical,
literary and musical forms for its own cultural niche. It appears that the
Bulgarian film artist, so overwhelmed with catching up with foreign vogues
and trends, genre and personal achievements, and with rapidly changing home
cultural, social and ideological needs, has simply not had enough time to
develop his or her own distinguished style, constant thematic pattern or
school of followers. Second, despite the high professionalism of the
Bulgarian film artists, it is not an industry in terms of Hollywood film
production line with its stiff regulations, staunch hierarchical structure
and narrow specialization, but rather a national cultural institution. The
best Bulgarian filmmakers are rather Renaissance figures with a broad range
of cultural interests and professional abilities, so that significant
fluctuations of talents in the film guild used to be and still are typical.
Here are just few examples, starting from the first generation: Bulgaria's
pre-eminent director Rangel Vulchanov started as an actor, established the
Bulgarian cinema of poetics with his directorial debut, experimented with
various genres from the avant-garde through film noir to the musical,
worked abroad, at one point gave up feature filmmaking to work on
documentaries, then came back and still is one of the most controversial
figures in the field; Valery Petrov, trained as a physician, recognized as
a major national poet, acclaimed as a translator of Shakespeare into
Bulgarian, who gave to the Bulgarian "new wave" the most important scripts,
worked also in the theater, then came back making distinguished
contributions to children's films.
>From the second generation: Georgi Djulgerov, one of the most
internationally acclaimed Bulgarian directors, after his magnum opus
"Measure for Measure", gave up film production to work in the theater, then
made several documentaries and a musical to return finally to feature
filmmaking in the beginning of the 90's; Russi Chanev who made Djulgerov's
best films possible, both acting and collaborating as a script-writer; Ivan
Andonov, a prolific and very active director, who started his carrier as a
popular film and stage actor, also made notable and prize-winning animated
films in the 60's; Edward Zahariev who was equally successful in his
documentaries and feature films.
From the third generation: Nikolai Volev, a popular national film
director, who is best known abroad because of his documentary masterpiece
"House No 8"; Henri Koulev, arguably the most talented and controversial
author of animated films and cartoons for adults, who made several jazz
documentaries, contributed with two avant-garde features "Death of the
Hare" and "The Father of the Egg"; Radoslav Spassov, who grew up to his
script-writing and directorial debut after two decades as a cameraman; and
Krassimir Kroumov, the most promising new auteur, who comes in the film
industry as a dramatist, novelist and writer with theoretical


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