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Subject: soc.culture.bulgaria FAQ (monthly posting) (part 6/10)
This article was archived around: 23 Jun 2001 04:01:11 -0400
Last-Modified: July 17, 2000
CHAPTER 12: ART AND CULTURE
12-1 Bulgarian Cinema
(by Val Todorov)
THE BULGARIAN CINEMA - CONSTANTS AND VARIABLES
Copyright (c) 1993 by Val Todorov, all rights
reserved. This text may be freely shared among
individuals, but it may not be republished in any
medium without express written consent from the author.
"The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
This Mark Twain quotation, which in the given context refers to the new
Bulgarian cinema as a whole, opens a review on one of the most recent films
released in the country. It is symptomatic that the movie is a debut. It is
also symptomatic that this is a debut by a professional with more than 20
years experience in the industry. "Shrove Sunday" (Sirna nedelja) is
written and directed by Radoslav Spassov, a veteran in the cameramen's
guild. However, before examining particular trees in the changing film
flora of the new political, cultural and economic climate, let's throw a
quick glance at the whole wood.
Rumors of the death of the Bulgarian cinema, although exaggerated, are not
groundless at all. After the fall of the socialist rule in November 1989
and the first free elections in June 1990, not only was Georgi Dimitrov's
mummy taken out of his Stalinist Mausoleum and burned to ashes, but the
whole film industry -- with its totalitarian structure based exclusively on
the state support and control -- virtually collapsed. It did not happen in
a day. The process was long and painful, as if in slow motion, and its last
shot of total distraction was taken somewhere in the beginning of 1992,
although other chain-reactions of disintegration still linger on. After the
clouds of dust settled, the aftermath was found to be a rather mournful and
Ten years ago Ronald Holloway in his book "The Bulgarian Cinema"
wrote: "The Boyana Studios at the foot of Mount Vitosha turn out a feature
film a week for cinemas or television. The annual breakdown is about equal:
twenty-five for movie screens and the same for the TV tube. This is in
addition to another twenty-five animated films, and over two hundred shorts
Now: In the last year only five feature films were released. In total, the
films produced in 1992 are 12.8 times less than in 1987.
Ten years ago: "There are approximately thirty-six hundred cinemas in
Now: There are 319 cinemas in the country. Over the last five years,
the number of the cinemas has decreased 8.6 times, which is particularly
tragic in the villages and small towns where the decrease is up to 29 times.
Even in the capital Sofia only 18 cinemas remain open.
Ten years ago: "Each moviegoer is reckoned to attend the movies on an
average of ten to thirteen times a year."
Now: For the last five years, the attendance has been reduced 4.2 times --
each moviegoer attended an average of nine movies in 1987, and only two in
Ten years ago: "A sprawling complex, the Boyana Studios are referred to as
"film city" by the local population. Nearly all of the technical facilities
are housed under one roof, the staff including over nine thousand qualified
Now: "In the transitional period the staff has been reduced to 250 compared
with the 1,500 who were formerly employed," says Mikhail Kirkov. "The
result of our financial reconstruction, from a government institution to a
private company, is still unknown."
Ten years ago: "When one considers that as late as 1953 only one feature
film was produced a year, the growth of the Bulgarian film industry is
astonishing, to say the least." Especially, keeping in mind that this is a
country smaller than Pennsylvania with a population less than nine
Now: When one considers that as recent as 1988 seventy-two full-length
films (20 features, 26 for TV and 26 documentaries), fifty-seven animated
and more than four hundred other shorts were produced, the collapse of the
Bulgarian film industry is astonishing, to say the least. When I was trying
to do a research for this paper, the answer to my question, what was the
current situation of the Bulgarian cinema, more often than not was, "What
Bulgarian cinema?" This answer was given by ordinary moviegoers, film buffs
and even some professionals. Total apathy and disinterested pessimism to
the subject abounded. The first and probably the largest video distributor
on the country, ironically called "Bulgarian Video", does not hold any
Bulgarian title produced since the fall of the socialist rule. It is
practically impossible to find a video copy of any recent Bulgarian film.
Although in 1992 one hundred fifty-nine new films opened in the cinemas
around the country, and five of them were Bulgarian (compared with 99 films
from the USA and 53 from Europe), it seemed that most of the people did not
notice them. Paradoxically, it seemed that most of the people, consciously
or not, accepted the notion that the Bulgarian cinema was some kind of
by-product of the socialist cultural practice, which therefore naturally
disappeared with this ideology for good.
In such circumstances, the question about the mere existence of the subject
of this paper is absolutely legitimate. What then was the moderate optimism
of the critic quoting Mark Twain based on? If one could answer in only
three letters, the answer would be NFC. The National Film Center was
founded on June 6, 1991, but it gathered momentum in the first half of 1992
when the National Commissions started their work. "Cinema was the first
part of Bulgarian culture to adjust to the new market economy, so obviously
we confronted some big problems," says Dimiter Dereliev, the managing
director of the Center. "From a state monopoly we had to create a private
business, and to support both production and distribution. Before the
political changes there were no independent producers, so we had to
initiate a whole profession -- people who were willing to take personal
initiatives, as well as responsibilities. At the same time we wanted to
establish a subsidy system where the NFC, unlike the Organization of
Bulgarian Cinematography, should not make the decisions about where to
place production money." On the highly politicized landscape of the
Bulgarian society, it was predictable that the question of power would be
crucial to the structures and modus operandi of the new Film Center. In a
way, the architects of the new legislation, which made the Center possible,
mimicked the metastructures of the state power and its separation --
legislative body, executive authority and judiciary control. The panic fear
of eventual recurrence of any totalitarian forms of monopoly or centralized
control put the emphasis on the separation of powers in the Center
itself. "The most important thing that had and have to be done is
separating the powers and imposing the free market principles," says Georgi
Cholakov from the NFC. The power differentiation has been achieved by
founding the National Commissions for feature movies, documentaries and
animated films. They play the role of legislative bodies of the national
film production, determining which of the film projects will receive state
subsidy, and the amount. Each commission for allocation of state subsidy
includes nine members who are elected by the Union of the Bulgarian
Filmmakers, the Ministry of Culture, the Producers' Association, the
Distributors' Association and the Ministry of the Finances.
The National Film Center itself plays the role of an executive body: it
contracts with the producers of the projects, chosen by the commissions,
and secures every particular funding. Usually, the Center provides half of
the budget of the approved production, which might sound like a generous
percentage, but bear in mind that even a national hit can not cover more
than 10% of its production and distribution costs. This is also the main
reason why the founders of the Center based their concept on the French
model of partial state subsidy rather than on the principles of total free
market regulations. No national film industry in Europe could survive even
a year without some financial state support. And this is even more true for
such a small country as Bulgaria.
Finally, the Minister of Culture, who controls the activities of the NFC
and the commissions, plays the role of a supervising body in the system of
film funding, producing and distributing. In such a way, the separation of
power is secured, at least on paper, and the threatening phantom of a near
totalitarian past has been exorcised out of the Bulgarian film industry. At
least the enthusiasts who stand behind the NFC believe this is so. However,
the more important questions remain: Does the new system really work?
What are its achievements until now? What are its new projects? Are there
any alternatives to it?
Yes, there were, and there are, attempts for film productions outside of
the Center's aegis. For example, Sergei Komitski's "A Bullet for Paradise"
(Kurshum za raja), produced by the director's brother, opened on May 1,
1992. It was the first independent film after a forty-five year wide hiatus
in the private producers' business, and was entirely funded with Roumen
Komitski's own investments.
The story of a young shepherd, who accidentally becomes involved in
the struggle for national liberation at the turn of the century, does not
limit itself to the popular formulas of the "Eastern", but also tries to
analyze the mechanisms of the power and to revise some ethnopsychological
myths of the region. Although the movie received favorable critical reviews
and relatively positive viewers' response, it turned out to be a financial
disaster for its producer. The reason was stated above: it is virtually
impossible to cover the production costs only from the national
Another example is "The Alchemist's Dream" (Mechtata na alhimika) by
Rangel Vulchanov who did refuse state subsidy from the Center and turned
the project into an entirely French production. In fact, the system of
European co-productions, with more or less foreign money involved, is the
only reasonable alternative to the NFC system of support. Although the
Center contributed to the production of eight new features with public
money last year, it is more than willing to encourage international funds
for Bulgarian projects. As a result, at least three recent movies are
Considering the fact that its own budget is very limited, the Center worked
hard and managed to make Bulgaria the third East European member of
Eurimages after Poland and Hungary. Eurimages is an all-European fund that
financially supports co-productions between its members. In the first three
years of its existence, the Fund supported one hundred and one European
co-productions, providing 12% of their funding. "A very important part of
our job is to secure Bulgaria a role in the international film society,"
says Dereliev. "Now we also hope to get access to the MEDIA program." MEDIA
is a financial program of the European Community and its goal is encoded in
the abbreviation itself: Measures to Encourage the Development of the
Industry of Audiovisual Production. A year ago, the EC experts counted
Bulgaria as a surprising sleeper where the processes of restructuring of
the film industry were running at a faster pace compared with the other
East European countries.
The National Film Center tries to support not only the ninety-three new
private producers as an undoubted demiurge of their current occupation, but
to assist the Boyana Studios in its painful transformation and reconstruction,
as well. For now, it seems that the only way for the Balkans' largest studio
complex to escape extinction is to set up joint ventures with foreign
companies. And indeed, last year no fewer than eleven foreign companies
commissioned the Boyana to produce bigger or smaller parts of their new
films. Primary European productions were sent to Bulgaria, but the
American doyen of B-movies, Roger Corman, said in 1990 that he would
consider shooting all of his films in Bulgaria. His first two movies shot
in the country were "Death Stalker IV" and "Queen of the Barbarians III".
"The average budget for a film in Bulgaria is five to six million levs
(currently, $1=28 levs), but with official salaries as low as twelve hundred
levs per month, it can cover a lot of labor. Most important, though, is that
we deliver work of a quality that matches international standards. This is
confirmed by the foreign directors, such as Steven Spielberg, who have shot
here or sent for, say, Bulgarian animators." To these words of Mikhail
Kirkov, chief of Cadence Animation, which is part of the Boyana Studios, I
may add only that the actual salaries of film professionals are rather
several times higher.
. New Releases
Last year 26 million levs of state subsidy was contributed by the NCF,
while this year approximately 50 million levs of government money will be
allocated for production. Last year, with only five films released, was the
transitional year for the national film industry. First there were Ivan
Balevski's "Palpitation" (Aritmija) and Georgi Popvassilev's "Bad Boy"
(Losho momche), two debuts and probably the last films produced within the
old structures, followed by the totally independent "Bullet for Paradise",
mentioned above. Then the first premiere nursed by the Center came on
September 21, 1992, and it was "Vampires and Spooks" (Vampiri, talasymi) by
Ivan Andonov -- a veteran director, actor and animator, whose previous
films are famous for their record box-office takings. In his last work, the
director strives once again to respond to the popular demands and the mores
of the day, like he did many times before with his "Dreamers" (Mechtateli,
1986), a period piece about the founders of the Bulgarian Socialist Party
at the turn of the century; "Yesterday" (Vchera, 1987), a nostalgic trip
with an angry young man and his conformist fellows in the heat of the
Beatle-mania; and "Adios Rio" (Adio Rio, 1989), a bitter satire on the new
middle-class and its moral decay in the age of perestroika. Now Ivan
Andonov sends us back to 1945 in a small town where the communists have
already seized the power and start establishing the "new order". That time
of chaos turns into a grotesque carnival of tragedy and slapstick, terror
and folly, desperate souls and ghosts from the past, searching the answer
of one and the same question: "When will the communists be gone?" The film,
which is about a faded actress who tries to survive by all possible means
including a faked photograph of her with... Georgi Dimitrov's dog in order
to pass for a communist activist, explores the moral dilemmas of dignity
and betrayal, the twisted relationship between artist and power.
The next two projects supported financially by the NFC were Peter
Popzlatev's second effort "Something in the Air" (Neshto vyv vyzduha), a
co-production with Arion Production, France, and Radoslav Spassov's "Shrove
Sunday, a Day of Forgiveness" (Sirna nedelja), which opened on February 26,
1993. The theme of the film is explicated in its title -- do we have the
right of absolution after all? And the sin to be forgiven is the same one
as in "Vampires and Spooks" -- the sin of compromise.
The story of Angel, a typical man of circumstances, ragamuffin and
conformist, gambler and coward, dreamer and pragmatist, is set in the 50s,
during the Personality Cult. The protagonist is constantly torn between
good intentions and inevitable betrayals. The film is designed to point out
and explore all the political taboos of the period -- the forcible
nationalization, the youth-brigade movement, the Secret services, the
gulags -- but the critic Karin Yanakieva suggests the film is in danger of
falling victim to its own urge to deliver answers, as these answers verge
on being predictable. In his directorial debut, Radoslav Spassov appears to
be mostly influenced by Georgi Djulgerov -- a master of the Bulgarian
cinema he worked for as a director of photography for more than twenty
The next films to be released this year are Ilian Simeonov's and Hristian
Nochev's "Frontier" (Granica), Rumyana Petkova's "Burn, Burn Little Fire"
(Gori, gori ogynche) and Rangel Vulchanov's "The Alchemist's Dream"
(Mechtata na alhimika). The first two probe in the same painful problems of
the near past -- guilt, compromise, betrayed ideals. "Frontier" depicts
life in a distant frontier post, so close to the barbered-wire fences on
the border, too far away from the freedom of choice; life that is valued
and measured in days on furlough. A film about a lost generation and their
burnt out romantic ideals is the last work of Rumyana Petkova, a prominent
feminist director. "Burn, Burn Little Fire" takes place in a small Muslim
town in the Rhodope Mountains in the 60's. It feels as if the town is sealed
up, so in the carbon dioxide of hatred and prejudice men can hardly breathe
and little flames of hope are almost choked out.
On the other hand, Rangel Vulchanov, the Bulgarian Federico Fellini, in
another French production delivers a new tale in his trade-mark style of
political allegories and magical trips, which gave the name to the whole
first period of the Bulgarian cinema -- the cinema of poetics. "The
Alchemist's Dream" is the small world of Monsieur Michael who tries with his
hairdresser's magic to help the dwellers of that Balkan Macondo entangled
in provincial intrigues of love and envy. Almost a quarter of century after
Vulchanov made his "Aesop" (1970) and despite the fact that now the
Aesopic language is not the only possible syntax to declare one's vision,
the film easily falls in this same metaphorical and didactic trend, a trend
which the director maintains in the last ten years with "Last Wishes"
(Posledni zhelanija, 1983), "Where Are You Going?" (Zakyde pytuvate, 1986),
"Where Do We Go" (A sega nakyde?, 1988) and "Love is a Willful Bird"
(Nemirnata ptica ljubov, 1990).
Four full-length documentaries were also released this year: Henri
Koulev's "Sea in the Middle of the Earth" (More v sredata na Zemjata),
which was initially produced as TV series about the Mediterranean, "The
Doomed" (Obrechenite), "Citadel" (Citadelata) and "Tales of Assassins"
(Razkazi za ubijci).
Currently in Production. And there are several other feature films
currently in production: Dimiter Petkov's "Jehovah Ire (God Shall Decide)"
(Jehova-ire) is a period piece about the construction of the first railroad
in Bulgaria, but also about the eternal myth of the tyrant, the sin and
God's retribution set in an unknown small town. Krassimir Kroumov's "The
Forbidden Fruit" (Zabranenijat plod) is also rooted deeply in a
mythological plot of betrayal, revenge and patricide, while Kiran Kolarov's
"The Golden Chain" (Zlatnata veriga) spins a contemporary love story with
an unusual protagonist -- a sergeant from the Red berets. Ivan Nichev's
"Love Dreams" (Ljubovni synishta) is a rite of passage film based on
several Stefan Zweig's novelettes, and Georgi Djulgerov's "Magdalena"
(Magdalena) attempts to speak openly about the problems of the Gypsies'
minority in Bulgaria. Two other projects are set in the eighteenth century:
Docho Bodjakov's epic period saga "Vendetta" (Otmyshtenieto) and Nikolai
Volev's remake of the most successful Bulgarian film ever "The Goat Horn"
(Kozijat rog). And finally, Nidal Algafari's "La Donna e Mobile" about two
disabled girls is a melodrama with half-humorous, half-serious ambitions
for an Oscar in the spring of 1994.
Place on the Map.
The Bulgarian producers and directors' almost desperate and often
tragicomic urge for international recognition deserves some respect rather
than taunt. This urge is not provoked by an inferiority complex or
provincial megalomania; it comes with the scary knowledge that finding a
place on the map of the world cinema is not only a question of prestige but
of survival. The economic situation in the country and the logic of the
free market mechanisms condemn to extinction films and directors who could
not gain international producers, critics, distributors and moviegoers'
interest. Paradoxically, on the other hand, such eventual international
attention would induce the home audiences to attend these new Bulgarian
films, boosting them on a rather skeptical and cynical national market.
. 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.
Borislav Sharaliev (1922); Zako Heskia (1922); Vulo Radev (1923);
Binka Zhelyazkova (1923); Hristo Ganev (1924); Nikola Korabov
Hristo Hristov (1926); Hristo Piskov (1927); Rangel Vulchanov (1928)
Red years. The second period (1971-1983) can be called the "Red
years" of Bulgarian cinema, a term which is emotionally charged and yet
symbolic enough to be perceived just as a signifier outside of its
contextual definition. Holloway himself uses the term "the Pissarev years",
referring to Pavel Pissarev, who was general director of the Organization
of Bulgarian Cinematography in the 70's -- a typical bias, for this
otherwise accurate author, towards the overestimating of the role of
higher socialist aparatchiks, such as Pavel Pissarev and Lyudmila Zhivkova,
in the artistic developments of Bulgarian cinema. Strangely, it resembles
the approach of royal or party historians who interpreted national history
as the personal history of the monarchs or party leaders whom they were
serving. Unfortunately, this inclination has been literally replicated by
other scholars who did not have opportunity or personal interest for
research on their own. This period of maturity has two high points. The
first one is 1972 when Metodi Andonov completed "The Goat Horn" (Kozijat
rog). The film, made in the style of ancient tragedy, explores the problem
of gender identity and has brought one third of the whole Bulgarian
population into the theaters. Set in the eighteenth century, it is a story
of a girl who, after her mother's rape and death, is raised as a boy by her
father and becomes a haiduk -- an avenger and defender of the villagers in
the mountain. However, the genuine breakthrough of Bulgarian cinema on the
world film stage occurred in 1977-79: Binka Zhelyazkova's "The Swimming
Pool" (Basejnyt) won a Gold Medal at the Moscow Film Festival in 1977,
Georgi Djulgerov's "Advantage" (Avantazh), about a con man and pickpocket
during the age of the Personality Cult, won the Silver Bear for direction
at the Berlin Film Festival in 1978, and Rangel Vulchanov's masterpiece
"The Uknown Soldier's Patent Leather Shoes" (Lachenite obuvki na neznajnija
voin), "a lyrical poem in an autobiographical vein on a fading peasant
culture and the irretrievable past", opened the London Film Festival in
1979 and then won a Grand Prix at New Delhi.
The last recognition of Bulgarian cinema was at the Venice festival in
1983 with Vesselin Branev's "Hotel Central" (Hotel central), about an
innocent young girl from the provinces, who is mistakenly arrested, during
a period of political paranoia after the coup d'etat in 1934, and brought
to a hotel to serve as a chambermaid -- to be used and abused as the town
prostitute for all in power. She manages, however, to survive morally and
unmask the corruption of those about her.
After that the Bulgarian cinema had been buried under the dinosaurs'
corpses of several epic mega-spectacles, produced to mark the thirteen-
hundredth anniversary of Bulgaria as a state. One of them, Lyudmil
Staikov's three-part epic extravaganza "Khan Asparukh" (Han Asparuh) -- a
shortened English version "681 A.D.--The Glory of Khan" (1984) was
released by Warner Brothers -- was memorable only because it was the
most expensive film in the national film history with its cast of
thousands, its elaborate costumes and massive scenes, and because it
somehow managed to gather eleven million viewers (!!) in a country with a
total population of nine million. Ironically, this world record in per
capita attendance put an end to the second period of Bulgarian cinema and
threw it into a decade of lingering crisis.
With the same reservations stated above, here is a list of the second
generation of film directors:
Metodi Andonov (1932); Lyudmil Kirkov (1933); Ivan Terziev (1934);
Ivan Andonov (1934); Lyudmil Staikov (1937); Edward Zahariev (1938);
Georgi Stoyanov (1939); Mariana Evstatieva (1939); Nikola Rudarov;
Ivan Nichev (1940); Georgi Djulgerov (1943); Ivanka Grubcheva
Black Years. Continuing the ritual of color codification, one may paint
the sad mask of the last decade black. "Why the bottom should have
suddenly fallen out of Bulgarian cinema at a time when it had definitely
reached maturity is solely a matter of speculation," writes Ronald Holloway.
Putting aside his somewhat naive speculations, but also refusing to go into
lengthy analyses, let it simply be proposed that the ultimate reason which
led Bulgarian cinema to its slow decadence is the same that later brought
the whole socialist system to collapse in the country, and all over Eastern
Europe, rather than some personal changes in the corridors of power.
Although "even the better films seemed 'old hat' in comparison to those
produced during the previous decade", this period is important for the
emergence of a third generation of directors. This is the first generation
of film directors who graduated from the Sofia Film and Theater Academy
(VITIS); Nikolai Volev, an internationally recognized documentarist
graduated in London, and Henri Koulev, a controversial animator graduated
in Moscow. Another is Peter Popzlatev, who graduated in Paris. All are
counted here because their major feature works were produced in the 80's.
Nikolai Volev (1946); Kiran Kolarov (1946); Ivan Pavlov (1947);
Henri Koulev (1949); Evgeni Mihailov; Peter Popzlatev (1953);
Iskra Yossifova (1954); Rumyana Petkova; Lyudmil Todorov (1955);
Krassimir Kroumov (1955); Docho Bodjakov (1956)
Some of the more memorable films of the decade are the debuts or
second works of these young directors: Rumyana Petkova's "Coming Down
to Earth" (Prizemjavane, 1985) and Iskra Yossifova's "Love Therapy"
(Ljubovna terapija, 1987) -- two genuine feminist works; Chaim Cohen's
"Protect the Small Animals" (Zashtitete drebnite zhivotni, 1988); Ivan
Rossenov's "Stop for Strangers" (Spirka za nepoznati, 1989) -- an entry in
the New School Cinema in Transition Festival in New York 1993; Peter
Popzlatev's "I, The Countess" (Az, Grafinjata, 1989) -- a chronicle of a
junkie's life that won at least five international awards; Lyudmil
Todorov's "Running Dogs" (Bjagashti kucheta, 1989) and "The Love Summer of
a Schmo" (Ljubovnoto ljato na edin ljohman, 1990) -- a charming reunion film,
full of nostalgia and recollections about a missing friend who committed
suicide; Krassimir Kroumov's "Exitus" (Ekzitus, 1989) and "Waste"
(Mylchanieto, 1991) -- two somber political and moral allegories which mark
a bright new talent's rise on the Bulgarian film horizon; Docho Bodjakov's
"Thou Which Art in Heaven" (Ti, kojto si na nebeto; 1990) and "The Well"
(Kladenecyt, 1991) -- another entry in the New School Cinema in Transition
Festival, and another hot name on the list of the most significant
These third genaration directors and some of their older colleagues --
Nikolai Volev, Georgi Djulgerov, Ivan Andonov, Rangel Vulchanov -- who
appear to be revitalized by the new challenges the Bulgarian film artist is
facing, are nourishing the hope that the "White years" are almost here.
Periods of Bulgarian cinema:
I. Green years (1958-1970)
II. Red years (1971-1983)
III. Black years (1984-?)
IV. White years ?
. Character and Soul
What are, however, the essential characteristics of the Bulgarian
cinema, which could help it get closer to, or, on the contrary, further
away from the European limelight, after decades of life in the basements
and the sterile studies of a Balkan totalitarianism? What is the "history
of the disease" which has brought the national film industry to its painful
mutations? And can the x-rays of its new body verify the existence of soul
and free will for new life?
Theatricality. Ronald Holloway refers to the Bulgarian Literary
Revival of the past century, trying to explain why "the theatrical narrative
dominates over visual expression for the Bulgarian film artist." It is not
necessary to dig so deep into the past to see that the film industry of the
country was built as a superstructure of a strong theatrical tradition.
Because of the late, in fact repeated, start of the national film
production in the fifties, the first directors, actors and writers came
directly from the theater. The same situation can be seen once again on the
academic level in the second period of the Bulgarian cinema, when the Film
School was founded and attached to the Sofia Academy of Dramatic Art in
1973. The first graduates of the school made their debuts in the early
eighties. Several other factors contributed to this orientation of
Bulgarian cinema. Three very influential writers -- Angel Wagenstein,
Valeri Petrov and Yordan Radichkov -- put an emphasis on the narrative
rather than on the visual style of the films in that initial
period. Finally, the social and political imperatives of the day determined
a greater concern with the text of the script, which was the explicit
bearer of the ideological message. From the point of view of the ultimate
film producer, the State, it was much easier to comprehend, control and
eventually censor the narrative than to deal with a much more complex and
ambiguous cinematic language. As in the Hollywood studio system during that
time, the director was not an artist, but rather an artisan, while the
producer was the quintessential author of the final product, be it
propaganda or mere entertainment. Nowadays, in the end of the third major
period of Bulgarian cinema, it is ridiculous to insist that theatricality
is one of its dominant distinctions, though the birth-marks of a pathetic
loquacity and some theatrical structural and temporal peculiarities -- for
example, a notably slower pace -- can still be spotted now and then.
Allegorical Expressionism. Ironically, this second and most
significant attribute of the subject was developed as a reaction to the
first one and the mechanisms which stood behind it. 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.
Ethnicity. An assiduous explorer of the Bulgarian cultural terrain
should acknowledge, however, that the most important aspect of allegorical
expressionism is its ability to determine not only the past but also the
future of the national film identity. Some critics have made the assumption
that the moral, philosophic and political allegories were just Aesopic
tools for climbing up the totalitarian censorship and, therefore, after its
death they themselves would vanish into thin air; but this assumption is a
projection which is not rooted in the specific cultural realities of the
region. "Indeed, most of Bulgarian cinema only makes sense in juxtaposition
with its vast cultural and national heritage," writes Ronald Holloway. Then
he quotes Vernon Young: "All art is a game played by ethnic rules." The
Bulgarian cinema is no exception. Its allegorical expressionism originates in
the Bulgarian ethno-psychology and folklore, national literature and arts, in
the Eastern Orthodoxy and pagan rites, and in the mythological
Weltansicht, mirrored in a language that employs one and the same word
for "story" and "history".
Some of the negative consequences of the ethnicity, as a significant
characteristic of Bulgarian cinema, were: isolation, nationalism and
provincialism. "The provincial attitudes and values of the overall cultural
atmosphere kept giving renewed support to the convention of schematism
and the mechanism of auto-censorship," wrote Liehm and Liehm two
decades ago. Hopefully, things have since changed for good.
On thematic level this attribute of Bulgarian cinema brought the series
of migration and folkways films from the seventies: A Boy Becomes a Man
(1972), Men without Work (1973), A Tree without Roots (1974), The
Last Summer (1974), Peasant on a Bicycle (1974), Villa Zone (1975),
Strong Water (1975), Matriarchate (1977) and Manly Times (1977). It
gave birth to Georgi Djulgerov's masterpiece Measure for Measure (1981),
but also to a heap of nationalistic historical epics, produced on a
gargantuan scale in the early eighties, which almost suffocated the
Bulgarian cinema, and threw it into its third period of stagnation and
lingering crisis. As a positive effect of the ethnicity of Bulgarian
cinema, one could expect some kind of fascinating artistic uniqueness with
much a broader appeal that eventually would transform the allegorical
expressionism in a trade-mark of excellence. A role model for such a
positive shift may be the Latin American magic realism.
Cosmopolitanism. "She was both a cosmopolitan and a cultural
nationalist," writes Bruce R. S. Litte about Lyudmila Zhivkova in a rather
dubious context, but the phrase is interesting because in some way it
reflects a dominant force in the Bulgarian culture and cinema respectively
-- the tension between ethnicity and cosmopolitanism.
Bulgaria, as a small country, was always exposed to alien cultural
influences. In the first half of the century it was the French and German
poetry, art and philosophy, then the Russian literature, cinema and ideology,
later on the Italian neo-realism, French New Wave and the East European
Schools, and now the American blockbusters. (The American share of the
theatrical market was estimated at 95 per cent last year). "It is ironic that
theater schedules in Sofia offer a third of the repertoire to foreign
dramatists, in order to acquaint home audiences with O'Neill and Albee,"
wrote Ronald Holloway ten years ago, "yet American and English audiences
are quite ignorant of the dramas penned by Nikolai Haitov, Valeri Petrov,
and Yordan Radichkov, for the simple reason that no one has even bothered
to translate them into English."
And the next quotation may well be the most accurate observation in
the whole Ronald Holloway's book: "Bulgaria is often reffered to as 'the
Prussia of the Balkans.' It is a land of culture and traditions. As a
country on the crossroads between Europe and Asia, it tends to absorb and
reflect rather than promote or flaunt its own unique national character."
Cosmopolitanism emerges as a reaction of the frustrated Bulgarian artist
against isolationism and provincialism. At its worst, it introduces more or
less successful replicas of famous foreign film and genre samples. At its
best, it leads to unique works of more or less universal significance. This
cosmopolitan quest for eternal human values and issues also stems from the
deep roots of allegorical expressionism. Not surprisingly, most of the
films listed above as moral, philosophic or political allegories abound
with elements of well-known universal myths. Ironically, after forty years
floating in the ideological space of socialist myths, the Bulgarian film
artist remains a modern mythmaker rather than a postmodern mythoclast.
Self-reflexivity. It was well known that the significant works in East
Europe were produced by auteurs with distinguished personal style and
vision -- Tarkovsky, Jancso, Zanussi, etc. However, it seemed that the age
of perestroika with its disillusionment, apathy, double moral, distrust in
the official ideology and crisis of faith, which marked the beginning of
the economic, ecological, ethnic and ethical collapse of the socialist
system, did trigger a chain process of disintegration in the high-modernity
paradigm of socialist realism and, on the other hand, of semi-dissident
visionary authorship. In Russia, in the past few years, more and more works
of post-modern sensibility started popping up. Not in Bulgaria, though.
The author's persona remains the most significant factor determining
not only the whole production process, but also the thematic content, form
and style of the new Bulgarian cinema. This auteur figure often tends to
expose the subject of film depiction through self-reflexive projections of
his or her own existential obsessions.
A good example may be Krassimir Kroumov, one of the most promising
directors of the third generation, "a young genius of film directing who
unifies his entirely individual style with the achievements of the New
German cinema of the 60's and 70's," according to the critic Hans
Schurman from "Bonner General - Anzeiger". His last film "The Waste"
(Mylchanieto, 1991) is about a psychiatrist who recognizes in a patient's
dead body his own father, who he has thought missing since the communist
atrocities of 1949 and who he himself has confined to an asylum. In the
film there is also a Vergilian figure, the Historian, who serves as
author's alter-ego, a commentator implemented in the text that he is
supposed to comment and a false witness who gives false evidence on what he
has seen. "Wittgenstein asserted that the crisis of philosophy is a crisis
of language, and I think that our very existence up to now has been a
fake. In the beginning the Historian talks too much, and then he utters
ever less words until he reaches the final silence where he hears time. It
is a trip back, to the spring of words, to their nakedness and ultimate
freedom," says the director.
Didacticism. In Krassimir Kroumov's works "one can sense the
same spiritual intensity, the same moral ideal and almost religious passion
in the exploration of human suffering as in Tarkovsky's films." But one can
also sense a smack of another crucial and immutable characteristic of
Bulgarian cinema -- messianic didacticism; and the reference to the Russian
director Tarkovsky is not accidental at all. The roots of that didacticism,
which suited the communist ideology and propaganda so well, are much
deeper and can be traced back to the common ground of Eastern Orthodoxy
-- be it Russian, Bulgarian, Greek or Georgian -- and its unique cultural
heritage. For a longer excursion in the Bulgarian past, one can read the
first chapter "Art and History" of Ronald Holloway's "The Bulgarian
Cinema", but for the purpose of this paper it is sufficient to mention that
being an artist in the Eastern Orthodox tradition was considered similar to
being a priest -- a status charged with the greatest moral
responsibilities; the artist was treated as a God's servant rather than as
a traveling comedian, as a preacher rather than as a clown. And a
far-reaching consequence of it is the indisputable assumption that art and
entertainment could never be synonymous.
How to defeat this sacred but obsolete notion as a moral imperative for
creativity? This would eventually be the Bulgarian auteurs' toughest
challenge. It is quite obvious, though, that it should be done in order to
survive, at least physically, in a pervasive reality professing a rather
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
Obscurity. As a Bulgarian, I could hope that this notorious
heterogeneousness of Bulgarian cinema is the main reason for the amazing
disinterest and ignorance to the subject in the English language critical
literature and scholarship (though it is really hard to be so naive to
really believe it). Ronald Holloway seems to be the only Bulgarian film
scholar writing in English, who at least knows the subject at first hand,
while the very few other critical attempts are either occasional film
reviews or second hand "accounts, drawn from the limited recent scholarship
and reviews, of this neglected film culture." Bruce R. S. Litte complains
that "Bulgarian films are not available to film students, to say nothing of
average viewers; nor have they become available on video", but he does not
specify whether this is the cause or the effect of this almost total
disinterest to a whole national cinema.
The new Bulgarian cinema. What are its characteristics? Does it really
exist? Is it strong enough to survive in the post-communist environment?
Why does it remain one of the few white spots on the map of the East
These were some of the questions that this paper was trying to answer,
focusing on the last five years, but also tracing back the more durable
tendencies in the previous decades. It was an attempt to determine the
variables but also the constants which stand in the complex equation of
contemporary Bulgarian cinema, with a full knowledge, however, of how
little could be done in such a short form dealing with such a broad subject
-- a whole national film industry.
The following are just some of the topics which have not been
mentioned at all because of length limitation: Bulgarian documentaries and
animated cartoons which, ironically, enjoy much greater international
recognition than their heavy-weight feature brothers ("Conserve-world" was
even nominated for an Oscar), Bulgarian children films, the feminist trend,
the genre movies, the national specifics of acting, cinematography and
montage as essential characteristics of Bulgarian film expressiveness (more
often than not, directing turns out to be the weakest link in many
particular film efforts), the new tendency of film professionals draining
into the TV, the political role of the filmmakers (the third generation
director Evgeni Mihailov with his documentary footage was the prime reason
for the last communist president Peter Mladenov's resignation), the
theoretical, formal and critical presumptions which stand behind Bulgarian
film artists' creative motivation, etc. Unfortunately, even those topics
that have been discussed are pointed out rather than thoroughly analyzed,
but it could not be otherwise. My main concern remains to acknowledge the
mere existence of the subject matter before approaching it
phenomenologically. "My approach to the material is journalistic, rather
than academic," writes Ronald Holloway. This is an approach of an outsider
who was on a field trip to expand his terrain of research. My approach is
that of an insider who is for a while outside of his cultural reality in
order to gain a better perspective on it. If a Western scholar's goal is
to understand and explain, then mine is to reflect and translate. This text
derives its mode of expression directly from its subject, and as a
derivative, not surprisingly, it shares all of the attributes of its
argument: self-reflexivity, heterogeneousness, loquacity, allegorical and
didactic expressiveness, mythological and folklore Weltansicht, uniqueness
and of course. The subject alone determines the syntax in which its tale to
be told -- a syntax that does not distinguish "story" from "history".
The whole PART II of Ronald Holloway's "The Bulgarian Cinema" is an
extensive filmography of Bulgarian cinema from 1915 to 1985. This list here
shoud be considered as an up-to-date appendix, though not comprehensive
by any means.
All for Love - Nikolai Volev (Da obichash na inat)
A Cry for Help - Nikola Roudarov (Vik za pomosht)
Reference - Hristo Hristov (Harakteristika)
My Darling, My Darling - Edward Zahariev (Skypa moja, skypi moj)
Where Are You Going? - Rangel Vulchanov (Zakyde pytuvate)
The Transports of Death - Borislav Pounchev (Eshalonite na smyrtta)
13th Bride of the Prince - Ivanka Grubcheva (13ata godenica na princa)
Dreamers - Ivan Andonov (Mechtateli)
The Judge - Plamen Maslarov (Sydijata)
Steppe People - Yanoush Vazov (Stepni hora)
The Girls and Their Neshka (doc.) - Georgi Djulgerov (Momichetata i
House No 8 (doc.) - Nikolai Volev (Dom nomer 8)
Friday Night - Lyudmil Kirkov (Petyk vecher)
Coming Down to Earth - Rumyana Petkova (Prizemjavane)
Eve on the Third Floor - Ivanka Grubcheva (Eva na tretija etazh)
Someone at the Door - Milen Nikolov
Yesterday - Ivan Andonov (Vchera)
Love Therapy - Iskra Yossifova (Ljubovna terapija)
1. Nights on the Roofs - Binka Zhelyazkova (Noshtem po pokrivite)
2. - 3. Time of Violence - Lyudmil Staikov (Vreme razdelno)
4. Where Do We Go - Rangel Vulchanov (A sega nakyde?)
5. Protect the Small Animals - Chaim Cohen (Zashtitete drebnite zhivotni)
6. The Neighbor - Adela Peeva (Sysedkata)
7. Uncle Godfather - Stefan Dimitrov (Chicho Krystnik)
8. Forget If You Can - Nikolai Bossilkov (Ako mozhesh zabravi)
9. The Report - Milen Nikolov (Izlozhenieto)
10. Blind Saturday - Panayot Panayotov (Sljapa sybota)
11. AcaDaMus- Georgi Djulgerov (Akatamus)
Stairway to Heaven (doc) - (Stylba kym nebeto)
The Prosecutor - Lyubomir Sharlandjiev (Prokuroryt) (1968)
The Life Flows Silently - Binka Zhelyazkova (ZHivotyt si teche tiho)
1. No Damage - Zako Heskia (Bez draskotina)
2. Stop for Strangers - Ivan Rossenov (Spirka za nepoznati)
3. Father - Detelin Benchev (Bashta)
4. Ivan and Alexandra - Ivan Nichev (Ivan i Aleksandra)
5. Running Dogs - Lyudmil Todorov (Bjagashti kucheta)
6. Fragmented Love - Ivan Cherkelov (Parcheta ljubov)
7. Adios Rio - Ivan Andonov (Adio, Rio)
8. The Threat - Milen Nikolov (Zaplahata)
9. Exitus - Krassimir Kroumov (Ekzitus)
10. Right of Choice - Emil Tsanev (Pravo na izbor)
11. Zone 2-V - Chavdar Gagov (Zona V-2)
12. Judas' Silver - Svetoslav Ovcharov (JUdino zheljazo)
13. Marital Jokes - (comp.) (Brachni shegi)
14. Divorces, Divorces - (comp.) (Razvodi, razvodi)
15. Test'88 - Hristo Hristov (Test'88)
16. Maggie - Peter Donev (Megi)
17. Margarit and Margarita - Nikolai Volev (Margarit i Margarita)
18. I, The Countess - Peter Popzlatev (Az, Grafinjata)
19. Coming Back - Yanush Vazov, Lada Boyadjieva (Zavryshtane)
1. The Carnaval - Ivanka Grubcheva (Karnavalyt)
2. My Nephew is a Foreigner - Mariana Evstatieva (Plemenikyt
3. Tale of the White Wind - Nikola Korabov (Poverie za belija vjatyr)
4. Thou Which Art in Heaven - Docho Bodjakov (Ti, kojto si na nebeto)
5. 8 % of Love - Vladimir Kraev (8% ljubov)
6. Shortage - Chaim Cohen (Deficit)
7. Mayor, Mayor - Plamen Maslarov (Kmete, kmete)
8. Musical Moment - Nikolai Bossilkov (Muzikalen moment)
9. The Camp - Georgi Djulgerov (Lageryt)
10. Cruel and Innocent - Iskra Yossifova (ZHestok i nevinen)
11. The Love Summer of a Schmo - Lyudmil Todorov (Ljubovnoto ljato na
12. Anthrax - Stanislava Kalcheva (Antraks)
The Attached Baloon - Binka Zhelyazkova (Privyrzanija balon) (1967)
13. I Still Put off Forgetting You - Stefan Gurdev (Vse otlagam da te
14. Walks with the Angel - Ivan Pavlov (Razxodki s angela)
15. Sofia Story - Nadya Staneva (Sofijska istorija)
16. Love is a Willful Bird - Rangel Vulchanov (Nemirnata ptica ljubov)
17. The Drummer and His Wife - Panayot Panayotov (Barabanchikyt i
negovata zhena barabanchica)
The Survivers (doc.) - Atanas Kiryakov (Ocelelite)
Salvador Dali - (Spain/Bulgaria) (Salvador Dali)
1. Silence - Dimiter Petkov (Tishina)
2. The Bronze Fox - Nikola Roudarov (Bronzovata lisica)
3. Indian Games - Ivan Andonov (Indianski igri)
4. That Thing - Georgi Stoyanov (Onova neshto)
5. Nature Reserve - Edward Zahariev (Rezervat)
6. Material Evidence - Borislav Pounchev (Veshtestveno dokazatelstvo)
7. Madame Bovary form Sliven - Emil Tsanev (Madam Bovari ot Sliven)
8. O, Lord, Where Are You - Krassimir Spassov (O, Gospodi, kyde si?)
9. Tony - Dimiter Petrov (Toni)
10. The Well - Docho Bodjakov (Kladenecyt)
11. Bay Ganyo Goes to Europe - Ivan Nichev (Baj Ganjo trygva po
12. Gentle Killings - Lyubomir Hristov; Valentin Nedyalkov (Nezhni
13. The Father of the Egg - Henri Koulev (Bashtata na jajceto)
14. Plyontek - Borislav Sharaliev (Pljontek)
15. Waste - Krassimir Kroumov (Mylchanieto)
16. I Want America - Kiran Kolarov (Iskam Amerika)
1. Palpitation - Ivan Balevski (Aritmija)
2. Bullet for Paradise - Sergei Komitski (Kurshum za raja)
3. Vampires, Spooks - Ivan Andonov (Vampiri, talasymi)
4. Bad Boy - Georgi Popvassilev (Losho momche)
5. Something in the Air - Peter Popzlatev (Neshto vyv vyzduha)
Sea in the Middle of the Earth (doc.) - Henri Koulev (More v sredata na
The Doomed (doc.) - (Obrechenite)
1. Day of Forgiveness - Radoslav Spassov (Sirna Nedelja)
Citadel (doc.) - (Citadelata)
Tales of Assassins (doc.) - (Razkazi za ubijci)
2. Frontier - Ilian Simeonov; Hristian Nochev (Granica)
--- In production:
3. Burn, Burn Little Fire - Rumyana Petkova (Gori, gori ogynche)
4. La Donna e Mobile - Nidal Algafari
5. Jehovah Ire (God Shall Decide) - Dimiter Petkov (Jehova-ire)
6. The Alchemist's Dream - Rangel Vulchanov (Mechtata na alhimika)
7. The Forbidden Fruit - Krassimir Kroumov (Zabranenijat plod)
8. Love Dreams - Ivan Nichev (Ljubovni synishta)
9. Magdalena - Georgi Djulgerov (Magdalena)
10. The Golden Chain - Kiran Kolarov (Zlatnata veriga)
11. The Revenge - Docho Bodjakov (Otmyshtenieto)
12. The Goat Horn - Nikolai Volev (Kozijat rog)
Since one can not find much information about these third generation
directors in scholarly or popular film literature in English, at least their
filmography is provided here:
Nikolai Volev (1946): The Double (Dvojnikyt, 1980); King for a Day
(Gospodin za edin den, 1983); All for Love (Da obichash na inat, 1986);
House No 8 (doc.) (Dom nomer 8, 1987); Margarit and Margarita
(Margarit i Margarita, 1989); The Goat Horn (Kozijat rog, 1993) (in
Kiran Kolarov (1946): Status: Orderly (Sluzhebno polozhenie: ordinarec,
1978); The Airman (Vyzdushnijat chovek, 1980); Case No. 205/1913 (Delo
#205/1913 g., 1985); I Want America (Iskam Amerika, 1991); The
Golden Chain (Zlatnata veriga, 1993) (in production)
Ivan Pavlov (1947): Mass Miracle (Masovo chudo, 1981); Black and
White (TV) (Cherno i bjalo, 1983); Walks with the Angel (Razxodki s
Henri Koulev (1949): Death of the Hare (Smyrtta na zaeka, 1981); The
Father of the Egg (Bashtata na jajceto, 1991); Sea in the Middle of the
Earth (TV doc.) (More v sredata na Zemjata, 1992)
Evgeni Mihailov: Home for Lonely Souls (Dom za samotni dushi,
1981); Death Can Wait a While (Smyrtta mozhe da pochaka; 1985)
Peter Popzlatev (1953): I, The Countess (Az, Grafinjata, 1989);
Something in the Air (Neshto vyv vyzduha, 1992)
Iskra Yossifova (1954): Love Therapy (Ljubovna terapija, 1987); Cruel
and Innocent (ZHestok i nevinen, 1990)
Rumyana Petkova: Reflections (Otrazhenija, 1982); Coming Down to
Earth (Prizemjavane, 1985); Burn, Burn Little Flame (Gori, gori
Lyudmil Todorov (1955): Running Dogs (Bjagashti kucheta, 1989); The
Love Summer of a Schmo (Ljubovnoto ljato na edin ljohman, 1990)
Dimiter Petkov: Silence (Tishina, 1991); Jehovah Ire (God Shall
Decide) (Jehova-ire, 1993) (in production)
Krassimir Kroumov (1955): Exitus (Ekzitus, 1989); Waste
(Mylchanieto, 1991); The Forbidden Fruit (Zabranenijat plod, 1993) (in
Docho Bodjakov (1956): Memory (Pamet, 1985); Thou Which Art in
Heaven (Ti, kojto si na nebeto; 1990); The Well (Kladenecyt, 1991);
Vendetta (Otmyshtenieto, 1993) (in production)
Holloway, Ronald. The Bulgarian Cinema. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh
Dickinson University Press, 1986
Holloway, Ronald. "Bulgaria: The Cinema of Poetics." Post New Wave
Cinema in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Edited by Daniel J.
Goulding. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988
Bruce R. S, Litte. "Bulgaria." Handbook of Soviet and East European
Films and Filmmakers. Edited by Thomas J. Slater. N.Y.: Greenwood
Liehm, Mira, and Antonin J. Liehm. The Most Important Art: Soviet
and East European Film After 1945. Berkeley: University of California,
Stoil, Michael Jon. Cinema Beyond Danube. Metuchen, N.J.:
Stoyanovich, Ivan, "Bulgaria." Annually in International Film Guide.
Edited by Peter Cowie, 1965-1991
Jorn Rossing Jensen. "Bulgaria." Moving Pictures. Cannes 19 may
Katharine F. Cornell. "After the Wall." Cineaste, Vol.XIX #4, March
spisanie Kino, organ na Syjuza na bylgarskite filmovi dejci. 1992-1993
Bylgarsko kino, bjuletin na Nacionalnija filmov centyr. 1992-1993
Kino - maj/92 - "Kurshum za raja" 16 str.; "Aritmija" 52 str.; NFC 41
str.; Media'92 38 str.
Kino - dek/92 - "Vampiri, talasymi" 10 str.; " Privyrzanija balon" 50 str.
Kino - 1/93 - NFC 10 str.; "Granica" 14 str.; E. Zaharaiev 42 str.
Kino - 2/93 - "Sirna nedelja" 23 str.; TV antena 50 str.
Kino 3/93 - G. Djulgerov - dok. 3 str.; B. ZHeljazkova 21 str.;
Ungarija 32 str.
Pari 21/5/93 - "Hramyt na izkustvata pustee"
Bylgarsko kino -dek/92 - Analiz 92
12-2 Bulgarian films celebrated at the Cannes Festival
(by Dragomir R. Radev), last updated: 03-Jul-1996 (This entry is in French)
1985 Jenitba Slav Bakalov, Roumen Petkov Bulgaria Palme d'or - CM
1959 Sterne Konrad Wolf Bulgaria/GDR Prix Special du Jury: K. Wolf
1955 Geroite na Shipka Sergey Vasiliev Bulgaria Prix de la mise en scene
12-3 Bulgarian sayings
(by Plamen Stefanov), last updated: 31-Jul-1994
"No matter how little they pay us, they can never pay as little as we
will work for them".
"All diseases are caused by not drinking regularly".
CHAPTER 13: MUSIC AND DANCE
13-1 Bulgarian music on CD's
Stambolovo '88 Balkanton 060101
Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares Explorer 9 79165-2
Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares, Vol. 2 Explorer 9 79201-2
Villiage Music of Bulgaria / Bulgarian Folk Music Explorer 9 79195-2
Music of Bulgaria / Ensemble of the Bulgarian Republic Explorer 9 72011-2
The Severnyashki Folk Ensemble Round The World Gega GD 103
The Greatest Bulgarian Folk Dances Gega GD 106
Balkana / The Music of Bulgaria Hannibal CD-1335
The Forest is Crying / The Trio Bulgarka Hannibal CD-1342
Two Girls Started to Sing... Rounder CD-1055
Bulgarian Polyphony Vol. 2 / The National Folk Ensemble Victor VDP-1462
Balkan -- Mysterious Voices of Bulgaria Virgin 2-91368
"Two Girls..." is very poor -- don't buy it. "Balkan" is the soundtrack
to a documentary. "Stambolovo" is modern wedding band music. "Bulgarian
Polyphony" #1 and #2 are both out of print (they are Japanese). Many
of these CDs can be ordered my mail from Elderly Instruments, a company
in East Lansing, Michigan (call information for the number). They have
a catalogue they will send to you.
13-2 Bulgarian musical instruments
The traditional musical instruments of Bulgaria are:
The kaval is a wooden flute which is played by blowing across the end.
It has a very interesting woody sound. The name kaval is found for
similar musical instruments from Rumania all the way to India, but the
Bulgarian kaval is probably the most beautiful sounding version. The kaval
was the chosen instrument of shepherds, who needed some way to entertain
themselves while grazing sheep on the high pastures. Unfortunately the
number of Bulgarians who play the kaval well has dropped due to the fewer
number of shepherds.
The gadulka is a bowed instrument similar to a violin, but only three
strings are bowed, while the rest are sympathetic; ie, these strings
vibrate on a harmonic, giving a very rich texture, but are not fingered.
The gadulka held by a sling around the neck, much like a saxaphone, and
the fingerboard is up by the players neck. Of all the traditional
Bulgarian instruments, the gadulka has declined in popularity the most,
and is rarely heard, even on folk music recordings.
The gaida is a bagpipe with one drone. The bag is usually made out of
goat hide, although the very large Macedonian kaba gaida is often made
from sheep hide. The gaida sounds quite different from the more common
The tupan is a large drum which is played with a big drumstick on one
side and a very thin drumstick on the other. Any person who has ever
learned to play any kind of drum for "western" music (ie, R&R), please
spare all of us and do not try to pick up Bulgarian tupan. Bulgarian
rhythms consist of short beats of two counts and long beats of three
counts, and westerners invariably split the long beats incorrectly.
Other instruments which are common are the dumbek, a small lap drum,
the zurna, an incredibly loud reed instrument, and the tamburitsa,
a plucked string instrument similar to a bouzouki, but these are also
common in Turkey, Greece, and other countries are are not solely Bulgarian.
Originally these instruments were used mostly for village dancing, and
only one or occasionally two instruments would be played at a time.
People would dance to one of the melody instruments, sometimes accompanied
by a tupan. The zurna and tupan is still a popular combination in
Macedonia. In this century, bands became popular which had one or more
of each instrument, say, for instance, a kaval, a gadulka, a gaida, a
tamburitsa, and a tupan. Later, instruments such as the accordeon and
clarinet became popular. Nowadays, the "traditional" Bulgarian wedding
band might have clarinets, electric guitars, and so on.
13-3 Bulgarian folk dance
(by Jim Garrett)
I'm a member of a relatively small community of
folk-dancers that especially treasures Bulgarian dancing.
I know many people here in Minneapolis/St. Paul who would love
to see Bulgarian dancers, but I can't help you directly with a
producer. Perhaps the Ethnic Dance Theater based in Minneapolis
would be a good contact. Their number is (612) 872-0024.
13-4 Bulgarian Folk Dance Club in Buffalo, NY, USA
(by Barbara Dintcheff) (This entry is in Bulgarian)
Zdravai ot Buffalo, New York!
Ako doidite v Buffalo, New York, ilati da igraite narodni hora i
rachenitsi. Nie se sabranie vseki Petek ot 8 vecherta na Universitet
na Buffalo. Nie znaem starite Bqlgari i mnogoto novite Bqlgari
okolo Buffalo. Tuka e oshte informatsia:
We are the International Folk Dance Club
At the University at Buffalo
Main Street (South) Campus
Diefendorf Hall - Ground Floor, usually Room 2
Fridays 8:00 to 11:00 p.m.
8 - 9 = Teaching 9 - 11 = Request Dancing
Last Meeting of 1993: 12/17/93
Next Meeting: 1/7/94
Contact: Barbara Dintcheff (H) 716-675-0203
13-5 Bulgarian records
(by Paul Amblard)
4 records I have at home, 2 of them were recently reviewed in the french
In the shop I also found a lot of others.
Bulgarian folk ensembles and songs Balkanton 060053
Vocal traditions of Bulgaria Say-disc (UK company) CD-SDL-396
Musics and musicians of the world. Bulgaria. AUVIDIS (French company) UNESCO
collection D 8019
Rhodopa family GEGA GD124
the fourth is the best for my pleasure but other opinions are welcome !!!
13-6 Bulgarian music : 20th Century
(by Luben Boyanov)
During the first years of the 20th century, the Bulgarians listened to
the works of the first 'famous' Bulgarian composer of classical (not
to be mixed with the definition of L. Bernstein) music - Maestro Atanasoff.
Amongst his famous works are "Kossara", "Borislav" and "Atzek" (opera).
During the same time, 2 brothers - Luben and Pancho Vladigerovi
were sent to study in Europe (? Germany?). Pancho Vladigerov became
the most prominent figure of the Bulgarian classical music. His
most famous work "Bulgarian Rhapsody Vardar" is still the best known and
loved Bulgarian classical composition. Pancho Vladigerov is also the author
of piano concertoes and other works. Pancho Vladigerov is the teacher of
of one of the most famous world pianists - Alexis Weisenberg (living in Paris
at present). Weisenberg left Bulgaria while being a child and came back
only during the early 80-ies enjoying enormous success amongst the Bulgarian
audience. Another world famous pianist and student of Pancho Vladigerov is
Milcho Leviev (who lives in LA) - who also returned with great success in
Bulgaria after years being separated from his country (living in the USA.
The former was/is one of the leading world classical piano playes, the later
is one of the top jazz-piano players. Both are jazz composers.
"Bulgarian Rhapsody Vardar" is composed using Bulgarian folk motives, and so
is another very famous Bulgarian classic music piece - "Thracian Dances" -
by Petko Stainov.
Another famous Bulgarian composer is Parashkev Hadjiev. He had many piano
compositions, songs and operas ("Leto 1893", "Maria Desislava", "Lud
From the younger generation Bulgarian classical music composers are
Krasimir Kyurkchiiski (the ballet "Kosyat Rog") and Stefan Dragostinov
(with the "F. Kutev" ensemble, and also he - Dragostinov - is a composer of
The Bulgarian classical music generation of the 50-ies, 60-ies is
known with the piano composers Emil Naumov (student of Nadia Boulanger)
and Boyan Vodenicharov.
Written without references - according to memory only - sorry if I missed
(or messed) somebody.
13-7 Addresses of Bulgarian musical companies
(by Luben Boyanov)
Some contact addresses in Bulgaria of companies/distributors of music:
Impressario and Publishing House "Rod"
134 Vasil Levski Bulv, 2nd floor
tel: 359 2 77 03 10
fax: 359 2 43 10 42
6 Haidoushka Polyana Str.
tel: 359 2 52 54 51
fax: 359 2 54 27 44
telex: BALKTON BG
13-8 Bulgarian Rock'n'Roll
(by Peter Yovchev), last updated: 31-Jul-1994 (This entry is in Bulgarian)
Naposledqka mi se sluchi da si govorya s nay-razlichni hora po mrtejata
i nyakaksi spontanno se zarodi ideyata da se opitam da izloja v organiziran
vid , tova , koeto znam za bqlgarskiya rok. Tazi istoriya nyama da se zanimava
s izvestnite nam ot socialistichesko minalo bqlgarski rok muzikanti, kato
FSB, SHturcite, Tangra , Signal i Diana Ekspres, a shte se opita da vklyuchi
dosta vajniya spored men fenomen na zarajzdaneto , razvitieto, apogeya i
upadqka na neformalniya, ulichniya bqlgarski rok.
Az sqm jiv svidetel na po-golyamata chast ot izlojenite sqbitiya kakto
i uchastnik v nyakoi ot tyah i zatova shte
si pozvolya da pisha v izyavitelno naklonenie. I taka:
Nastoyashtata istoriya razglejda perioda ot nachaloto na 80-tte godini do
Prez 80-tte ili daje oshte po-rano se poyaviha v Sofiya pqrvite pqnkari.
Do togava se e svirila muzika , povecheto Beatles i Acid rock, v sredite
na taka narechenite hipari, zakqsnyalata reakciya na hipi-dvijenieto, chiito
sedalishta byaha Monteto i Stenata v Parka. Pqnkarite sa edna
grupichka puberiteti ot mahalata, koito slushat heavy metal i punk i reshavat,
che e vreme da si poleyat kosite s bira i da zabodat bezopasnite igli. Pqrvite
predstaviteli na dvijenieto byaha dvama - trima yunaci , poznati i na drugi
uchastnici v diskusiite - nebezizvestniyte Kuni i Motopeya, Karlo, Dani,
Bobi (Ramones), bratya Dinevi (Shemeta i Fashista) i oshte nikomu neizvestniya
Kolyo Ciganina ili izvesten oshte pod imeto Kolyo Gilqna. Estestveno imashe
oshte 10-tina yunaci chiito imena sqm zabravil, a fizionomiite im ne pomnya.
Grupichkata se sqbirashe v gradinkata zad Ruskata cherkva i tam se organizi-
raha i sqotvetno vednaga sled tova se razpadaha pqrvite underground punk
i hard rock grupi. Imenno tam izgrya zvezdata na edna ot nay-starite ni
"mladi" grupi - TNT, preimenuvana po-kqsno v "Trotil", koyato sqshtestvuva i
do dnes. Po tova vreme imashe mnogo malko drugi rok grupi. Shte se spra samo na
dve ot tyah , koito po-kqsno zahraniha rodniya rock s mnogo i dobri muzikanti.
Pqrvata ot tyah beshe nebezizvestnata grupa "Apokalipsis" v sqstav :
Niki Kacharov - kitara i vokal
Bobi Gradinarski - kitara
Svetlyo Daskalov - bas i
Ivo Popov - barabani
Grupata beshe jestoka, Niki vqrteshe jica sled jica, muzikata beshe tvqrda,
daje mnogo tvqrda. Shte vidim po-kqsno , che gornite muzikanti shte se
poyavyat v drugi formacii.
Drugata 'stara' grupa beshe "Analgin", ot chiyto sqstav sui spomnyam dvama
dushi - Richie - kitara i nebezizvestniya Zvezdi - vokal. Tam svireshe kato
kitarist i edin Mitko ot frenskata gimnaziya po edno vreme.
Po tova vreme zapochnaha po chitalishta i uchilishta da se sqzdavat grupi
ot uchenici, mladi, neopitni, no nahqseni i uporiti, smeli i optimisti.
Tryabva da vi kaja , che samo vqv Frenskata gimnaziya imashe osven
"Apokalipsis" i 'Trotil" oshte 3 grupi. Ednata beshe grupata 'NLO',
s Boreto Daskalov, chieto ime po-kqsno beshe otkradnato ot trimata shutove,
izvestni ni dnes pod gornoto ime. Drugata grupa beshe sqzdadenata ot moya
milost grupa "Nirvana" , sqshto mnogoizpatilo ime , otkradnato po-kqsno
ot momchetata ot muzikalnoto, a sled tova i ot west beach rocker-ite, koito
go napraviha svetovnoizvestno. Tretata grupa, moje bi nay-kupondjiyskata
i nay-priyatna beshe "Krater", s Muvi, Joro i Sashko Kratera. "Krater" daje
imaha i koncertni izyavi i mnogo publika i pochitatelki.
V Nemskata gimnaziya imashe grupa 'Izgrev', koyato vklyuchvashe Toni kato
kitarist i Yavor Petrov , kato barabanist. Po kqsno Toni sqzdade "Testament"
a Yavor sviri v dosta grupi i do den dneshen ne se e otkazal ot roka.
Dokolkoto si spomnyam i v Angliyskata gimnaziya se opitvaha da pravyat
rok, no ne sqm mnogo siguren dokolko uspeshno e bilo, tam vqzlovata figura
beshe Bogi Milchev, ako ne se lqja. Estestveno, nay-dobrite v profesionalno
otnoshenie byaha momchetata i momichetata ot muzikalnoto (Niki Arabadjiev,
Ogi, po-kqsno i grupata 'Nirvana' v koyato svireshe Misho, po-setneshen
pianist v Nova Generaciya i nastoyash emigrant v Kanada, kakto i Orlin,
po-setneshen barabanist na 'Impuls'). Ot muzikalnoto idva i Milena Slavova,
izvestna poveche kato Milena. V Matematicheskata gimnaziya sqshto imashe
dobri muzikanti Vaso Gyurov (po setne basist na Milena), Tomi (po-setne
keyboard na "Testament" ili kakto se prekrqsti "Milenium") i drugi.
Sqshtestvuvaha i neutralni grupi, koito svireha po chitalishta, mazeta
i tavani. Grupa , za koyato se seshtam v momenta beshe 'Tornado", s Juji
- bas, Ivan Peshev - barabani i Galin Popov - kitara. Postepenno muzikantite
pochnaha da se sqbirat na 'Kravay" i po-kqsno na Sinyoto kafe. Krqchmarskite
muzikanti pqk, mejdu koito imashe mnogo kadqrnni momcheta , koito po-kqsno
se 'vqrnaha' v roka , se sqbiraha na 'Kristal'.
Kqm sredata na 80-tte po starite muzikanti zapochnaha da vlizat v kazarmata
i beshe prekqsnat procesqt na 'vtasvane' na tova bogato testo ot koeto
vposledstvie se rodiha 'novite' bqlgarski rok grupi.
Po tova vreme se poyavi i izvestnata country grupa 'Atlas', s pevica
Rosica Kirilova i kitarist Pepi Pisarski. Podvizavaha se i edinichni dobri
i talantlivi muzikanti, kato Niki Tankov, Bojo Glavev, Pavkata Vasev,
Joro Donkov i mnogo drugi.
Estestveno gornite fakti sa dosta razpokqsani i veroyatno dosta netochni,
zashtoto baya voda izteche ot tezi vremena i spomenite postepenno izblednyavat.
Izvinyavam se za eventualnite netochnosti i molya ako ima zabelejki,
utochneniya i dopqlneniya, da bqdat izlojeni.
V sledvashta publikaciya shte razgledam perioda mejdu sredata na 80-tte i
nachaloto na 90-tte, nay-plodotvorniya period za nashata rok-muzika.
13-9 Bulgarian Music
(by Zdravena Maldjieva)
The professional development of Bulgarian Music started relatively
late, compared to other European cultures - around 1860. The first
artists working in that field organised groups, performing their own
arrangements of folk melodies, usually for an a'cappella choir. The
most significant contributions to Bulgarian music began after 1900.
Although disputable, the following classification is the most used by
musicologists today: first generation (till 1944), second generation
-approximately till 1970, third generation - after 1970. There are
three basic types of musicians representative of the Bulgarian culture:
composers, performers and folk musicians ( usually they are combining
the creation and the reproducement of original music, based on folk
The first major figure among the composers in the first generation
is the "Patriarch (title of an important position in the Ortodox Church,
equivalent of the Pope in Roman Catholic Church) of Music" Dobri Chris
tov. He was also the first theorist of the Bulgarian Musicology. As all
major musicians from the first generation he was educated abroad.
Although he was a student of French composer Paul Duka, he didn't adopt
his relatively contemporary techniques and musical language, but mostly
worked in arranging folk tunes for choirs with more or less "classic"
harmony and structure. Despite the simplicity of his art, he was a very
influential teacher for younger musicians. Around 1920 - 40 there
were some composers, who created more sophisticated art as Veselin and
Andrei Stoyanov, Pancho Vladigerov, Lubomir Pipkov and others. The
brothers V. and A. Stoyanov worked in a folk-like style, using irregular
meters, typical melodic configurations and quart-quint harmonies.
Andrei Stoyanov was mostly occupied with piano literature, while Veselin
worked in all major genres. A very important figure was Dimitar Nenov,
a composer and a virtuoso piano player (like Andrei Stoyanov), who was
accused of formalism and bad influence on young communist musicians after
1944. Unlike the other major composers of this time Pancho Vladigerov
didn't use any original folk melodies and rarely used folk-type tunes.
A Bulgarian Jew, born and educated in Switzerland, he adopted the impres-
sionist style, typical for a significant part of the Western European
music. He was the most internationally recognised Bulgarian composer,
for example Herbert von Karajan performed Vladigerov's third piano
concerto on his graduation recital.
That period was productive and successful for performers as well.
With the support and financial help from the monarchist institution and
specially Tsar (king) Boris III many opera houses were established.
The opera art became really popular and Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna were
cities with internationally famous opera houses and opera stars. In the
bigger cities were gathered first professional orchestras with very high
quality of the participants. People enjoyed performances by worldly
famous virtuosi like Sasha Popov and Nikola Kozarev.
The folk music in that period didn't involve professional musicians
and was performed in smaller places mainly, but it never lost its po-
The beginning of the second period (second generation) was the
Soviet invasion and the so-called "revolution" in Bulgaria. The new
government quickly established their new ideology, which was believed
to be progressive and basically was denying everything, achieved before,
because of its connection with the monarchy. Very harmful for all
musicians, that period was crucial for composers. Some genres were cla
imed to be retrogressive, while others (like oratorio) to be new and
purifying for people. The best composers remain silent for the first decade
of that period. There are some exceptions. For example, Lubomir Pipkov
who was a talented and educated musician was "oriented" quickly and star
ted the foundation of the socialistic realism music. He worked mainly
in vocal music, operas and oratorios with text, suitable for the new
authorities. For other composers, who weren't that adaptive, began a
hard period. The communist party, following the example of Russian
Communist party, started to determine the rules for "good, valuable"
art and labeled with formalism everything more contemporary, than it
was believed to match the new soul of people ( In Russia - the opera
"Lady Macbeth from Mtsenskaia Gubernia" from Schostakovich). In
Bulgaria started a real autodafe for the "enemies" of the people. The
scores and records from the Sofia Radio were burned and many other
library collections were destroyed. Priceless works like D.Nenov's
"Spring" and Lazar Nikolov's Second Symphony are lost forever. Nenov
was fired from the Music Academy and died soon after that. Nikolov
was forbidden to be performed, Vladigerov and V.Stoyanov didn't create
anything of global importance any more. New composers started to work
and to write hymns for the party, all new holidays and communist Cong-
resses. In the same time, composers like Parashkev Hadjiev and Vasil
Kazandjiev tried to keep as neutral as possible and wrote music based
on ancient legends or old Bulgarian history.
Performers from that period were mostly working abroad. Very
talanted singers - Boris Christov, Nikolai Ghiaurov, Christina Morfova
and many others transferred to major European theaters and performed
only occasionally in Bulgaria, which was a reason for the decline
of the opera houses. Some virtuosi piano players like Vaisenberg and
Milcho Leviev also left the country. Major conductors like Dobrin
Petkov were neglected for other (faithful to the party conductors) like
Folk music was believed to be close to the real virtues of the
communists, unlike the expressionistic or minimalistic art. Folk ensembles
were in development. One of the most important musicians working in
arranging of folk melodies was Philip Kutev. This groups had a big
importance for the acceptance of the Bulgarian culture abroad. Still
they are among the most popular Bulgarian artists in Europe and America.
Around 1970 and later was born a new generation of Bulgarian musici
ans. People got tired of being ruled in their art views and some
composers like Tsenko Minkin and Stefan Dragostinov started to create
a more liberated and free art, close to the modern Western European
tendencies. Both composers won international prizes for their works.
Recently after the collapse of the communist party, the composers felt
free to experiment with the modern musical means.
Some young performers like Aleksandrina Pendanchanska, Josif Radi-
onov, Angel Stankov, Emil Naumov and others gained the recognition of
The folk music continued to spread abroad and now cd's like "The
Mystery of Bulgarian Voices" are in the top charts of many record
The new period was also the establishment and development of Bulga
rian Pop music. Now there are artists working in many styles, like
hard rock, heavy metal, rap, funk and other.
The overall tendency is of development and progress again, after
big decline through the communist era in all genres and styles.
CHAPTER 14: LITERATURE
14-1 Bulgarian Literary Archive
(by Dragomir R. Radev), last updated: 03-Jan-1997
The Bulgarian Literary archive contains about 200 poems and other literary
materials. It is accessible from
14-2 Address of Hemus Publishing Co.
(by Teodora Davidova), last updated: 01-Jan-1994
You can send a fax with your questions concerning Bulgarian books and peridicals about folk Music and Bulgarian culture to:
1b "Raiko Daskalov" Sq.