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1974 – film director Metodi Andonov and his heritage

БНР Новини
Photo: archives

“Love by all means is the most important lesson – love for your children, for art, for life and friends… He received all that love from his family – poor people, who thought he was a most extraordinary person. Hence their eagle-like care. When he said in their small house in the village of Kalishte that he wanted to study French and to go to a French college, they would simply move to an even smaller house in Sofia’s suburbs, the Krasno Selo neighborhood. That was because he wanted to study French. Then he wanted to play the violin – and he did it…” These are the words of his daughters Nevena and Milena Andonov, who lost their father when they were kids. They still try to preserve a feeling of relation with him, untouched by the years. Both women remember him as a man, moving at high speed, always absent and totally devoted to his work, which made him so happy…

Metodi Andonov’s path as a director started with the Adriana Budevska Theatre in the port town of Burgas in a period when Sofia’s elite would opt for the opening nights of the sea harbor. These were glorious times – mid-50s to late 60s, when the famous four – Metodi Andonov, Leon Daniel, Vili Tsankov and Yulia Ognyanova created modern Bulgarian theatre.

“I went to Burgas right after my graduation,” Metodi Andonov said. “I recall now several scenes from that period’s plays – Geratsite, Tchitchovtsi /Uncles/, Po Sledite na Radostta /In the steps of joy/ by Viktor Rozov. I joined Sofia’s Satirical Theatre in 1959. That was the biggest event in my professional life. I love real actors, capable of a real stage life – inspired, devoted, ready for big moments. I don’t like cold and rational actors, no matter how modern they are now…”

This recording of late Metodi Andonov from the Golden Archive of the BNR was made in 1968 – that was when his first movie, Bialata Staia /The White Room/ was released. The director won the Golden Rose award with it in the Varna Film Festival and the Big Prize of the Delhi movie festival. He had already left the Satire Theatre, disappointed, but leaving behind some of the most memorable plays in its history. Friends, family members and actors remember the director as always running. He would think over roles and episodes till the last detail through the night. “He looked like a bow with an arrow always hitting the target – slim, but very strong at the same time,” recalls great actress Tatyana Lolova in her biography. The energy and presence of Metodi Andonov could be felt in all his movies. Four decades after its opening night Koziyat Rog /The Goat Horn/ - a thrilling story on love and violence, remains still as impressive. Bulgaria’s audience welcomed the movie with a triumph, and it got its awards at the film festivals in Varna, Karlovy Vary, Chicago, Santaren… The Goat Horn was the only Bulgarian movie, spotted and proposed for the short list of the Oscars in 1972.

“Contemporary conflict and images come straight from reality in a large number of my plays and movies. I think that even The Goat Horn is somehow related to our epoch. The fact that the audience was so passionate about the movie showed that something about it concerned it a lot. I find it hard to assess the contemporary subject in my own work, but I think this has ever been my only goal…”

Metodi Andonov left this world barely at 42, in 1974 – but even then he was a distinguished artist, professor, director of the Satire Theatre’s hits and of four movies. He had prestigious awards from many film festivals. A Sofia street is named after him, also the chamber hall of his theatre and a community center in his own village. And of course – The Goat Horn that is still watched today reminds constantly of the great director.

English version: Zhivko Stanchev

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