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Filmmaker Adela Peeva: The voice of female film directors must be heard

БНР Новини

Do you know how many women have won an Oscar for best director? At this time, just one – Kathryn Bigelow for her film The Hurt Locker. And how many have won a Palme d’Or? Again – just one – Jane Campion for her The Piano.

Where do we stand? If we take a look at our own back yard, the picture is not all that different. There are only three ladies to have ever received a Golden Rose award. The first is Binka Zhelyazkova for We Were Young in 1961. Forty-three whole years later Zornitsa Sofia grabbed the prize for her Mila from Mars; the award was shared with Stanimir Trifonov for his film Burning Out. Milena Andonova received the award in 2006 for her Monkeys in Winter.

An analysis by the European Audiovisual Observatory shows that out of 15,600 films created in the 1996-2012 period, a little under 18 percent were directed by women. A percentage that is far too low. That is why prominent Bulgarian film director and producer Adela Peeva, holder of prestigious national and international awards decided to showcase women’s contribution to feature film making in Bulgaria.

СнимкаWomen are part of society and if their voice is not heard distinctly enough, that is a problem and society itself is deprived of its cultural diversity. And cultural diversity is essential.

The impulse came from the Federation of European Film Directors (FERA). It was there that Adela Peeva first heard discussions of gender inequality in film directing.

I couldn’t believe that it was the same thing in Bulgaria, but when I came back I did a cursory inquiry, Adela Peeva says. And it was evident the problem existed in this country as well. In any case, it is a wake-up call to society. I think an expert analysis should be made and the matter should be put to discussion. And possibly, steps taken to restore the balance. The voice of women film directors should definitely be heard loud and clear – in their work, the films they make, not just in the interviews they give.

So it came about that Adela Peeva came up with the idea of a specialized website jeni-bg-kino.com. The website was presented at Sofia City Hall, the event being attended by Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova, Malina Edreva, chair of the Sofia Municipality Education and Culture Commission and Bulgarian film directors.

We demonstrated the website and had an interesting discussion afterwards – that it presents facts unknown to the public that should be popularized. The website presents 29 female film directors of all generations – from the pioneers of Bulgarian feature films to the youngest who have just made their debut or are still working on their first movie. (The criterion being for each one of them to have at least one feature-length film). We showed an interview with Irina Aktasheva – the film director who, together with her husband Hristo Piskov, made Avalanche. It was really powerful and candid, as are the interviews with all other women. They talk about themselves, about their work, what they believe in, their view of life, the difficulties they encounter, about what it means to be a woman in film-making. And they openly state that women are not represented sufficiently in Bulgarian film-making. But what matters most is for people to know about our films and for women to be given an opportunity to make more movies. This website aims to popularize the work of women film directors and to make more films available to the public. That is, in fact, the most important thing – that Bulgarian films are watched.

And one more thing – the website has links to the films made by female directors in an endeavor to help their movies reach out to more people.

English version: Milena Daynova

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