Today, January 13, we celebrate the Day of Bulgarian Cinema and the professional holiday of everyone involved in film production in Bulgaria. The date is related to the premiere in 1915 of the first Bulgarian feature film entitled “Balgaran e gallant” ("The Bulgarian is a Gallant") by Vasil Gendov, who also played the main role in the film. How "gallant" was the past year 2022 for the cinematic art in Bulgariaand are its creators optimistic about the current one?
The Covid pandemicundoubtedly brought about a pause in the realm of culture, not only in Bulgaria, but also around the world. The closure of theatre halls, movie theatres and the cancellation of a number of events, including festivals and planned film shoots, have given artists the opportunity to stop and get out of the usual tracks of their lives and inspirations. After two very difficult years, which can be defined as zero for Bulgarian cinema, we ended a really successful year, Petar Todorov, director of the National Film Centre Executive Agency, told the BNR. During the year, there were 25 film premieres, "which means that every other Friday we saw a new Bulgarian film":
"650,000 viewers watched Bulgarian productions in cinemas, which is the best achievement for the last 30 years and shows that we are comparable to any European film industry. Of course, for the success of a film, it matters if and how it will reach the public, as well as festivals in Bulgaria and abroad, supporting movie theaters, something that happened last year. In the Agency itself, about 420 projects related to the film industry were considered, it administered nearly BGN 17.2 million, which is also its best result since it was established. We are entering 2023 with the hope of building on what has been done so far," Todorov pointed out.
Among the most watched movie titles for 2022 in cinemas in Bulgaria, there were also two Bulgarian titles - "In the Heart of the Machine" is in sixth place in the ranking, and "Petya of my Petya" is in ninth place. Of course, political uncertainty also affects this segment of culture. In Bulgaria, film production, in its main part, relies on state funding from the National Film Centre, therefore the lack of an adopted new state budget also affects the film industry, noted Todorov. According to director Dragomir Sholev, the situation in the country has a painful effect on creative processes. The author of the film "Fishbone" admits that in Bulgaria a film can be made in 4-5 years, but only if you find private financing. Otherwise, the period may reach 8-10 years.
Despite the difficulties, we must admit that Bulgarian cinema in the last 12 months offered variety, emotions and sparked interest among the native audience. "In the Heart of the Machine" by Martin Makariev, "Women Do Cry" starring Maria Bakalova, whose star also rose in Hollywood, "Yellow Oleander" by director Lachezar Avramov, "Return 2" by Niki Iliev, " φ1.618" - the debut full-length film of the Oscar-nominated Theodore Ushev are just some of the stories that made us smile, feel sad and think in the dark halls.
And the new year begins even more promisingly, as three native cinema premieres are expected in January alone. Starting today, the film "Mother" by the director Zornitsa Sofia, inspired by the true story of the director Elena Panayotova and her journey from the Rhodope village of Shiroka Laka to Kenya, opens in cinemas. We remind you that the title was Bulgaria's proposal for an Oscar nomination in the foreign language film category, but it was dropped from the competition due to the decision of the American Film Academy for non-compliance with technical requirements, namely - nearly three minutes more of English speech than the permissible 50% for "an international film".
On January 20, the long-awaited feature film by Andrey Paounov "January" based on the play by the Bulgarian classic Yordan Radichkov will be released, with the participation of Iossif Sarchadzhiev, Samuel Finzi, Leonid Yovchev, Zachary Baharov. On January 27, the Spanish-Bulgarian co-production "Vasil" by director Avelina Prat, starring Ivan Burnev and with producers Vesela Kazakova and Mina Mileva, will open in cinemas in Bulgaria. In November, the film was released in cinemas in Spain, and a month earlier Burnev was named best actor at the SEMINCI international film festival in Valladolid.
In the coming months, the premiere of Stefan Komandarev's latest film "The Lessons of Goodness" with the participation of the great Bulgarian actress Eli Skorcheva is expected. Just a few days ago, it became clear that the debut feature film of director Tonislav Hristov "The Good Driver" has been selected for the biggest film event in Northern Europe - the international film festival in Gothenburg.
Not only today, but also the entire month of January this year is dedicated to Bulgarian cinema, recalls Petar Todorov. It began on January 1 with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the most significant film directors in Bulgarian history - Valo Radev.
And today, completely free of charge, all lovers of Bulgarian cinema will be able to watch a programme of new feature, documentary and animation titles under the motto "13 films for January 13". The screenings are planned in four metropolitan cinemas and one each in Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo and Varna.
Photos: bacinematographers.org, Facebook/petyaofmypetya, @intheheartofthemachine.movie
Editing by Elena Karkalanova
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