OSA | Visions after the Fall: Program

Visions after the Fall: Museums, Archives and Cinema in Reshaping Popular Perceptions of the Socialist Past

Zlatina Rousseva: 'Big' and 'Small' Histories Through the 'Rules' of Filmmaking. Reflections on the Uses of Footage, Documentaries, and Archives of the Communist Time.

"I have to write: The most important things are the details.
The historians will look after the writing of the great history,
but only the details and the little daily facts really translate
what's going on and the horror that we are living"
Zinaida Gyppius, diary 1914-1918.

The presentation will address the issues which I had to reflect upon while doing the research in the Bulgarian and the Soviet archives for the making of two movies: "Portrait of a man in power" about the ex-dictator, Todor Zhivkov, and "the secret diary of Zinaida Gyppius" about the events of 1917-1918 in Russia. The trial of Todor Zhivkov provided an occasion to go back in time and rethink an entire era. The issues addressed in this film were fear and manipulation, the mechanisms that turned this man into an obedient and successful 'guardian' of the regime. The film features both informants and victims, uncovering a perfect system of rumors, denunciations, fear, and surveillance by the security services. The role of Todor Zhivkov himself is re-examined by looking behind his mask as a "man of the people," which over the years gradually revealed a superb manipulator, who controlled the whole system personally and who, thanks to his skilfully perfected ability as a "puppet-master," managed to stay in power for 35 years.

Zlatina Russeva is an experienced documentary filmmaker. She is a graduate of the National Institute of Theatrical Studies "Krastyu Sarafov" (NATFA), specializing in cinema and television directing. The films which she made in Bulgaria caused huge reactions from the authorities and were seen as an attempt to undermine the "beautiful" socialist reality. Her film Century or a Day by chance managed to cross Bulgaria's borders and won a number of international prizes at festivals in Spain, Germany and Poland. Since 1986 she lives and works in Brussels. She established a film production company, "Good and Bad News" which works with the Belgian and French television channels, humanitarian organizations such as "Medicins sans frontieres" and "Solidar". Her films, Death in Bali, At Night the Fish are Red, Portrait of a man in power, Forgotten by the War, Green Oranges of Liberia, Street Theatre have been presented at many international festivals and have been shown on Belgian, French, Swiss, German, British, Brazilian and other national television companies. The theme of memory, preservation of real values in situations of crisis lies at the basis of her work.

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Date: June 11, Sunday

Time: 9.30-10 am



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