OSA | Visions after the Fall: Program

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

Alexander Yanakiev: The Truth? Who Cares?

Where lies the truth about the image of the socialist past – in the "realistic" films of that time or in the works of more recent years? And who, if anybody, cares about it?
Some of my students do not believe their eyes when they watch the "realistic" films of the 50s and 60s. At the same time, productions from the beginning of the 90s in their eyes look like cheap propaganda. The truth sounds like fiction because life at that time was more than absurd.
Much of the reality of those times is incomprehensible today for younger audiences - or at least it is difficult to explain. The " boldness" of some documentary films of the 80s vanished in a couple of days after the fall of the Wall. The electronic media and the press started openly to discuss things that earlier were only hinted.
The use of secret archive material – for example from the prosecutions of Nikola Petrov and Traicho Kostov - did not shed much light because they were quite "semi-official". Up to now the Bulgarian documentary cinema has found and used very few "unofficial" materials. But some films and TV programs manage to use some of the well-known film chronicles of the epoch quite successfully. One example was the "Monday 8 1/2" programs which preceded the broadcasting of Bulgarian feature films on national television.
The cinema after the changes sought the "shock effect" and often pursued it by resorting to stereotype solutions, but presented in reverse.
Some authors drastically changed their position. For example in 1986 the director Kiran Kolarov presented the "legend" about the party and state leader Todo Zhivkov with great pathos – in the film "They Prevailed" while in 1991 he proclaims "I Want America" – in a film about our ruined life in the years of socialism.
It is only with great difficulty that both artists and audiences can find a balance in presenting and perceiving the truth about the socialist past in Eastern Europe.

Alexander Yanakiev: film historian and critic, director of the Institute of Art Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Head of its Department of Cinema and TV. Dr. Yanakiev is also owner and publisher of Titra publishing house and publisher and editor-in-chief of Internet magazine Cinema.bg. He is also a member of several Bulgraian and International Cinematographic associations, including the Union of the Bulgarian Filmmakers, where he is chair of Critics guild (since 2002), Union of the Bulgarian Journalists, The Bulgarian Studies Association (USA.) Since 2004 Dr. Yanakiev is a deputy chairman of Bulgrai's National Cinema Council. He has been part of selection committees and jury member of numerous film festivals, including, most recently, the International Television Festival "Golden Chest", in Plovdiv, the 5th European Cinema Festival, Lecce (Italy), the International Film Festival, Thesalloniki (Greece) and others.

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Date: June 11, Sunday

Time: 10-10.30 am



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