Bulgaria has a rich tradition in cinema and theatre, its talented actors and directors cross-pollenating between the two art forms, creating a vibrant theatre scene throughout the country. Bulgaria’s flagship theatre, the National Theatre, is a glorious neo-classical venue of 750 seats. Other notable Sofia theatres include the Satirical Theatre, Theatre of the Bulgarian Army, Theatre 199, Theatre Sofia and Tear & Laughter Theatre.
The driving forces behind Bulgarian cinema and theatre are, chronologically, Konstantin Kisimov (revolutionized the National Theatre up to the 1960’s), Stefan Surchadjiev and his son Yosif (talented director and film actor), Metodi Andonov (director of seminal film “Koziat rog”), Ivan Andonov (director of “Vchera”) and contemporary director Alexander Morfov (prize-winning director for the National Theatre).
Tyutyun (“Tobacco”) (1962): based on Bulgaria’s best novel, this 1962 adaptation stars Nevena Kokanova. It was presented to critical acclaim at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival. It is a family drama, set in World War II. Three sons are divided when two become Communist sympathisers while the third marries the daughter of a tobacco magnate and inherits the factory. He has a torrid affair with Irina (Nevena Kokanova), a brilliant young woman.
Ricar bez bronia (“Knight Without Armor”) (1965): A view of social ills through the eyes of a 9-year old boy, this film is based on a screenplay by Valeri Petrov. It is touching and stars Apostol Karamitev as the boy’s uncle. “The battle of a child in cardboard armor against the falsehoods and harshness of the grownup world”. Winner of the Silver Lion for best child actor at the Venice Film Festival in 1966. The full film is below with English subtitles.
Koziat Rog (“The Goat Horn”) (1972): Based on a Nikolai Haitov story about a father and daughter in the years of Ottoman dominion, this film is beautiful, poignant, and only features 8 minutes of dialogue. The full film is below with English subtitles.
Vchera (“Yesterday”) (1988): A film about the trials of students in an elite high school in Sofia in the 1960’s. A student’s pregnancy and the unfair class differences in such a school dominate the film until a tragedy cuts everything short. The title song Kletva (“Oath”) from the movie by Bulgarian rock band Shturcite is a classic Bulgarian rock ballad.
Misia London (“Mission: London) (2011): A situational comedy about the Bulgarian ambassador to London attempting to solicit an audience with the Queen of England, but being given the number of a high-end escort agency instead.
Georgi Partsalev – the best of the first generation of cinematic comedic actors, responsible for TV and radio plays as well as movies and TV series.
Apostol Karamitev – a comedic actor of incredible range, starring in some of Bulgaria’s favourite films.
Nevena Kokanova – Bulgaria’s Audrey Hepburn, a beautiful and talented actress.