28 Dec 2015

Bulgarian documentary film of the twenty-first century

01 August, 2014 – 01 August, 2017

Author: Assoc. Prof. Dimiter Kabaivanov, PhD, Screen Arts Department

Bulgarian post-totalitarian film has been studied just partially. We are in want of a comprehensive scientific understanding of the processes, which would comprise various types of films, especially documentaries.
Documentary film is a functional art, which is usually, to a certain degree, an opposition to or apologetic about the regime (political, social and ideological) of the time when a documentary has been made. Recently, with yet another economic crisis (not to mention the global ideological ‘vacuum’), documentary film is increasingly oriented towards a publicistic mode of expression, where the ‘classical’ proportions between the amount of material under consideration and its forms of representation are freely disrupted.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, the situation in our documentary film is barely observable, inconsistent and quite discordant. The trends running in parallel with each other have become so erratic and multivariate, that the progress of documentary film is evidenced solely by the establishing themselves authorial systems and directorial ‘worlds’. Maturity of documentary film already establishes itself simultaneously with the authorial determination, which is a result of the increasing right of directors to shape the problematic content of their works. That is why contemporary documentary film documents both the flow of time and authorial thinking of the filmmakers, a thinking determined by reality and equally indicative of the reality and of its objective signs.
The latest documentaries will be explored in the context of the overall development of Bulgaria’s documentary film including the changed accents and trends in different periods. The works will be treated and analysed from various vantage points. Both the changes in the spatio-temporal model of Bulgarian documentary film and their development and the scope of the conflicts, characters and general conclusions will be examined in detail.
The works will be examined not isolated and in their own right, but placed in the general political and socio-cultural context of the life in this country. Moreover, particular attention will be given to the ‘identification of their recipients’ and the way they are perceived by viewers.

The proposed project continues and deepens the study of an earlier project of mine: Some characterological developments in Bulgaria’s documentary film over the last decade (twentieth century). This one will be a practical follow-up to my previous theoretical studies and could be published in a book (intended for students in film studies and other film disciplines and filmmakers and professionals). At the same time a number of the aspects of the study could arouse a keener interest as they relate not only to the problems of contemporary culture and film, but also to the aesthetic and psychological problems of contemporary society.