It is always interesting to discover a new movie and new cinematography. Bulgarian cinematography isn’t very rich, but it has several remarkable achievements that need to be mentioned.
Their modern cinema is very versatile, from comedies, through crimes to dramas, everyone can find something for themselves. Hopefully, it will continue flourishing and until some of their future stories, let’s have a look at the ten best Bulgarian movies of all time.
The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner (2008)
This sad, but inspirational drama follows a young Bulgarian boy named Alex who loses his memory after a car accident. He can’t even remember his name and in an attempt to cure him of amnesia, his grandad comes to Germany and decides to take him on a spiritual journey into his past to help him remember.
He takes him back to his homeland and during this journey, through half of Europe, they play backgammon, a simple game which will help Alex figure out who he is. This game is very important for this story and it brings a lot of symbolism for Alex and the movie itself.
The Goat Horn (1972)
This movie will take us far back into the past, to the 17th century Bulgaria during the Ottoman Empire. Shepherd Karaivan’s greatest nightmare becomes reality when one evening a group of vandals breaks into his house and rapes and kills his wife in front of his little daughter. He decides to take justice into his hands, burh the house and takes his daughter to a hut deep in the mountains.
He decides to raise Maria as a boy and trains her to fight and kill so she can avenge her mother when the time comes. They manage to liquidate some of the perpetrators, but before killing the last one, Maria witnesses a love scene that will change her entirely. She will start embracing her feminine side and fall in love with a young shepherd. But when her father finds out what is going on, it might already be too late.
This excellent drama takes place in the 1960s, the era of Revolution and Beatlemania and the hippie movement all around the West. But at the same time, pupils in Bulgaria are forced to wear uniforms and sing military songs. But some of them decide it is time to change something.
They begin to behave differently, more openly, leaving behind them everything fake and trying to be more honest and open-minded. They simply want to be part of a bigger, more artistic world, but, unfortunately, some of them will pay a high price for this misdemeanour.
This drama deals with difficult, but actual topics such as corruption, class differences and the division between the urban and rural modern-day Bulgaria. It is a story of a Bulgarian railway trackman who finds millions of cash on the tracks and decides to return them to the police.
The head of PR of the Ministry of Transport uses this situation to cast aside a brewing corruption scandal and praises Tsanko as a national hero. He isn’t satisfied with the course of the events and eventually goes to the press and exposes everything about the scandal. But the PR won’t allow it and soon she arranges it for Tsanko to be framed for a crime he didn’t commit.
King For a Day (1983)
Purko is a poor pheasant with many children who lives in a Bulgarian village in the 1930s. His neighbours ock at him, his wife doesn’t appreciate him and he is often cheated at the market. He dreams of being a gentleman and somehow getting out of the poverty he is surrounded with. The only thing that keeps him going is his talent for playing the clarinet.
One day he meets an elegant couple from town who promises him prosperity if he puts his house under a mortgage and invests his money in their business. This movie was a huge hit in the 1980s, together with The Double and Dangerous Charm and the performance by the main actor received a lot of critical claims.
Footsteps in the Sand (2010)
In this movie, we follow the story of a young man Slavi who is telling it to a customs officer at the airport. He talks about his love for Nelly who abandons him after falling in love with another guy. He takes up drinking and gets in trouble with the Bulgarian militia. This is when he decides to move from Bulgaria and find happiness in the West.
After a refugee camp in Austria, he leaves for the United States where he begins a new life. But he returns to Bulgaria eventually and finds out that Nelly lives alone with her daughter. Soon he meets her.
This mystery crime drama is about Moth who gets out of prison after spending more than 15 years inside, being wrongfully accused of murder. He was jailed shortly before 1944 and now he finds himself in a completely new world, the totalitarian Sofia of the 1960s.
On his first night of freedom, he enters the dangerous city of various intriguing characters, bleak and gloomy streets and decaying neighbourhoods and very soon adapts to this new situation he found himself in. This movie is an interesting view of the Bulgarian system in the 60s and it combines neo-noir with dark comedy.
A Nameless Band (1981)
This movie describes the life of young generations in the 1970s and 1980s Bulgaria. It talks about dreams and reality, friendship, love and something else. Five friends form a band with dreams of performing in a seaside resort during the holiday season. They receive help from the director of the place they usually perform but under two conditions.
After they accept everything, they finally arrive at the resort and realise that it was a big scheme and that the director fooled them. They decide to rely on their talent and set out to perform wherever they can. They will soon learn that their friendship is much more important than all the fame and that they rely on each other whenever they want.
Mission London (2010)
This comedy takes us to London, to the Bulgarian Embassy where a concert to celebrate Bulgaria entering the EU is being planned. Varadin, the new ambassador must take care that the Queen arrives. But nothing will go as planned.
Various different problems are going to arise before everything functions in the end. Corrupt staff, criminals operating out of the kitchen, a stripper who will cause more trouble than she should have and a misunderstanding with a certain PR firm will make this night a living hell.
Dangerous Charm (1984)
The main protagonist of this movie is a well educated and charming man who in reality is nothing but a swindler who robs naive women. This man cheats on everyone, he constantly changes his name, stages his own death and travels from town to town.
He lives for adventure and adrenaline, but behind all that lies the real reason. He just wants his life to be more interesting since he is nothing but an amiable swindler and an unrealised, unsuccessful actor.