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UK Restoration Premiere: The Tied Up Balloon (15*) + ScreenTalk

Hidden Figures: Binka Zhelyazkova

Locals run up a hill to catch up to a barrage balloon

In Binka Zhelyazkova’s sharp satire, her best known work, a mysterious barrage balloon appears in the sky over a remote Bulgarian village in WWII, causing wild anxiety in the crazed locals.

The Tied Up Balloon, adapted from Yordan Raditchkov’s novella of the same name, is a satirical look at the Bulgarian psyche, exploring topics of surveillance anxiety and docility under totalitarian rule. Drawing from Raditchkov’s literary style, Binka Zhelyazkova’s now most celebrated feature ventures into the realms of magic realism and the surreal.

The film initially premiered at the Expo 67 in Montreal where, in the words of Bulgarian dissident writer Georgi Markov, the film was sent “by mistake.” Shortly before its screening at the Venice Film Festival, it was banned by the Bulgarian government for allegedly ridiculing the regime and its leader. The state subsequently pulled the film out of Venice and “arrested” it for the next 22 years.

After the fall of Bulgaria’s Communist regime in 1989, the film was allowed to screen again.

Bulgaria 1967 dir Binka Zhelyazkova 98 min


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