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Hidden Figures: Binka Zhelyazkova

Binka Zhelyazkova behind her camera

Discover the rarely screened films of Binka Zhelyazkova (1923-2011), a pioneer of Bulgarian cinema who was active during the country’s totalitarian years whose films were often censored by the state. 

Zhelyazkova was not only the first female fiction filmmaker in Bulgaria, but also one of the few whose work reached beyond the Iron Curtain in the 1950s. Her strong allegiance with the communist party and the regime’s rigorous aesthetic conventions weaved, persistently, a single thread through all of her films content-wise, while the richness of her formalistic approach often pierced the surface of the then-required social(ist) aesthetic. Because of her political stance and uncompromising vision, her career was impeded and most of her films banned upon release.

To mark Zhelyazkova’s centenary, this retrospective presents three films which showcase recurring themes from the Bulgarian director’s working years and testify to her hope in a hapless generation in flux and form: through satire, spy thriller tropes, and witty comedic episodes.