Logline


The film "The Beast is still alive" hits at the core of contemporary European politics and why the left idea based on the works of Carl Marx is so trendy nowadays. Bulgaria is this part of Europe which is currently so behind exactly because it hasn't dealt with consequences of Communism and the collapse of the left idea. Yet nobody knows that exactly here the biggest anti-Communist movement started in 1948 and it lasted nearly 10 years. Our film has already created a big fuss in Bulgaria because it has named the exact former Communist agents who had refused to let the country be governed democratically in the last 26 years and are still in power.


It is awarded with IDFA FORUM AWARD 2015 and it's part of the work-in-progress forum LAST STOP TRIESTE 2016. The film is financed by Creative Europe Programme – MEDIA, the Bulgarian National Film Centre and it's a co-production with the Bulgarian National Television and Nova Film.



Synopsis


A young Bulgarian digs out her dead granddad secret police file to unravel the past and find the answer why had the Socialist idea failed. She is fed up with the hypocrisy of modern Bulgarian Socialists, who continuously advocate a social well fare system, while driving her country to catastrophe in the last 25 years. At the same time, the Socialist idea abroad has moved on. Like most of Bulgaria's youth, banished into exile, she found a living in London – the city her granddad adored but never visited.

The granddad, a philosopher and an anglophile had sympathized with the Socialist idea in the early 1920's but later on, seeing the damage of the left propaganda in 1944, he had fled to the mountains to join massive opposition movement called “goriani”.

In a semi-mystic dialogue with him, visualized with fanciful animated sequences she restores the collective memory of generations so far apart.



Directors' statement

The film "The Beast is still alive" hits at the core of contemporary European politics and why the left idea based on the works of Carl Marx is so trendy nowadays. Bulgaria is this part of Europe, which is currently so behind exactly because it hasn't dealt with consequences of Communism and the collapse of the left idea. Bulgarian population vanishes in emigration and the lack of faith in normality is ever so present. This state of affairs is largely caused by the criminal and corrupt totalitarian system from our recent past that is, unfortunately, closely associated with the idea of Socialism. To quote the popular left philosopher Slavoj Zizek: “Critical intellectual should demonstrate how the distortion of a noble idea, its falsification, its misinterpretation is grounded in the idea itself.”


A young Bulgarian sets on a journey of fresh discovery and re-discovery of the idea on philosophical, emotional and personal level. As a main base of knowledge and a starting point she uses the written archives of her diseased grandfather who fought against the regime in an unprecedented anti-Communist movement that lasted for nearly ten years in Bulgarian mountains.


The exchange between her and him is constructed on a semi-mystic dialogue, which enhances the narration and gives interactivity and connection to younger audiences.  


The Granddad was a philosopher himself. He was an Orthodox priest who embraced Socialism in the 1930's but stood up against the Bolshevik invasion of Bulgaria after the World War II. He was forcefully assigned as an agent for the discredited totalitarian machine and thus he could have caused harm to many lives. As it turns out, he was hired to write economical analyses that sound as contemporary as something read in the Guardian or Financial Times nowadays. He was kept in jail as he spoke sharply against Stalin while the monstrous dictator was still alive and commanding politics in the entire East European block.


Thousands of nameless heroes such as the Granddad who gave their lives for the freedom from Communist slavery should replace the cold Communist monuments of our countries. On a recent visit in Bulgaria the Hungarian president Janos Ader declared: “ull ÒWe were not the first against the communist regime in Budapest in 1956. Bulgarian “Goryani” movement was the first one.”


We realized that the post-communist hangover of our society is much deeper than we initially thought. This process is very complex and it needs to be traced at least three generations back thus the grandfather's file provides an invaluable access to information.


Former agents for the badly discredited Secret Services who used to torture and torment people during totalitarian times are still in key government positions in Bulgaria at present. This is what caused the unrest that resulted in lengthy demonstrations throughout the main cities of Bulgaria in 2013.  


Our film has had explosive receival in Bulgaria partly because it has named the exact former Communist agents who had refused to let the country be governed democratically in the last 26 years and are still in power.  We had a smashing premiere at the former Communist headquarters building in March 2016, closing the official programme of Sofia Film Fest:  


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rn6bsd5eR4w


As a film project it was awarded IDFA FORUM AWARD 2015 at the EDP pitch in Prague 2015 and it was part of the work-in-progress forum LAST STOP TRIESTE. We had our International premiere in the documentary competition at the 22d Sarajevo Film Festival (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqsWaLWWPao) followed by the prestigious competition selection at the 32th Warsaw Film Festival where the film was amongst the 15 titles from awarded directors from all over the world.  


The West has accepted the challenging stance of this film and IDFA selected it as part of Panorama section (https://www.idfa.nl/en/film/f1cc47be-5024-44f0-86fb-94be6b427ab4/the-beast-is-still-alive). Followed by the prestigious Goteborg Film Festival this film continues its way around the world.


Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova



Awards & Nominations


IDFA FORUM AWARD 2015 at East Doc Platform in Prague, Czech Republic















Pitched at:

- Sunny Side of the Doc – Best Project Showcase - History;

- ZagrebDox;

- Baltic Sea Forum;

- Robert Bosch Foundation;

- East European Forum;

- East Doc Platform - IDFA Forum Award 2015;

- EDN Docs Thessaloniki;

- Last Stop Trieste 2016.


Supported by:

Creative Europe MEDIA for development

Bulgarian National Film Centre for production

Co-production with:

The Bulgarian National Television and Nova Film


Developed at:

Rough Cut Service – Iikka Vehkalahti