The fundamental questions of human life about guilt, repentance, and redemption are addressed in the two-fold documentary essay delving into the grief of the women from Sliven Prison who give birth to their children behind bars. Binka Zhelyazkova anatomizes a deep collective trauma through the unique stories of her heroines. The film wasn’t screened in the theaters until 1989, following a series of changes in the country’s social milieu.
- Direction: Binka Zhelyazkova
- Script: Binka Zhelyazkova
- Production: Boyana Film
- Format: DCP
- Color: B/W
- Production Country: Bulgaria
- Production Year: 1982
- Duration: 59'
- Contact: Bulgarian National Film Archive
Binka Zhelyazkova was born on July 15, 1923, in the town of Svilengrad, Bulgaria. She studied theater at the National Theater Institute in Sofia. For a brief time, she also studied theater direction at VGIK, Moscow, with theater professor Lobanov. Upon graduation, she began working as an assistant director at the National Film Studio in Sofia. Her career as a film director began in 1957 when she co-directed her first feature film Life Flows Slowly By… with her husband Hristo Ganev. At the end of the 1950s, Binka Zhelyazkova was one of the few women in the world making feature films. Her career developed during the period of socialist realism in Bulgarian cinema, which demanded the presentation of an idealized image of life as if it were a reality. This was to be done by means of simple plots and positive heroes. But hers was a counter-cinema to the accepted socialist realism, often challenging the restrictive rules set by the Communist ideological machine. Binka Zhelyazkova’s style was influenced by Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave, as well as Russian Cinema. The poetic and metaphoric imagery of her films often prompted critics to compare her to Fellini and Tarkovski. During her career, she directed seven feature films and two documentaries. Four of her nine films were banned from distribution and reached audiences only after the end of communism. She was the director of the Bulgarian section of Women in Film, an organization created in 1989 after the international women in film conference, KIWI, in Tbilisi, Georgia. She stopped making films after 1989, which coincided with the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria. For some time after that, she remained active in the women in film organization but soon completely withdrew from public life.
1957 Zivotat si teche tiho| Life Flows Slowly By...
1961 A biahme mladi | We Were Young
1967 Privarzanijat Balon | The Tied-Up Balloon
1973 Poslednata duma | The Last Word
1977 Baseinat | The Swimming Pool
1980 Goliamoto noshtno kapane | The Big Night Bathe
1982 Nani-na | Lullaby (doc)
1982 Litse i opako | The Bright and Dark Side of Things (doc)
1988 Noshtem po pokrivite | On the Roofs at Night (TV)