The Last Word

Oslednata Duma

Greek Premiere

Α controversial and dynamic film that shows the last days of six women who are political prisoners. As they await the execution of their death penalties, the film focuses on human deeds under extreme circumstances. In this poetic film, shown through the perspective of the anti-fascist resistance in the director’s country during World War II, a baby is born, takes its first steps, the fire dance is performed according to Bulgarian tradition, and flowers are drawn on the walls of the cell. In the end, there is a sense of a symbolic victory over the forces of the dark, as if commemorating the ideal heroes of human history such as Joan of Arc. More than its nomination for the Palme d’Or in the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, the film’s true value lies in the fact that, although they are prisoners, all the characters are women.

Screening Schedule

No scheduled screenings.


Direction: Binka Zhelyazkova
Script: Binka Zhelyazkova, Stefan Canev
Cinematography: Boris Yanakiev
Editing: Madlena Dyakova
Sound: Kuzman Shopov
Music: Simeon Pironkov
Actors: Tzvetana Maneva, Dorotea Toncheva, Bella Tsoneva, Aneta Petrovska, Emilia Radeva, Leda Taseva, Maria Tatoulova, Zlatina Todeva, Anya Pencheva, Nikolai Binev
Production: Boyana Film
Costumes: Iskra Licheva
Production Design: Iskra Licheva, Zahari Savov
Sets: Zahari Savov
Format: DCP
Color: Color
Production Country: Bulgaria
Production Year: 1973
Duration: 96'
Contact: Bulgarian National Film Archive

Binka Zhelyaskova

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.

Filmography

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)