We Were Young

A Biahme Mladi

Greek Premiere

During World War II, by way of covert communication in besieged Sofia, Veska joins a group of teenage anti-fascists. Here she meets Dimo, a handsome, passionate member of the small but ferocious resistance. As the group strives to thwart Nazi advancements in Sofia, romance blossoms between Veska and Dimo. With an ambitious stylistic eye, Zhelyazkova masterfully directs a story of forbidden love and the relentlessness of teenage conviction. Believed to be the first feature film ever directed by a woman in Bulgaria.

Screening Schedule

No scheduled screenings.


Direction: Binka Zhelyaskova
Script: Hristo Ganev
Cinematography: Vasil Holiolchev
Editing: Tsvetana Tomova
Sound: Nikolay Popov
Music: Simeon Pironkov
Actors: Dimitar Buynozov, Rumyana Karabelova, Lyudmila Cheshmedzhieva, Georgi Georgiev-Getz, Emilia Radeva, Anani Yavashev
Production: Boyana Film
Costumes: Nevena Baltova
Production Design: Angela Denadzhieva, Simeon Halachev
Make Up: Kiril Trayanov
Format: DCP
Color: B/W
Production Country: Bulgaria
Production Year: 1961
Duration: 110'
Contact: Svetlana Ganeva

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)