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Bulgaria’s answer to Disney

Bulgaria’s answer to Disney

Plus, a dystopian cold-war thriller and a rags-to-riches story of one of the world’s greatest ballet dancers

Plus, a dystopian cold-war thriller and a rags-to-riches story of one of the world’s greatest ballet dancers

February/March 2019

First bite
Many young Bulgarians grew up watching Disney films. Now a production company is trying to re-awaken interest in Bulgaria’s own fairy tales with “Zlatnata Yabalka” (“The Golden Apple”, above). The show introduces viewers to Vihra, a teen girl embarking on a quest to save the world. Accompanied by a young samodiva – a water nymph – and two brave, sometimes goofy warriors, she sets out in search of a golden apple that has the power to grant wishes.

Steeped in Balkan mythology and folklore, “The Golden Apple” (below) has enchanted audiences. Tickets to view the much-anticipated first episode, which became available in November, ran out within hours.

Alternative facts
It is 2003. Al Gore is the president of the United States and Poland is commemorating the 20th anniversary of the March 12th bombings, a terrorist attack whose shadowy circumstances consolidated the communist government’s grip on power. This dystopian universe is the setting for “1983”, a thriller from Netflix, that follows a student and detective as they uncover the conspiracy that crushed the liberal resistance’s dreams of political freedom. For its first Polish-language original series, Netflix tapped local talent Agnieszka Holland, an Oscar-nominated director best known internationally for her work on “House of Cards”. But her alt-take on the cold war has been criticised by many in Poland who claim that the show is a sly indictment of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, which has conservative, hardline policies that echo the communist regime’s excesses.

Forget me not
Most dictatorships end in revolution; Spain’s transition to democracy was unusually smooth. The sweeping amnesty for crimes committed during Franco’s regime helped. But the desire for retrospective justice is growing. A new documentary, “El Silencio de Otros” (“The Silence of Others”), follows a group of victims who are sidestepping the amnesty by seeking justice under international law. An Argentine judge has taken the case for the lawsuit at the centre of the documentary. At its heart is the testimony of survivors such as José María Galante, who lives on the same street as the man who tortured him in prison, and María Martín, an old woman who knows her mother’s bones are in a mass grave under a motorway but is powerless to retrieve them.

All the right moves
“Yuli”, a film that tells the rags-to-riches story of Carlos Acosta, perhaps the greatest male ballet dancer of his generation, is a hit in Cuba, where audiences have given it standing ovations. Acosta, the son of a truck driver, wanted to be a footballer but his father decided instead to send him to ballet school to “keep him out of trouble”. It worked. Stunning his teachers with his athleticism and grace, and defying prejudice against black dancers, Acosta managed to leave Cuba and join the Royal Ballet in London, where he made his name. Acosta stars and dances in the part-fictionalised film, which features original choreographies performed by his own ballet company.