This year, the 35th edition of Golden Rose Bulgarian Feature Film Festival is held in Varna.
It all goes back to the summer of 1961. The first edition featured fiction, documentary, science documentary and animated films. The watchwords back then were National Filmmaking for Peace and Socialism. The festival was held in the heat of the summer running from 31 July until 9 August and enjoyed huge success: 17,300 spectators on a daily basis. The screenings were held at the newly constructed Republika outdoor cinema, where now the Festival and Congress Center is located. The picture house seated 1,100 and had a large 12m-wide screen, boasting the then state-of-the-art CinemaScope. Part of the festival programme was presented at the unfinished Lenin outdoor cinema as well as at the outdoor cinemas Zlatni Piasutsi, Dimiter Blagoev, Kultura, Balkanturist in Druzhba resort (now SS Constantine and Helen Oxford) and Purvi Mai in Asparuhovo residential area.
The festival gala nights of Golden Rose 1962 ran from 12 until 22 July at the renovated Lenin outdoor cinema seating 1,500. Ten films were competing, which was that year’s crop of movies. The event drew a total of 140,000 viewers. A practice was established back them of massive involvement of sponsors as defined presently by organizers of cultural events. The gala nights were held under the auspices of Varna-based big plants and factories such as Georgi Dimitrov Shipbuilding and Shiprepair Yard; Yanko Kostov Cannery; Elprom; Vasil Kolarov State-owned Engineering Plant; Karl Marx Soda Ash Plant; Druzhba State-owned Industrial Enterprise, etc. Filmmaking crews would meet with the workers to discuss the picture screened the previous night.
With the completion in 1968 of the Palace of Culture and Sports, the programme of Golden Rose was presented in a hall with a screen unseen by then in this county. Golden Rose was then held in October being not just a summer entertainment for holidaymakers but rather an art venue for directors, writers, artists, actors, producers, arts administrators… On festival nights, the Congress Hall was packed to capacity with more than 5,000 enthusiastic viewers.
Until 1971, Golden Rose was an annual event of Bulgarian film. In 1974, its scope was reduced to a Festival of Bulgarian Feature Film held on a biennial basis.
Following 1989, the existence of the festival was faced with inevitable challenges. In 1990, due to funding shortages the organizers—the Union of Bulgarian Filmmakers and the Ministry of Culture—were forced to move Golden Rose to Sofia. Both observers and audiences though were categorical that the festival was not same. It was as late as 1994, when enough productions were made for a festival programming. At that point Golden Rose was resumed in Varna at long last.
The opening night gala of Golden Rose 2017 is on 30 September and the festival runs until 7 October showcasing the latest and the best of the internationally acclaimed Bulgarian features.
Follow the latest news at www.2017.zlatnaroza.bg
An article by Dr Lubomir Kutin was incorporated in the above piece.