Harriman Institute

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Directions – Film Screening & Discussion

This event was held virtually as a Zoom webinar and streamed via YouTube Live.

Registrants will receive a link to independently view the film prior to the live event.

The East Central European Center at the Harriman Institute presents its 2020-2021 film series: Contemporary Society and Its Discontents, a series of screenings and discussions of films from the past five years that comment on various aspects of contemporary life in East Central Europe. This event features a virtual screening of the 2017 Bulgarian film Directions (Posoki) and a discussion with director Stephan Komandarev in conversation with Rossen Djagalov(New York University) and ECEC co-directors Aleksandar Bošković and Christopher Harwood.

Directions is a road movie set in present day Bulgaria, a country that remains optimistic, mainly because all the realists and pessimists have left.

At a meeting with his banker, a small business owner who drives a taxi to make ends meet, discovers that the bribe he will have to pay to get a loan has doubled. He wants to remain an honest man. The ethics board that reviewed his complaint about extortion now also wants its share of the action. In desperate anger, he shoots the banker and then himself. The incident sparks a major national debate on talk radio about how despair has taken over civil society. Meanwhile, five taxi drivers and their passengers move through the night, each in hope of finding a brighter way forward—a new direction.

Stephan Komandarev is a Bulgarian director, producer, and scriptwriter. He has a number of award-wining fiction and documentary films, including: ROUNDS (2019; premiered at Sarajevo FF; Best Actress, Cineuropa; winner of 13 awards from international film festivals), DIRECTIONS (POSOKI) (2017; premiered at Cannes; winner of 12 awards from international festivals), THE WORLD IS BIG AND SALVATION LURKS AROUND THE CORNER (2008; the first Bulgarian film to be shortlisted for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film; winner of 35 awards from international festivals), THE JUDGMENT (2014; winner of 12 awards, including Best Bulgarian Feature Film at Golden Rose Film Festival 2014, Bulgarian entry for Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film 2016), OCCUPATION 1968 (2018, documentary), THE TOWN OF BADANTE WOMEN (2009, documentary), ALPHABET OF HOPE (2003, documentary), BREAD OVER THE FENCE (2002, documentary), DOG’S HOME (1999). He is a 2011 European Audiovisual Entrepreneurs (EAVE) graduate and Member of the Bulgarian Film Directors’ Association and Bulgarian Film Producers’ Association, as well as the European Film Academy.

Rossen Djagalov is an Assistant Professor of Russian at New York University. His interests lie in socialist culture globally and, more specifically, in the linkages between cultural producers and audiences in the USSR and abroad. His forthcoming manuscript, “Premature Postcolonialists: Soviet-Third-World Literary and Cinematic Encounters in the Age of Three Worlds” reconstructs the Soviet genealogy of postcolonial literature, film, and ultimately, theory. His second book project, “The People’s Republic of Letters: Towards a Media History of Twentieth-Century Socialist Internationalism,” examines the relationship between the political left and the different media (proletarian novel, singer-songwriter performance, political documentary film) that at different times played a major role in connecting its publics globally. He is a member of the editorial collective of LeftEast.

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