While the left idea conceived by Karl Marx gains popularity around the world, a country from the former Socialist block is torn apart by Communist apparatchiks and informers. 25 years after...
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While the left idea conceived by Karl Marx gains popularity around the world, a country from the former Socialist block is torn apart by Communist apparatchiks and informers. 25 years after the fall of Communism a young Bulgarian opens her Grandad's Secret Service file to unravel the past and find answers to why the Socialist idea had failed so badly in reality. When reading the file entitled "Beast" she realizes that the Red Beast has never left Bulgaria. In a semi-mystic dialogue with her Granddad, visualized with animated sequences she restores the collective memory of generations so far apart.
A portrait of an entire lost generation and their disappointment
It may sound like a phrase, but the truth is that today a lot of balance is forgotten in a movie, and much more if it is a documentary, it seems that being such an "open" genre, anything goes and everything is allowed. The balance is used to stay on the rope, to walk on the heights, to walk with firm foot, but with caution the thin red line that separates us from the standardized. Balance makes us unique to filmmakers, artists and all those who seek the truth of art through form, rather than truth regardless of form.
"The Beast Is Still Alive" is co-directed by Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova, carrying out a great work of documentation that is used in the narration to enrich the documentary plot that starts from an idea as a common thread: the daughter of a political dissident speaks From the afterlife with his daughter, who investigates about his life to try to understand the motivations that led his father to take a tragic turn to his life. This idea works perfectly and links from beginning to end with all the themes exposed by the filmmakers. And it is that we are above all a documentary in the richest sense of documentary expression, which is none other than imagination, rigor, creativity, and respect for the viewer to which, finally, it is destined.
The filmmakers have decided to use the technique of animation, too, by means of very handmade drawings, full of intense red, a red that clearly symbolizes so much blood spilled in an unequal and cruel fight. These drawings that burst out of the narrative, are like tides of blood, red paint turned into the blood of that barbarism that today nobody wants to collect in their hands, and worst of all: no one wants to recognize.
We are in Bulgaria. The daughter of a political dissident seeks his father's past in the secret archives of the fearsome Communist regime police. His father, at first communist and later, disenchanted with that ideology falsely egalitarian and liberating of the town, decided to enlist in the anticommunist guerrilla and left for the mountains. From that day, the life of his family changed forever and became dramatic, terrible, traumatic, since his father was finally captured and imprisoned for life and they lived in social ostracism for belonging to the wrong side.
But what interests the directors of the film, is not this in itself, they go far beyond personal revanchismos and entrenched hatreds, they want to review history, analyze the past to focus on the present that their country lives since theoretically changed the communist regime to a parliamentary democracy. This is the fascinating part of the documentary, to see how things have not changed substantially, but have been recycled in an appearance of normality, have put on the mask of the "goodness" of the democratic father to hide the ferocious face of the father "Communist, "but it turns out that those who ruled in communism are the same elite that governs democracy.
"The Beast Is still Alive" is the portrait of an entire lost generation and represents their disappointment once they have reached middle age and have understood that the legacy of their parents has not left them seeds of the future, but bullets without firing from the past. "Now the young people do not go out to fight", says the father to his daughter in his intense dialogue that lasts the whole film. "Yes, but we went out to demonstrate," she replies. "But you are very few, you are worms, you do not have the strength". "We are building a society of citizens," she says, proud of her convictions. "You have to start with something. We are showing people other ways of protest, other forms of struggle".
The past teaches us, but it does not serve us. This seems to be one of the consequences that she draws from her research. Here is the key to the documentary, and the didactic value of its viewing: we must carefully analyze the history, know from both sides, not to leave anything is hidden for fear of discovering annoying truths (as when the daughter discovers among the documents she reviews, that his father was a communist agent for a time), not to lose oneself in the grudges, the hatreds, the frustrations of a lost past that will never return. Only thus, taking into account all this and throwing it (once digested and analyzed with a magnifying glass) as a ballast that manufactures the new future, the true future, not the cardboard in which the young Bulgarians live for decades. In this sense, it is brilliant how we speak of communist and socialist movements, as a way to recover essential things that have never been used in history.
"The Beast is Still Alive" has lots of flat composition. There are never neglected or adorned images; everything has its motive. This is the reason the camera walks the streets, gets into the houses, and becomes friends with the men and women who are on their way. But he also confronts the enemies, those he most fiercely portrays, but he does so calmly, maturely, with the necessary distance to strike the consciousness of the viewer and reveal things to him, make him a participant in the situation. All sides are studied and only takes sides for freedom, for truth, for a life of dignity, without chains or ancestral fears.
The end of the film is excellent, totally consistent with everything exposed from the beginning, and means a colophon that was necessary to forcefully close the documentary.
Will Bulgaria, finally, have the right to color and finally be able to bury the black and white of their ancestors?
Miguel Ángel Barroso/Cult Critic/CICFF
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