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Documentary Evidence of the Creation of the Film “Heroes of Šipka” in Bulgarian Archives

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to present the Bulgarian-Soviet production of the first feature film about the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877 – 1878 called “Heroes of Šipka” in the light of the newly discovered archival traces. “Heroes of Šipka” is designed and realized as a model and template for the Bulgarian national cinema – with a Soviet script, direction and performance but with Bulgarian funding and on Bulgarian soil. I elaborate on the relations and dependencies in an otherwise coproduced film. Official documents by Bulgarian institutions do not unilaterally outline the three stages of influence and dependence. The first one is the effective selection of the theme of the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877 – 1878. The second one is the use of the topic for the second “liberation” of Bulgaria in 1944 and the perpetuation of the myth of the “double liberators”. The third one is the creation of bilateral teams as the Soviet school served as a guideline for the qualification of Bulgarian filmmakers. We discovered details that show the ambiguity of this dependence with examples of Bulgarian activities and the Soviet help and protection, which often was sought and not only imposed on Bulgaria.
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