Coming to Terms with the Past: New Bulgarian Cinema and the Post-Communist Transition


Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Title: Coming to Terms with the Past: New Bulgarian Cinema and the Post-
Communist Transition
Author: Antonina Anisimovich
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor
of Philosophy in Media Studies.
In 1989, Bulgaria started its long and complicated process of a post-communist
transition. The subsequent economic, social, and political instability, accompanied
by a delayed and limited process of decommunisation, shaped a fragmented and
polarised narrative about the past. In the context of the lack of official response to
this polarisation, several vernacular modes of remembering become more and more
significant. Post-communist transition remains an important theme in the new
Bulgarian cinema, manifesting the need to discuss and evaluate the legacies of the
past. This thesis proposes a multimethod approach to media memory studies,
combining textual and contextual film analysis, focus groups with the audience, and
interviews with the filmmakers.
The thesis begins by evaluating the role of cinema in challenging the East/West
binary in the context of the re-evaluation of national identity triggered by the collapse
of the communist regime and fuelled further by the accession of Bulgaria to the EU
in 2007. The findings show that cinema emerges as a starting point that encourages
dialogue about some specific areas of collective memory contestation. The
multiplicity of the conflicting interpretations of the communist past is studied through
the lens of the co-existence of the discourses of continuity and disruption. Finally,
the thesis evaluates the enabling potential of post-communist nostalgia as a critique
of the present. It is argued that cinema in Bulgaria emerges as a platform for
negotiation encouraging a more nuanced public dialogue about the communist past
and the transition.
Date of Award3 Jul 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Edge Hill University
SupervisorOWEN EVANS (Director of Studies), RUXANDRA TRANDAFOIU (Supervisor) & ZANA VATHI (Supervisor)


  • collective memory
  • mediated memory
  • national cinema
  • post-communist transition
  • mediated nostalgia
  • post-communist nostalgia
  • Bulgarian cinema
  • post-communist cinema

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