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PEN/OutWrite | 22nd August 2018

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Pride | Bulgaria


Dir: Pavel G. Vesnakov
Curated by Future Shorts

When I was 5, my parents lost their jobs. Bulgaria was in the early throws of transition to democracy and market economy, and many people of my parents’ generation faced a choice: they could either immigrate and brave the unknown or stay and cope with the countless compromises they’d have to make. My parents left.

Therefore, Ispent the next several years living with his grandparents.  My grandfather was the greatest influence in my formative years, teaching me not only to read, write, add and subtract, but also laying the foundation of my morality. Thanks to him I never felt my parents’ absence. And yet, we were products of different eras and today we often find our values at odds. Despite their great relationship and the grandfather’s guiding presence in my youth, there is a chasm we can’t bridge. This conflict is at the heart of the film I wanted to make when I set off to make PRIDE.

To me PRIDE was more a film about the inability to communicate than a queer-themed film. It shows how the fond relationship between a boy on his way to manhood and his grandfather is threatened by their difference. The grandfather — a patriarch whose sense of responsibility for the boy translates into his need to make him fit into his inflexible idea of a “real man” — can’t deal with the news that the boy is gay. He is devastated, angry, ashamed, and determined to fix the problem before the boy’s parents (who work abroad) visit. But the more he tries to force reality into his idea of a perfect world, the more obvious becomes that this is an impossible cause.

The soliloquizing main character (the family patriarch and grandfather Manol) finally understands that he is caught in a process that is outside his sphere of influence. The world is changing, old structures disappear irreversibly, wether one likes it or not. In the end of the film, violence, anger or despair are not longer the dominating feelings. They are replaced by resignation in the face of imminent change and the recognition that one can’t “fix” everything.

My goals was to help the viewer understand and feel empathy for both characters, shying away form moral definities and focusing on the humanity of it all instead.