DIR: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov • WRI: Kristina Grozeva, Decho Taralezhkov, Petar Valchanov • PRO: Kristina Grozeva, Konstantina Stavrianou • DOP: Krum Rodriguez • ED: Petar Valchanov • MUS: Hristo Namliev • DES: Kristina Tomova • CAST: Stefan Denolyubov, Margita Gosheva, Ana Bratoeva
Glory is a rare gem of a film. The second of Kristina Grozeva’s Newspaper-Clippings trilogy, Glory is an exploration of corruption and accountability that highlights the class tensions of contemporary Bulgarian society. When railway trackman Tsanko Petrov (Stefan Denolybov) alerts the authorities to a large amount of money found on the tracks, he finds himself swept into the middle of an aggressive PR battle. In order to distract from accusations of corruption within the Ministry of Transport, Julia Staykova (Margita Gosheva), the boujie and militaristically corporate head of PR decides to parade Tsanko as a hero in order to spin press attention away from the brewing scandal. Poor, dishevelled, and speaking with a stutter, Tsanko is ridiculed and discarded once he has fulfilled Julia’s needs. However, he proves difficult for Julia to get rid of, as he relentlessly presses her to return his father’s watch, taken from him at the press conference. Julia tries her best to worm away from culpability, but soon finds some actions just can’t be undone.
Corruption and class tensions are themes which consistently boil close to the surface of the film, with a sharp contrast drawn between the tough, tireless and ramshackle lives of the lower class trackmen and the clean, profit driven world of the upper class PR workers. Tsanko and his co-workers break their backs to keep the tracks maintained and the trains running, yet they are completely alienated from the means of their labour and thus lead impoverished lives while the minister and his employees get rich and postpone the payment of wages on a whim. Tsanko even makes a point of bringing direct evidence of corruption to the minister, who brushes him off continuously while smiling for the cameras. Tsanko is hailed as a hero but is ultimately used as a distraction; no one actually cares about him or the quality of his life.
The notion of accountability is threaded throughout the film; Tsanko hovers like a ghost as the edge of Julia’s life and though she tries to ward him off she can’t escape him. Though she is the one who lost his watch, and though she is the one who placed him in compromising and increasingly dangerous positions, she refuses to be held accountable for her impact of his life. It is only when consequences come to a searing boil that she realises her mistake, and the question then is whether her acceptance of culpability comes too late. Her treatment of Tsanko is clinical, unfair, and infuriating to watch, but his final slice of retaliation is sharp and satisfactory. Thoughtful, pointed, and emotive, Glory is a film which stares the uncomfortable inequalities of state capitalism in the face, and refuses to look away, even when its nasty nature begins to unfold.
Sadhbh Ni Bhroin
12A (See IFCO for details)
Glory is released 26th January 2018