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16th October 2018 DATCHET VILLAGE HALL

GLORY (Slava)

Bulgaria/Greece 101 mins Cert.12A


Tzanko Petrov
Julia Staykova
Stefan Denolyubov
Margita Gosheva
Directors Petar Valchanov,
Kristina Grozeva
Valeri Kitodar Todorov Screenplay Kristina Grozeva,
Kiril Kolev Milko Lazarov Petar Valchanov
Minister Kanchev Ivan Savov Decho Taralezhkov
Porter
Galya
Hristofor Nedkov
Mira Iskarova
Cinematographer
Editor
Music
Krum Rodriguez
Petar Valchanov
Hristo Namliev

This satirical drama from Bulgaria fits well alongside other Eastern European stories of endemic corruption (such as Romania's Graduation). There's an almost Kafkaesque quality to the odyssey of a simple, honest man who gets caught up in a maze of vile bureaucratic mayhem. What this man goes through is painful to watch, mainly because it's so easy to identify with what he faces

When railway worker Tzanko finds a bag of cash on the line, transport ministry PR boss Julia kicks into action. Tzanko may be inarticulate, but Julia thinks his story will distract the public from a corruption scandal that's brewing. Everyone looks right through Tzanko, ignoring whatever he says to use him as a prop. Tired of being mistreated, he considers talking to Julia's nemesis, truth-telling journalist Kiril . Meanwhile, Julia doesn't want anyone to know that she's going through IVF with her extremely patient husband Valeri.

Glory poster

Tzanko is a fish out of water in this media circus. His open approach to life is ridiculed behind his back, while officials portray him as a hero. Of course, he's being ruthlessly exploited by government cronies who dismiss him when he asks about his delayed paycheque or exposes that they know fuel is being stolen in vast quantities. And Julia certainly has no interest in finding the "Glory" watch she took from Tzanko, which was given to him by his father.

Denolyubov is terrific as the woolly veteran worker trying to do the right thing in a sea of sharks. The worst of the lot is Julia, and Gosheva plays her unapologetically as an ambitious woman who takes advantage of everything and everyone. She's witty and charismatic, but heartless. And as she pushes her team to increasingly vile reprisals, Julia hasn't a clue that she's as trapped in this system as Tzanko is. So it's easy to see why Todorov's Valeri is struggling to cope with her.

Even with its archly comical tone, the film feels like a rather forensic dramatisation of a system that's badly out of whack. But there's an even more potent angle here, as the filmmakers explore the chasm between the haves and have-nots, something that will resonate in any society. The reaction to Tzanko speaking the truth is horrific enough, but the people trying to silence him are so privileged that they have lost the ability to see what's actually important. And it's even more horrifying that the public buy into their lies.

Rich Cline at www.shadowsonthewall.co.uk