Angel Wagenstein Celebrates 100th Anniversary in Sofia


    SOFIA: The eminent writer, director and screenwriter Angel Wagenstein, who turned 100 years old on 17 October 2022, was celebrated during the 8th edition of the International Book & Movie Festival CineLibri.

    Angel Wagenstein, photo: private archive, source: Wikimedia Commons, the free media repositoryThe official ceremony took place in the House of Cinema and was moderated by Jaqueline Wagenstein, Angel’s granddaughter and founder of CineLibri.

    Considered as one of Bulgaria’s most respected Jewish intellectuals, Wagenstein received accolades and honours from Iliana Iotova, Vice President of Bulgaria, and a number of embassies, artistic unions and associations.

    The culmination of the ceremony was the deeply emotional video message in which Wagenstein stated: “Getting older is not an achievement or something to be proud of. Nature has her secret and mystical measure of one’s idle garters of life. Their value depends only on one’s own determination and perseverance in following the way to the Temple, even if it is far beyond the horizon of our lives.”

    The ceremony also included the screening of the digitally restored Cannes 1959 Grand Jury Prize winner Stars, a coproduction between former East German DEFA studios and former Sofia studios. Written by Wagenstein and directed by Konrad Wolf, the film continues to be valued for having shown the Sephardic Jewish experience during the Holocaust in the Balkans.

    Known for his participation in the Resistance Movement in 1941-1944, Wagenstein was among the eight anti-fascists sentenced to death, and luckily released from prison after the end of World War II. He was the first foreigner to study and to graduate from the Moscow Film Academy.

    His name as a scriptwriter is credited to over 50 films he wrote for Bulgarian, Czech and East German film studios. He is also the author of 10 novels, among them the famous Isaac's Torah and Farewell, Shanghai.

    The 8th edition of the International Book & Movie Festival CineLibri is screening 60 fresh film adaptations between 8 and 30 October 2022. Having rapidly gained importance on the Bulgarian festival map, the upcoming edition is taking place under the motto “Time Regained”.