LGBT+ bulgarian short film black and white extract
Trigger warning: discussing subjects of
warning: Adult content
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Borislav
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April 12, 2022
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Queer Bulgarians have always been there: an immersive archive

Gay and lesbian love didn’t wait until the 21st century to magically appear. Centuries of queer love stories are waiting to be unveiled, and Article 216 offers us a glimpse of them through a poetic and immersive website.

Article 216 is the first article of law that mentions homosexuality in Bulgaria. Written in 1896, the article states that for pederasty between persons older than sixteen years, the punishment shall be imprisonment for not less than six months. When Borislav stumbled upon the article, he was astonished. It was proof that more than a century ago in Bulgaria, gay people were there.

The discovery encouraged the young web artist to come up with a project: Article 216. An immersive website mixing archives, film, animation, and music created especially for the project. The Fine Arts at the National Art School "D. Hristov and Graphic Communication Design at the University of Westminster graduate crafted his debut project from beginning to end, being simultaneously director, actor, artist, and designer.

Article 216 aims to be open to different publics. Right off the bat, you can choose between three options, depending on your perception of homosexuality in Bulgaria. You can pick between “it’s an ideology imported from the West”, “I don’t mind but…” and a neutral or favorable approach. You’re then introduced to bits of history that paved the way for a queer History of LGBTQI+ individuals in Bulgaria.

Article 216 proves to homophobes in Bulgaria that gay people have always existed and are no imported ideology, while at the same time providing comfort to young LGBTQI+ Bulgarians by showing that they have gay ancestors. The project is a first attempt at building a queer history of Bulgaria, put together through scarce archives.

In the future, Borislav hopes to find more sources to paint a bigger picture of Bulgaria’s LGBTQI+ history.

The project came together with the help of Kosta Karakashyan as producer, Boris Urumov as cinematographer, Dobromir Kisyov, C-Mo, Sirma Kuncheva, and Rostislav Schipochky with music, and Antonia Kundakova, Ahmet Ismail, and Sirma Kuncheva as actors. Offering to unveil the past and imagine a better future, Article 216 is a crucial initiative for young LGBTQI+ Bulgarians.

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