A famous aphorism says: “Talent is not an accidental miracle!” And the miracle is beyond physical laws and biological parameters – moreover, it refutes them!
Talent too – it violates and does not obey standard norms. Because talent is a state of mind, not of the body, and that’s why it has no age! With age, talent accumulates experience, and thus (paradoxically) it does not age, but gets younger!
Young talent makes revolutions – intellectual and artistic, and through them also social. The seasoned talent reaps the fruits of his revolutionary youth! Talent is an emanation of the inexplicable and a gift of God plus a pinch of individual will of the subject.
Of course, when I say God’s gift I’m not implying my name (which you might have thought), because I’m talking about Angel Wagenstein – our Jackie!
He was born in Plovdiv 100 years ago!
His life goes through 3 political eras.
At the age of 21, he is in prison on death row, and every night before dawn he expects footsteps in the corridor and an ominous unlocking of the metal door.
But 46 years later, in January 1989, he was one of the 12 Bulgarian intellectuals invited by President François Mitterrand to the famous “dissident breakfast” at the French embassy in Sofia. And the following year he was a deputy in the 7th Great National Assembly.
In 1950, he graduated from VGIK, the oldest film school in the world, established only 3 years before his birth. Receives diploma No. 1 as the first foreign student!
And begins his professional work: over 50 scripts for feature, documentary and animated films produced in Bulgaria, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Georgia, China, Vietnam in the next 50 years! He also works as a director of a number of documentaries. We will not recall the awards from national and international festivals, because the text will become endless.
But let’s mention at least the Special Jury Prize in Cannes 1959 for the film “Stars”, created from his script by his fellow student Konrad Wolff.
After 12 years, together again they make “Goya” – a biographical story about the great Spanish artist. In our country, films based on his scripts have been made by Zahariy Zhandov (“Anxiety”), Anton Marinovich (“Adam’s Rib”), Lyubomir Sharlandzhiev (“The Chain”), Rangel Valchanov (“Aesop”), Borislav Sharaliev (“Boris I”), Ivan Nichev (“Stars in the hair, tears in the eyes”) and many others whom he helped pass the trade and establish themselves in the profession.
He is also tempted by the theater scene – his plays have been performed in a number of our theaters and abroad. But the most famous remains the puppet show “Sylvester’s Treasure” (1962, dir. Atanas Ilkov), a pirate burlesque that played to a packed saloon for several seasons, and the audience was enthralled by the sparkling humor intertwined with elegant satire.
Among his official state awards shines the highest order “Stara planina” 1st degree.
In the last twenty years, he has been more in front of the computer as a productive writer: 7 books, among which the trilogy “Isakovo Pentateuch”, “Far from Toledo” and “Goodbye, Shanghai” stand out, translated and published in Germany, Russia, France, the Czech Republic, the USA , Canada, Australia, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Spain, Poland, Italy, Israel.
In his office (a cozy attic) there is a whole wall with books in Hebrew and the other with books in Chinese! When asked, “Do you read these books in ancient languages?” He answers: “Worse – I wrote them, but in Bulgarian.”
Of his boundless artistic talent, we must especially note his exceptional and unique sense of humor. In professional relations, everyone who has at least once worked with him calls him Jackie. And he likes to tell an old Jewish joke: When greeting someone, the Jews wish him: “May you live 120 years!” And why exactly 120? Because when he dies at 119, everyone will say, “Gone young!”
So, Jackie, happy centenary!
And we ask you to live 120 years!
We need your talented youth!
*Prof. Bozhidar Manov’s text was originally published on the website of “ArtAction”