Review: ‘Classification of the Memories’

Vet docu helmer Kostadin Bonev tries for a real-life "The Lives of Others."

Vet docu helmer Kostadin Bonev tries for a real-life “The Lives of Others” with “Classification of the Memories,” a hagiographic account of a Bulgarian dissident who survived surveillance, imprisonment and finally emigration. Shrink Lubomir Kanov now lives in New York, but during the repressive days of Bulgarian communism, he was branded an enemy of the state for perceived anti-socialist activities. Bonev brings to light Secret Service reports and letters from informants, and while the damage they did was very real, he’s too enamored of his subject to delve properly. Exposure will be limited to local play.

Kanov’s 18-month jail sentence in 1977 was prompted by a reputation for free-thinking sarcasm and a brother in exile. After release, he felt isolated, and finally left the country in 1984 (Bonev passes too quickly over exactly how this happened); now with a successful psychiatric practice on Long Island, the golden-tongued Kanov has become a writer. Bonev brings home the absurdity of the surreal yet chilling detail of the surveillance reports, but his docu feels like a puff piece, and fails to question informants and their motivations. Music is generally overbearing.

Classification of the Memories

Bulgaria

Production

A Trivium Films production. Produced, directed by Kostadin Bonev. Written by Vladi Kirov.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, DV), Konstantin Zankov; editor, Julian Minkov; music, Nikolay Ivanov. Reviewed at Sofia Film Festival (Balkan Screenings), March 11, 2010. Original title: Klasifikacia na spoteni. Bulgarian, English dialogue. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Lubomir Kanov, Hristo Rachev, Boris Hristov.
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