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Short Take: Glory

(Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, Bulgaria/Greece, Film Movement, Opens April 12)

Directing duo Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s witty and ingeniously crafted follow-up to The Lesson (2014) is a snapshot of a contemporary Bulgaria plagued by injustice and corruption. Continuing the filmmakers’ exploration of grim working-class lives, and based on a news story, Glory focuses on Tzanko Petrov (Stefan Denolyubov), a disheveled, hermit-like railroad lineman thrust into a bureaucratic nightmare upon informing the authorities of a pile of money scattered on the train tracks. Proclaimed a national hero by publicity-seeking officials, he takes a day off from his rustic existence to attend an ostentatious ceremony during which he is silenced, ridiculed, and robbed of the one thing he cherishes: a watch inherited from his father (the brand of which is the film’s original title, Slava).

Glory’s serious themes are tempered by jolts of comedy stemming from the parallel story line of Julia Staykova (Margita Gosheva), a ruthless PR executive who exploits and oppresses Tzanko. The loud, chaotic reality of Julia’s life, governed by rapid-fire phone calls and the laborious procedures of her fertilization treatment, is set against Tzanko’s confined and bare universe, in which the only sounds are supplied by nature and domestic appliances—the relentless buzzing of the refrigerator builds an ominous mood that foreshadows the film’s half-slapstick, half-slasher ending. For all its traditional trappings, Glory excels at satirizing a hypocritical and pretentious society that makes and breaks its own heroes.