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"Democratziya" - Newspaper 23rd of March 1998

AN EXHIBITION REHABILITATES THE BULGARIAN WALT DISNEY

By Geoghi Angelov

    The new exhibition hall at 26, "Ivan Assen" street in the capital is from today showing to the public paintings, pictures and illustrations by the painter Dimitar Todorov- Jarava (1901-1988). Despite his exhibitions in 1969 and 1977 at 6,"Shipka" street (the exhibition hall of the Union of Bulgarian Painters), he is almost unknown, especially to the young generation. But there are at least four occasions for his family’s decision to present some 15 of his works in this exhibition : 60 years ago was issued the patent for "New cinematographic reel", 50 years ago was set up the trick-films department(at the Bulgarian Cinematography), 45 years ago was produced the first Bulgarian cartoon film"Woodland Republic" and 10 years ago the painter passed away.

    It is not a well-known fact that in 1948 following a suggestion by Dimitar Todorov-Jarava, the management of Bulgarian Cinematography welcomed his idea to set the start of cartoon- and doll films production in Bulgaria. Even before then there were attempts by both Stoyan Velev and Alexander Denkov, but these were only static pictures. What was missing was the movement, i.e. the animation. Precisely adopting Walt Disney’s experience, finding and training of staff, as well as the materials (by that time-dumped photographic plate from the hospitals) was the goal of the father of Bulgarian animation. Jarava was born in Shoumen , he graduated the secondary school in Yambol and in 1925- art of painting at the Academy of Arts in Sofia. He was a teacher in Byala Slatina, Botevgrad (at that time-Orhanie) and Sofia , until in 1948 he was appointed to the cinematography. With caricatures and illustrations he actively contributed to the magazines "Firefly", "Children’s World" and others. His dream used to be to see the illustrations for children coming alive. In 1938 he crated an apparatus for paper reel, onto which could be printed pictures of figures in motion that the children could cut out, glue lengthwise and then show as a film. What was used, was the principle of the epidiascope- the optics is not used for the penetration of the light , but for its reflection. Jarava got a patent for this invention, which was reported also in the States and even there were some conversations about a visit to there. Unfortunately the war put an end to this initiative.

    And so, after a hard time the Bulgarian Walt Disney (No.100 of "Zemlyak "Newspaper from December 23rd 1946) made real the first cartoon in Bulgaria "It Serves Him Well"(1950) ,story by Angel Karaliichev, "Wolf and Lamb"(1953) and the sound film "Woodland Republic"(1954), which is as well the first cartoon film in colour in Bulgaria. Although the first two films burnt in the fire of the film store, the painter had managed to keep enough visual materials. At that time the men were involved at the production of the propaganda slogans while the female painters were prevailing, like Radka Bachvarova, for example. With the thus prepared by Jarava team ,in 1955 Todor Dinov prepared his diploma work "Marko the Hero". Later followed conflicts with the management of the cinematography, that preferred the specialists, trained in the USSR and Czechoslovakia before the self-educated pioneer. Embittered, Jarava resigned...

    But it is no chance that his pupil Roman Meitzov received world recognition exactly in this type of animation. By the way, "Woodland Republic" is even today quite good, unlike most of our animations for children lately. Despite the humiliation and his ruined life Dimitar Todorov-Jarava was sincerely happy for every international success of the Bulgarian cartoon film , perhaps feeling himself at the foot of these successes.