When we write about the great actors of Bulgarian cinema and theatre, it is an honour and an extraordinary pleasure to mention one of the most remarkable actors of our time, Georgi Kaloyanchev (BG: Георги Калоянчев) , known among his friends and fans as Kalata. He belongs to the generation of prominent actors who together with the most outstanding filmmakers of the fifties and sixties established the artistic values of Bulgarian feature cinema.
Early Life and Education
Koloyanchev was born in Burgas on 13 January 1925. He was educated at the National Theatre School (BG: Държавното висше театрално училище, or ДВТУ), graduating in 1952. He was noticed for his talented stage work while still a student, and upon graduation immediately joined the acting troupe of the National Theatre in Sofia.
Early Film Period
Kaloyanchev made his screen debut as the lively character Sali in the movie Dawn over the Homeland (BG: Утро над Родината ) (1951), directed by Anton Marinovich. This socio-psychological drama explored the Bulgarian youth brigade movement during the early years of socialism.
Then followed a role as Petko Shiloto in the film drama Our Land (BG: Наша земя) (1952), about the everyday life of Bulgarian border guards during the early 1950’s , and a supporting role in Daughter in Law (BG: Снаха) (1954), a screen version of the Georgi Karaslavov novel describing post World War I social changes in Bulgarian village life.
Kaloyanchev achieved his first major cinema success in the social drama People of Dimitrovgrad (BG: Димитровградци) (1956), directed by Nikola Korabov, and the role of Van der Lyube in the documentary drama A Lesson in History (BG: Урокът на историята) (1957), about the history and conspiracy surrounding the burning of the Reichstag in Berlin.
After a handful of minor roles in Favorite 13 (BG: Любимец 13) (1958), The Little Girl (BG: Малката) (1959), First Lesson (BG: Първи урок) (1960), and others came his wonderful interpretation of the character Spiro in Petar Vasilev’s comedy Jack of All Trades (BG: Специалист по всичко) (1962).
After the films Tobacco (BG: Тютюн) (1962) and The Golden Tooth (BG: Златният зъб) (1962), Kaloyanchev played one of his best roles in the psychological thriller The Inspector and the Night (BG: Инспекторът и нощта) (1963). In the title role, Kaloyanchev demonstrated the same great talent for dramatic roles as he had previously shown in comedy. We still remember the Inspector who devoted his life to a profession bringing him regularly in touch with the darker side of life, yet fights to remain a good and upright person.
The success of his role as the Inspector solidified Kaloyanchev’s status as a film star, and from then on he appeared almost exclusively in more prominent roles. His work in different genres is also of note, showcasing his talent and versatility as an artist.
He starred in the comic satire Incredible Story (BG: Невероятна история) (1964), in the drama The Blonde and the Turtledove (BG: Русият и Гугутката) (1965), in the socio-psycological drama The She-Wolf (BG: Вълчицата) (1965), in the anti-fascist drama The Longest Night (BG: Най-дългата нощ) (1967), and as the hero Riksata in the satirical comedy The Tied Up Balloon (BG: Привързаният балон) (1967).
One of Kaloyanchev’s great artistic achievements was his depiction of Giordano Bruno in the historical drama Galileo Galilei (BG: Галилео Галилей) (1969), directed by the famous Italian filmmaker Liliana Kavani.
Returning to his comedic roots, he made for a vivid Parushev in the comedy Whale (BG: Кит) (1970), poking fun at people who exaggerate their insignificant achievements for personal gain, and in the same year delivered a brilliant performance in the title role of the satirical parable Aesop (BG: Езоп) (1970), directed by Rangel Valchanov .
Other highlights include his widely acclaimed portrayal of Aleko Konstantinov’s beloved character Bai Ganyo in Bai Ganyo on His Way to Europe (BG: Бай Ганьо тръгва из Европа) (1991). Although many actors have recreated Bai Ganyo on stage and screen, film maker Ivan Nichev said Kaloyanchev was the only actor of his day to perfectly identify with the Konstantinov’s literary prototype.
In all Kaloyanchev has over 150 cinema, television, and theatrical roles to his credit. Even though we have mentioned only a few of them here, there are many more beloved across generations. The power of his talent conquered the hearts of audiences throughout his long and noteable career .
Georgi Kaloyanchev was awarded the titles Honoured Artist (1963) and People’s Artist (1966) by the Bulgarian state for his contributions to Bulgarian culture. He won a Golden Rose at the 1986 Bulgarian Feature Film Festival in Varna for his brilliant performance as Bay Luko in the film Characterization (BG: Характеристика) (1985).
Other awards include the Cyrill and Methodi Prize (Levels 1,2 and 3), the 25 Years of National Rule Prize, the 1300 Years of Bulgaria Award (Level 1), the Sofia Prize, and the Hero of Socialist Work Award.
He received the Union of Bulgarian Actors Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
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