Wagenstein, Angel


Angel Wagenstein was born to a Sephardic Jewish family in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, on October 17, 1922. In the following years, he shared the experiences of many Eastern European Jews, including emigration, a childhood in Paris with his leftist parents, and, after his return to Bulgaria, resistance against the fascists in the Sofia underground. He was denounced and sent to a Nazi labor camp, but escaped and rejoined the Bulgarian partisans. He was later caught again and subjected to torture and four months in a dark cell. The arrival of the Soviet Army in Bulgaria on September 9, 1944 saved him from execution.


After WWII, Wagenstein studied screenwriting at the famous VGIK film academy in Moscow. There he met the German director Konrad Wolf, with whom he later worked on three films: Goya, Der kleine Prinz, and Sterne, the first Bulgarian/East German co-production. Unfortunately, the film project Troika – about director Konrad Wolf’s Moscow school friends, who followed different directions in their lives – never reached fruition.


Wagenstein has authored over 50 screenplays for feature films, documentaries and cartoons, and has been decorated with the state’s highest honors in both France and Bulgaria. He lives in Sofia and is an active member of Bulgaria’s cultural and political scene. Wagenstein is the subject of a documentary by Andrea Simon (Salka Viertel, 2005; Talk to Me: Americans in Conversation, 1996).


Festivals & Awards:

2004 Prix Jean Monnet for European Literature for Sbogom, Shanghai
2002  Alberto Benveniste Prize of the Sorbonne for Dalech Ot Toledo
1971 National Prize, Class 1, for Goya oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis


Bibliography & More:

Angel Wagenstein: Art Is a Weapon (2017, USA, dir. Andrea Simon) - World Premiere at the 2017 New York Jewish Film Festival


Wagenstein, Angel. Petoknizhie Issakova (Isaac’s Torah). Sofia: Izdatelska kushta “Khristo Botev.” 2000. (Published in English by Other Press, New York in 2008)


Wagenstein, Angel. Sbogom, Shanghai (Farewell, Shanghai). Sofia: Colibri. 2004. (Published in English by Other Press, New York in 2007)


Wagenstein, Angel. Dalech Ot Toledo (transl. Far from Toledo). Sofia: Colibri. 2002.


1998 Sled kraja na sveta (After the End of the World)
1996 Shanghai 1937 (Hotel Shanghai, TV)
1986 Mglistyye berega (Misty Shores)
1985 Bordella (The Brothel)
1985 Boris I (The Conversion to Christianity & Discourse of Letters)
1980 Kontzert za fleyta i momiche (Flete Concerto and a Girl)
1976 Zvezdi v kosite, salzi v ochite (Stars in Her Hair, Tears in Her Eyes)
1976 Dopalnenie kam zakona za zashtita na darzhavata (Amendment to the Law for the Defence of the State)
1972 Eolomea
1971 Goya oder der arge Weg der Erkenntnis (Goya or the Hard Way to Enlightenment)
1970 Ezop (Aesop)
1966 Heimlichkeiten (Little Secrets)
1966 Der kleine Prinz (The Little Prince)
1964 Verigata (The Chain)
1964 Chronik eines Mordes (Story of a Murder)
1959 Sterne (Stars)
1958 Rebro Adamovo (Adam’s Rib)
1958 Zakonat na moreto (The Law of the Sea)
1954 Septemvriytzi (The Heroes of September)
1951 Trevoga (Alarm)


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