Angel Raymond Wagenstein (Bulgarian: Анжел Раймонд Вагенщайн) (born 17 October 1922) is a Bulgarian film director and author. Wagenstein was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, but spent his childhood in France where his Jewish family emigrated for political reasons due to their leftist politics.
Angel Wagenstein returned to Bulgaria due to an amnesty, and as a student at a lyceum, where he joined an anti-fascist group. He was interned in a labour camp for Jews in Macedonia, but escaped from it. After a combat mission, he was arrested and condemned to death in 1944, but the execution was first delayed by the Anglo-American bombing of Sofia, which destroyed parts of the prison and forced the relocation of the inmates to another facility, and then prevented by the anti-fascist (mostly Communist) takeover and the roughly simultaneous invasion of the Soviet Red Army.
After completing a degree in 1950 in film screenwriting at the S. A. Gerasimov All-Union State Institute for Cinematography in Moscow, he worked as a screenplay writer for the Bulgarian Cinematography Center and for the DEFA Film Studio (the former East Germany Cinematography Center). He is author of over fifty screenplays for films, documentaries and cartoons. He became famous with his movies about Bulgarian Communists, especially partisans.
His film Stars, shot in 1959 by the German director Konrad Wolf, was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival. In 1980, he was a member of the jury at the 30th Berlin International Film Festival.
His fiction includes the triptych Петокнижие Исааково (Isaac's Torah), Далеч от Толедо (Far from Toledo) and Сбогом, Шанхай (Farewell, Shanghai), which have been published both separately and together not only in Bulgarian but also in French, German, Russian, English, Czech, Polish, Macedonian, Spanish, Italian and Hebrew. Far from Toledo was awarded in 2002 the Alberto Benveniste annual prize of the Sorbonne, while his novel Farewell Shanghai received the Jean Monnet Prize of European literature in 2004. The French government awarded Angel Wagenstein the high distinction of Chevalier of the French Order of Merit, and later Chevalier of Arts and Literature. He is also the bearer of the highest Bulgarian distinction – the Stara Planina Order. In 2009 he was made honorary citizen of the city of Plovdiv. A documentary film about his life, Angel Wagenstein: Art Is a Weapon, was produced by American director Andrea Simon in 2017 and won the Audience Award at the South East European Film Festival.
The East German movie Eolomea is based on one of his works.
He is married to Zora, with whom he has two sons, Raymond and Plamen.
Prizes and nominations
- "Farewell, Shanghai"
- Jean Monnet Prize of European literature 2004
- Shortlisted for VICK 2004 annual prize
- Nomination for the international literary prize of Haus der Kulturen in Berlin
- "Isaac's Torah"
- "Far from Toledo"
- Bulgarian Writers Association annual prize 2002
- “Alberto Benveniste” annual prize for Sepharade literature 2003
- IMDb entry
- Angel Wagenstein: Art Is a Weapon at IMDb
- Brief Biography
- Brief Biography
- Film credits
- Reference on the Bulgarian Writers' Union website[permanent dead link]
- S. A. Gerasimov All-Union State Institute for Cinematography Всероссийский государственный университет кинематографии им. С.А. Герасимова