Sofia, the capital of socialist Bulgaria, in the summer of 1968, a key year. The World Festival of Youth and Students is taking place there, an event organised by the World Federation of Democratic Youth, an organisation close to the Kremlin. The festival takes place every three to five years and is an opportunity for the “peace loving” forces to invoke international solidarity. Much like in East Berlin in 1974, the festival in Bulgaria five years earlier is designed to demonstrate the alleged liberality of a system that is normally less than permissive. For a few days, it is as if the laws governing the depressing daily grind are suspended. On the fringes of the official festivities, a few young people attempt to make the most of these newly declared freedoms, including Sybilla, known as “the Countess” on the scene. Sexual freedom is asserted and drugs make the rounds. Sybilla is later arrested during a police raid. A wretched “career” now begins for her, as she passes through a variety of different state institutions, forced to endure their questionable attempts at re-socialisation. But not even a re-education home, work camps, prison, and a psychiatric ward combined with some hard personal blows manage to dent her spirit. The Countess gets back on her feet after every setback and continues her quest for happiness.
by Petar Popzlatew
with Swetlana Jantschewa, Alexandr Dojnow, Itzchak Finzi