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Exploring Guilty Pleasures in the Fifth Annual Doc Challenge

October 10, 2017

The phrase “guilty pleasure” is perhaps one of the most pernicious linguistic remnants of the 20th century. It’s a clear indicator of an ever-growing decadent culture addicted to pleasure and it has transcended the idea of cultural guilt and cultural pleasure being inherently connected and interdependent into the cultural vocabulary of the 21st century.

But why and how does this type of emotional sequencing fit into our contemporary world?

This was the question the AUBG Documentary Club proposed to the contesting teams in the annual 48 Hour Documentary Challenge. Following the guilty pleasures theme, the participants had two days to create a short documentary and compete for three prizes. The screening of the films and the award ceremony took place on Friday, Oct. 6 at the Andrey Delchev Auditorium.

 “The night is young and full of documentaries,” said Fatme Tsiko, member of the Doc Club, starting off the screenings. Five teams presented their final works in front of the film enthusiasts in the audience. A panel of judges had the task of choosing the winner of this year’s challenge.

The panel consisted of Dr. Lynnette Leonard, head of the JMC Department, Sava Stoyanov, fourth-year student and participant in a previous edition of the challenge, and Sofia Bunza, a representative from the club. They judged the films on criteria such as how well the movie explores the theme, how well it fits into the documentary genre, quality of video and audio, accurate attributions etc.

This year’s edition of the Doc Challenge was organized with the help of the Office of Residence Life and Housing and the JMC Department providing once again an opportunity for creative expression on campus. The documentaries explored the concept of guilty pleasures in various forms and shapes. They touched upon issues such as the definition of freedom and happiness, drug addiction, eating disorders, transgender issues, and the importance of choices. 

“With our short film "Freedom in a Box," Elizabeth [Ivanova-Gibson] and I focused on the guilt we find in the pleasure of freedom, “said Asya Minkova, one of the creators of the winner of the Doc Selection Award. “I sometimes think my happiness is in all the freedom I've been given, but that doesn't ultimately make me happy all the time. It rather makes me think what's right and what wrong […] my freedom is my pleasure but also my guilt and in order to be happy, I'll carry it anywhere.”

One film seemed to resonate with the audience the most, winning both the Judges and the Audience Award – “Minus Ten” by Diana Elagina, Stefan Chilingirov and Plamena Matanova. The documentary talks about the more and more prevalent issue of eating disorders, and advises people suffering from the illness to seek help.

“Everyone should pay attention to the people around them and if they notice a friend or someone around them has this problem, offer to help and don’t let them hide, because this is a scary disease, one that kills,” urged Chilingirov.

Even though some hit harder than other, all of the documentaries were warmly accepted by the public, making the event a successful endeavor once again.

“For me, the best thing about this challenge, and we see this every year, is the enthusiasm and all the hard work that goes into producing these documentary shorts,” said Aurelija Uzunova, president of the AUBG Doc Club. “Personally, I was afraid of people downplaying the subject of their movies, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see that the movies made this year dealt with issues as relevant as always.”

Story by Nikol Meshkova

Photos by Bojan Mircheski

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