He is a Bulgarian film director, artist, animation artist, scriptwriter, producer, production designer, cartoonist, animation lecturer and the man who revived the World Festival of Animated Film in Varna after a ten-year break.
He created more than 70 animated films, documentaries, features and opera performances. His works have been awarded many prizes at international film festivals, among which are those at Annecy, Ottawa, Oberhausen, Krakow, New York, Chicago, Bratislava, Moscow, Varna and many others. He is a multiple winner of prestigious Bulgarian film awards like The Golden Rose, The Golden Rithon, the awards of the Union of Bulgarian Filmmakers, the Union of Bulgarian Artists and the Bulgarian Film Academy, as well as the Golden Century award.
His early film Hypothesis, created in 1976, made him a moving force of the radical neo avant-garde movement in Bulgarian animated cinema in the mid-seventies of the 20-th century. Films like Hypothesis, Cavalcade (1979), Bachelorette apartment (1979), Bagpipe (1982) among many others share a groundbreaking concept and style and transform the traditional thematic range by dealing with the anxieties, doubts, fears, neuroses and complexes of modern man. Later, in his trilogy, based on Stefan Tsanev’s book Annie’s tales and composed of the films Who sees farther than others? (1983), A tale of the road (1985) and How monkeys are descended from man (1987) Anri Kulev addresses a larger audience, but without resorting to aesthetic compromises. Being poetic and philosophical, these films combine paradoxical twists with the complexity of graphic style and well-considered directing strategies.
Anri Kulev’s creative style, characterized by nervous, complicated and jagged lines, gives birth to a peculiar play of the unbridled imagination. His later films based on Christo Ganev’s scripts – The Funnyman (1987), The Rag (2007) or Nonsense (2017) – bring back the issue of the destructive aspects of human civilization, but the motives of human kindness and bright prospects are also visible. The animated feature Lilly and the Magic Pearl, based on Valeri Petrov’ s book Pop! impresses the children with the unusually intriguing underwater world.
Anri Kulev’s contribution to Bulgarian cinema is complemented by his many documentaries and features. From the musicals I Dream of Music (1983) and Musicians (1984) to the philosophical films The Mystery of Veda Slovena (2012) and A book of silence (2015) Kulev is always among the most distinguished Bulgarian documentary filmmakers. His remarkable debut feature The Death of the Rabbit (1982) was banned from screening by the communist government, but later on he continued his creative experiments in the musical The Father of the Egg (1991), the fantastic mystical tale Zaches (2011) and the humorous Mrs. Dinosaur (2002) and The Sparrows in October (2006). His experiments brought him to the historic feature Once Upon a War (2019) which will be screened at the 24th Sofia Film Festival.
Anri Kulev was be presented with the Sofia Municipality Award for his contribution to the art of cinema in the summer of 2020.