12nd Sofia International Film Festival
Bulgaria, March 6 - March 16 2008
The Sofia Film Festival, headed by Stefan Kitanov, was born twelve years ago as a rock films documentary festival. It has grown since as a focal point for cinema production on the Balkan, “where Europe doesn’t end nor really begins”, and is of course open to international independent films. Among the competition entries could be found Hong Kong, Dutch, English or German Films. The Festival dedicated focuses to directors such as the Russian Nikita Mikhalkov, the Dutch Jos Stelling and tributes to Turkish/German Fatih Akin and English Dom Rotheroe. Highlights of the festival were the premieres of the documentary Against the Stream (about Balkans music), which was met with rapturous applause by the audience, and the Bulgarian-German-Slovenian-Hungarian feelgood film The World is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner.
Among films of interest from the international competition, the jury was impressed by films which, by different means, are statements about Balkan countries. Even if it seems a cliché, they recall again the ambiguities of the transition from communism, where capitalism is a dead end and a way out at the same time: the bittersweet gangster romantic comedy Love and Other Crimes (by Serbian director Stefan Arsenijevic) and the symbolic drama I Am from Titov Veles (by Macedonian directress Teona Strugar Mitevska).
The FIPRESCI Prize went to the Bulgarian film Seamstresses (by Lyudmil Todorov): an honest and refreshing film about contemporary Bulgaria. It is told in a classical and neat way, and carried by three young, wonderful and gifted actresses, whose characters are torn between broken dreams and the beauty of hope. (Léo Soesanto)