17th Sofia International Film Festival

Bulgaria, March 7 - March 17 2013

The jury

Alexandra Zawia (Austria), Eithne O'Neill (France), Penka Monova (Bulgaria)

Awarded films

For this 17th edition of a dynamic festival, among the ten entries for the international award are five first feature films from both home and abroad. A Month in Thailand, a bitter-sweet Romanian comedy by Paul Negoescu, competes with Mona, a tale of passion bythe woman — director Inãra Kolmane, in a Latvian-Icelandic coproduction. Panihida (meaning funeral), a return to roots by Ana-Felicia Scutelnicu from Moldavia, contrasts with the Bulgarian July by Kiril Stankov, about a lost generation of three women in the backlands, while Sharqiya by Israeli director Ami Livnedescribes brotherly strife in the desert.

In competition for the Grand Jury award, the acclaimed and Oscar-winning Love by Michael Haneke and Kim-Ki-Duk’s Pieta tackle grave human dilemmas with drama and irony, unlike the lighter vein of François Ozon’s In the House or Radu Jude’s comedy Everyone in the Family which provides biting satire. The section Balkans Competition includes Bulgaria’s Emil Hhristov with The Color of the Chameleon and Turkey’s well-known Dervis Zaïm with Cycle. From the Republic of Serbia, Myrosalv Momcilovic’s single-shot film Death of a Man in the Balkans is an uncompromising portrayal of present-day life. Out of competition, festival-goers are treated to both a selection of foreign releases, including Holy Motors and Beyond the Hills and national premieres such as Alienation by Milko Lazarov. Opening the Festival, Vitosha, a Bulgarian documentary named after the mountain in the National Park near Sofia and directed as his second full-length film by Lyubomir Mladenov bodes well for the documentary program. This year’s Sofia Award for outstanding achievement to the cinema goes to the actor Itzhak Finzi, famous for his role in Elegia by the Russian director Eduard Sachariev. Twelve films constitute the homage paid to the Taviani Brothers, winners of the Golden Bear at Berlin 2012 for Caesar Must Die. Last but not least, Ulrich Seidl’s electrifying trilogy Paradise is screened, bringing to a fine art the Festival’s double axis of fresh talent and world masters. (Eithne O’Neill)

Sofia International Film Festival: www.siff.bg