19th Sofia International Film Festival
Bulgaria, March 5 - March 15 2015
The 19th edition of Sofia International Film Festival starts cold and white: unlike other years, it is still snowing quite heavily. But that’s not the only reason this year’s edition of Bulgaria’s most important film festival is special. This year marks 100 years of Bulgarian Cinema, witch shows in this year’s programme. Also, Unesco named Sofia one of UNESCO’s Creative Cities of Film.
In 1997 Sofia International Film Festival started out as a thematic music film festival, but is now one of Europe’s influential film festivals (featured in Variety’s Top 50). Now it is accredited as a competitive festival specialized in first and second films. Stefan Kitanov has been creative director of the festival since its beginnings. In almost 20 years of the festival, more than 1600 feature films and documentaries have been shown. It displays the latest film trends of Bulgarian cinema to international visitors as well as showing local public trends from the rest of the cinematographic parts of the world.
This year, the festival presented a total of 224 films from over 60 countries from all over the world. Besides the international competition, the documentary competition and the Balkans competition, this year’s festival also conducted programmes such as Films of the New Bulgarian Cinema– after 1990, Bulgarian film classics made prior 1989 and New Bulgarian Features.
Several juries awarded films and filmmakers at Saturday’s Award Ceremony, on the 14th of March in the National Palace of Culture.
Overall, the big winner of this edition of Sofia International Film Festival was The Lesson by directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov. Not only did this Bulgarian-Greek film production take the Sofia City of Film Grand Prix Award (awarded by the International Jury for First and Second Feature Films: director and jury president Stephan Komandarev (Bulgaria), festival director Jay Jeon (Korea), producer Zeynep Atakan (Turkey), director Levin Koguashvili (Georgia), festival director Ilda Santiago (Brazil) and director and honourable member Oleg Sensor (Ukraine) (Who was arrested in his home town of Simferopol, Crimea, in May 2014. Since then he has been locked up on false charges in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo prison and refused access to representatives of the Ukrainian government.).
The FIPRESCI Jury members, Margarita Chapatti (Spain), Maricke Nieuwdorp (The Netherlands), Lyudmila Dyakova (Bulgaria), handed the FIPRESCI Award to, again, The Lesson. The film also received the Award for Best Bulgarian Feature Film, as well as the Audience Award.
Some of the other winners of this year’s festival were: We’re Young, We’re Strong (Burgan Qurbani, Germany) which received the Special Jury Award; The Award for Best Director went to Gabor Reisz for his film For Some Inexplicable Reasons (Hungary); Special Mention for Best Director went to Andres Clariond Rangel for his film Hilda (Mexico); Millennium Award for Best Documentary went to The Look of Silence (Denmark-Finland-Indonesia-Norway-UK) by Joshua Oppenheimer; the Domaine Boyar Award for Best Balkan Film went to Come to My Voice (Turkey-France-Germany) by director Huseyin Karate and in that same category (Balkan Competition), the Award of the Bulgarian Guild of Film Critics went to Why Me? (Romania-Bulgaria-Hungary) by Tudor Giurgiu. (Maricke Nieuwdorp)
Sofia International Film Festival: www.siff.bg