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in 7th Sofia International Film Festival

by Nikolaj Nikitin

Being part of the first FIPRESCI jury at the 7th edition of the IFF Sofia was a real pleasure, due to a very balanced program, interesting sidebars and a very professional team, as well as being very informative concerning the state of Bulgarian Cinema.

But not only has the festival been an huge success compared to the previous years, also the Bulgarian film industry as a whole has been developing in a positive way in the last years. Beside the international program and the other sidebars, the festival presented the newest Bulgarian films for selectors of the leading film festivals worldwide and gave a good overview on what goes on in Bulgaria.

Stefan Kitanov, apart from being the festival-director, has also been working very successful as a producer for features and documentaries in the past years. His latest movie, »Rhapsody in White”, for example, was awarded the FIPRESCI award in Kiev in 2002, and his newest project will be a co-production with the established European company Pandora. There is also much hope in a new law, whitch is supposed to be passed soon and will make more state money available for film productions. Right now, yearly production averages 10 films (half of them on film, the other half on digital material). -Until 1990 there even used to be between 40-45 but in the mid 90ties the production went down to 2-3 films a year. Once in a very bad condition, the Boyana Studios are now equipped with everything needed in modern film production and have a state of the art postproduction facility as well. Boyana is close to the festival and even offered to be a part of the next movie by the winner of the Bulgarian national short film program called “Yellow”.

American production companies now begin to see Sofia as an alternative to Prague and Budapest. Despite the fact that the market share of national movies at the box office was quite poor in the past, the film that received our special mention, “Emigrants”, did quite well. There is definitely a big potential in the Sofia IFF and in the Bulgarian film industry.

Nikolaj Nikitin