Successful Participation of New Bulgarian Films and Projects at the goEast Festival

in 12nd goEast Film Festival

by Maya Dimitrova

The latest goEast impressed with many interesting programs. The fact that there were two Bulgarian films in the Competition is a precedent reflecting the prestige Bulgarian cinema has gained in recent years at different festival forums, thus creating the chance for attracting international attention to a new wave looming at the Bulgarian cinematic shores.  The general impression was expressed by Nikolaj Nikitin who moderated a discussion dedicated to Konstantin Bojanov’s Ave. Nikitin is a member of the committee that selected the film for the Wiesbaden fest and for the Berlinale. He is also acquainted with the advances in the Bulgarian cinema, being a regular participant at the Sofia International Film Festival.  He noted that there are a new spirit and drive apparent in the presentation of Bulgarian cinema in international film forums.

In this respect, the self assurance of the Bulgarian filmmakers has grown, as demonstrated in Bojanov’s film. The theme sparked a debate and raised new questions that were addressed at the Bulgarian director and the French co-producer. The two noted the good cooperation and the creative spirit during their four year work. For the participants in the discussion it became evident that the new success of the Bulgarian films is due to their auteur format. Such a format is not dictated by the limited budget, but is a conscious choice to make films with a message. The originality of the plot and the involvement of the filmmakers with the problems of the characters are well exhibited in Ave. This reflects the young Bulgarians’ refusal to fit in the place forced on them by the New World Order.

Such macabre moods are in unison with the other films presented at the 12th goEast Fest. In this emotional scape, Bojanov and Vladimir Sholev, who directed Shelter (Podslon), are among the filmmakers who seek enlightment and the characters in their films find ways out even from dire straits. That is probably the reason those two features were presented in the section “Beyond Belonging — Exploring New Perspectives”, premiering  out of competition and targeting young viewers. That program was shown in Wiesbaden, Frankfurt and Meinz. Popular with the targeted audiences were the Students’ Section’s forum “Meet the Film Schools” and the Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The young age of the viewers and participants matched the age of the movies’ protagonists.

15 projects competed for the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prizes for International Cooperation between young German filmmakers and their partners from Eastern Europe. A team of German and Bulgarian filmmakers won the competition for the 3D Animation project – the grant is worth 70,000 Euros. The team consists of young graduates of film schools who already have realized projects and have won prizes from international film festivals. The first member of the team is Milen Vitanov, graduate of the Konrad Wolf Academy of for Film and Television (HFF)in Potsdam-Babelsberg. His graduation short My Happy End participated in many international festivals and received numerous prestigious awards, among them the Children’s Jury Award for Best Animated Film at the 2008 AnimaFest Zagreb in Croatia.  The other member of the team is Vera Trayanova, Milen’s co-writer. And there were other projects by young Bulgarian filmmakers in the competition.

The Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung for International Cooperation was one of the focus events of the closing ceremony.  The announcement of the prizes for young German and Eastern European Filmmakers in the festival cinema “Caligari” was anticipated with great interest by students and participants in the School Film Days.  The winners received financing for realizing their projects and applause from the audience. For those who did not win there was the assurance that the possibility remains open and they can be next year’s winners. Such was the message of hope conveyed by the festival’s director Gabi Babic. Franc Albers, the initiator of the training programs by Robert Bosch Stiftung strengthened that message. Outlining the reasons for supporting projects he clarified that they prefer the most outstanding ideas.

The supported projects of the young Bulgarian filmmakers will hopefully take a similar path to the two Bulgarian prized films at the 12th goEast Festival.