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Sofia International Film Festival

For 16th year Sofia International Film Festival will gather together in Sofia films, guests, stars, journalists and cinema fans from 9th until 18th March 2012. Featured in Variety’s Top 50 of cinema festivals, the event presents Bulgaria to the world as the host one of the important film festivals in Europe and takes place annually in March. What started as a thematic music film festival, went through 15 previous editions to become the cinema event of the year, bringing the current world cinema trends to the domestic viewers in Bulgaria and the latest in Bulgarian cinema to the rest of the world.

Since 1997 more than 1,600 feature films and documentaries have been screened within the festival’s framework. More than 1,000 distinguished guests have attended, including established professionals such as Wim Wenders, Volker Schlondorff, Katja Riemann and Karl Baumgartner (Germany), Alan Parker, Peter Greenaway, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Tony Palmer and David Mackenzie (United Kingdom), Nikita Mikhalkov, Andrei Konchalovsky, Karen Shakhnazarov and Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov (Russia), Jiri Menzel, Jan Sverak, Jan Hrebejk and Petr Zelenka (Czech Republic), Emir Kusturica (Yugoslavia), Krzysztof Zanussi (Poland), Otar Iosseliani (Georgia), Jean-Claude Carriere, Agnes Varda, Siegfried and Jacques Dorfmann (France), Assumpta Serna (Spain), Bent Hamer and Unni Straume (Norway), Jafar Panahi and Babak Payami (Iran), Jerry Schatzberg, Michael Wadleigh and Lech Kowalski (USA), Jos Stelling (the Netherlands), Mika Kaurismaki (Finland), Friðrik Þór Friðriksson (Iceland), Lone Scherfig (Denmark), Kornel Mundruczo (Hungary), Goran Markovic, Goran Paskaljević, Radivoje Andric, Dusan Milic, Srđan Karanović and Srđan Dragojević (Serbia) and many others.
The festival is organized by Art Fest under the auspices of the Municipality of Sofia and in partnership with the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, the National Palace of Culture, the National Film Center and the Bulgarian National Television with the support of the MEDIA programme of the European Commission, national and foreign cultural institutes and sponsors.
For its 10th anniversary as an international cinema event in the year 2010 named Year of Bulgarian Cinema, Sofia International Film Festival received as present the recognition from FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) - it was accredited as competitive festival specialized in first and second films. Since its creation the director of the festival has been Stefan Kitanov.


16th International Film Festival SOFIA FILM FESTIVAL

SFF is organized by Art Fest under the patronage of the Sofia
Municipality, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, the National
Film Centre and National Palace of Culture, with the support of the
programs MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus of the European Commission, UNESCO –
Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, national and foreign
cultural institutes and sponsors. The main sponsor of the 16th edition
of the festival is Jameson Irish Whiskey.

The 16th Sofia
International Film Festival will take place from 9 to 18 March 2012 in
Sofia, with preliminary screenings from 2 to 8 March in the House of
Cinema and an additional program from 19 to 29 March in Sofia, Burgas,
Plovdiv and Varna. The festival screenings will continue until April 5,
2012 in the House of Cinema.

The program contains 138 feature
films, 39 documentaries and over 80 shorts. The selected films will be
shown to the impatient audience in the traditional festival sections:
International Competition for first and second film, The Big Five,
Cinema today – Masters, Cinema tomorrow – Discoveries, New Bulgarian
Features, New Bulgarian Documentaries, Balkan Competition, Documentary
Competition, Jameson Short Film Award, etc.
The world famous
Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, winner of numerous awards from
prestigious festivals, will be a special guest of the 16th Sofia
International Film Festival and will receive the Sofia Award for his
contribution to cinema. He will present his latest film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,
which won the Grand Prix in Cannes'11. Sofia Award will be given to
three more directors: Bulgarian Georgi Stoyanov, who created the
unforgettable film stories The Penleve Case and A Cricket in the Ear
(which will be presented at a special screening at the cinema “Odeon”),
an author of the novel “Voucher California – Gulag”, and a President of
the Union of Bulgarian Filmmakers; Bosnian Danis Tanović, one of the
favorite artists of the Bulgarian festival (and not only festival!)
audience, “Oscar” winner for No Man's Land (who will have a retrospective as well); and British Hugh Hudson, whose debut film Chariots of Fire was awarded with 4 “Oscar”-s (you'll see it at the special Olympic gala after the Award ceremony of the SFF).

The festival starts on  March 9, 2012 with the premiere of the feature debut Ave
of the Bulgarian director Konstantin Bozhanov, which won the Special
Jury Prize at the IFF Sarajevo 2011, after participation in the Critics
Week in Cannes. The parallel official closing in Hall 1 of NPC and
cinema Lumiere  on March 18, offers the viewers a choice between the
winner  of the “Golden Bear”, “Golden Globe” and “Oscar” (for best
foreign language film) Separation of Iranian Asghar Farhadi and the documentary portrait Stoichkov
of Borislav Kolev, who will be honored by the presence of the film's
main character – the Bulgarian football superstar Hristo Stoichkov.

program of star titles will entertain the viewers in “Cinema City” –
the digital screen of the 16th Sofia International Film Festival. Only
there the viewers will have the chance to see “Golden Lion” from Venice
2011 – Faust by Alexander Sokurov, the latest film by Julie Delpy Sky Lab (Special Jury Prize at the San Sebastian'11), the screening after Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (directed by Andrea Arnold) and the 3D revelation of Wim Wenders Pina,
nominated for “Oscar” for best documentary. Another 10 films from the
festival program will have their special screenings in Cinema City.

2011 two Bulgarian films-premieres will participate in the
International competition, where for the tenth time will be awarded the
prize for best film (first or second feature film of directors from the
whole world).

The competition includes:
Ave – Bulgaria, director Konstantin Bozhanov
Future Lasts Forever – Turkey, director Özcan Alper
Magic Valley – U.S., director Jaffe Zinn
Faith, Love and Whiskey – Bulgaria, director Kristina Nikolova
Stories Only Exist When Remembered – Brazil – France – Argentina, director Júlia Murat.
Doll, the Fatso & Me – Germany, directed by Felix Stienz
Generation P – Russian director Victor Ginzburg
Father, Son and The Holly Cow – Poland, director Radek Węgrzyn
Holy Flying Circus – Great Britain, directed by Owen Harris
Adalbert's Dream – Romania, directed by Gabriel Achim
Fish'n'Chips – Cyprus, director Elias Demetriou
The Odds – Canada, directed by Simon Davidson

international jury will decide the main awards at the 16th Sofia
International Film Festival. Its president is British director David
Mackenzie and colleagues in the evaluation of the 12 films in the
competition program and the 12 short  candidates for Jameson Award will
be three other directors - Dragomir Sholev (Bulgaria), Olga Dihovichnaya
(Russia) and Jan Cvitkovič (Slovenia) as well as the producer Mark
Basher (France).

The traditional Festival Awards will be given,
and namely: for  Best Film, Best Director, Special Jury Prize, FIPRESCI
award, the audience award,  KODAK Award for best Bulgarian feature film.
The award for Best Balkan film for the first time will be judged by
special three-member jury:  Jim Stark (U.S., Producer), Anna-Felicia
Scutelniku (Moldova, Director) and Peter Zawrel (Austria, Expert).
Another jury will determine the winner of the award for best
documentary: Eldora Traykova (Bulgaria, Director), Ben Hopkins (UK,
Director) and Jay Weissberg (U.S. journalist, “Variety”). For the first
time this award will be provided by UNESCO.

For the tenth time
will be awarded the prize JAMESON for best Bulgarian short film – a
statuette and a prize of 6000 Euro. This award is a joint initiative of
Sofia International Film Festival and Jameson Irish Whiskey. The
Selection Committee, composed of: Kamen Donev – actor and director,
Genoveva Dimitrova – film critic, Krum Rodriguez –  cameraman, Marian
Valev – actor and  Pavel Vesnakov – director, winner of the JAMESON
2011, determined the 12 finalists in the competition. Which of the films
will receive the award for 2012 – this will be decided by the
international jury.

Within the program “Focus Romania” Sofia Film
Festival 2012 will present some of the most important names and films
from the Romanian new wave – ten years giddy rise of cinema, which
astonished the world festivals and returned the audiences back to
authors’ movie language. In partnership with the Transilvania
International Film Festival, in the panorama of SFF are included 10
Romanian titles since the beginning of XXI century: the winner of the
“Golden Palm”– 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (directed by Cristian Mungiu), 12:08 East of Bucharest of Corneliu Porumboiu,  awarded a Grand Jury Prize at the Berlinale If I want to whistle, I whistle (directed by Florin Serban), Love Sick of Tudor Giurgiu, Tuesday after Christmas of Radu Muntean, Loverboy (directed by Catalin Mitulescu), California Dreamin’ (directed by Cristian Nemescu), The Happiest Girl in the World (directed by Radu Jude), The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (directed by Cristi Puiu) and the selected for the competition of SIFF 2012 Adalbert’s Dream
(directed by Gabriel Achim). A lot of famous artists from our northern
neighbor  will visit Sofia, as the producer, director and festival
director Tudor Giurgiu, directors Catalin Mitulescu and  GabrielAchim,
the actress Ada Kondeescu, the producer Daniel Mitulecku, etc.

program of the 16th edition of Sofia International Film Festival also
includes “Focus Ireland”, organized by courtesy of the Embassy of
Ireland in Bulgaria. Among the 6 titles there are well known to the
Bulgarian audience titles as Once and Breakfast on Pluto and not shown in Bulgaria films as Kisses, starring Stephen Rea, Parked, Sensation and The Pier, whose screening on March 17 –St. Patrick’s Day – will be the  Irish Gala of the Festival.

the 16th Sofia International Film Festival will be held the
International Forum of UNESCO entitled “Balkan visions –creativity for
the future in South – East Europe”." That special event will be a part
of the program of Sofia Meetings and will take place on March 17, 2012
in the Army Club. Over 20 leading experts in the field of culture from
the region will come specifically to participate in the Forum. United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
actively supports the 16th Sofia International Film Festival and will
award the prize in the competition for best documentary.

Thanks to
the traditional long collaboration between British Council and Sofia
Film Festival, Bulgarian audience will be able to see over 15 films,
divided into the different sections of the festival program, whose
culmination are the Olympic gala – the movie Chariots of Fire, presented personally by the director Hugh Hudson, and the special screening of Perfect Sense, presented by the director David Mackenzie. Emphasis in the SFF 2012 program is also the retrospective “Dickens at the cinema”.
the special events at the Sofia Film Festival 2012 are the Gala of the
Stars and the Gala of the tolerance. The starry night (March 18) will
offer a screening of the movie And If We All Lived Together?,
(started as a project of Sofia Meetings in 2008) of  Stéphane Robelin,
for which have been invited Geraldine Chaplin, Pierre Richard, the
director Stéphane Robelin and the producer Christophe Bruncher.  The
Tolerance Gala (March 16) will meet the viewers with nominated for
“Golden Palm” in Cannes11 Le Havre of the cult director Aki Kaurismäki.

dear guests of the Festival 2012 we expect the German star Til
Schweiger,  who together with Sancho Finzi and the producer Thomas
Zickler will present the blockbuster Cock in wine
– the German gala of the Festival; the favorite of several generations
of Bulgarian viewers actor Ljubiša Samardžić, who arrived to Bulgaria
for the regional premiere of The Scent of Rain on the Balkans; and the veteran of Italian cinema Giuliano Montaldo, whose latest film The Interpreneur is included in the section “Cinema today – Great Masters”.

Among the guests of the festival are also:
The German actress Katja Riemann – she will present her film Theory of Relativity of Love, in which she performs five roles.
The Israeli director Eran Kolirin (The Exchange) – we will meet him in Sofia four years after the presentation of the cult film The Band's Visit.
The Director of the UCLA School of Music in California Tim Rice, who will present his directorial film May It Fill Your Soul
about the Bulgarian musicians Varimezovs family, together with the
Bulgarian Valentina Ganeva, the film editor, who lives in the U.S. more
than 20 years.
The promising Russian director Angelina Nikonova arrived in Sofia to present her feature debut Twilight Portrait, in which the member of the jury Olga Dihovichnaya  performs the main part.
Alexander Mindadze, considered one of the best contemporary Russian writers and directors, will present at the SFF 2012 Innocent Saturday – the first Russian feature film about the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl.
In 2012 again a guest of the festival will be the unique Siegfried, with his latest film Kids Stories.
 After a few days in Sofia the German Veit Helmer will present the challenging, unconventional love story Baikonur.
The American director and screenwriter Michael Di Jiacomo came with the contemporary urban fairy tale Somewhere, Tonight, where John Turturro is starring.
emphasis in the festival program, the latest item at the 16th Sofia
International Film Festival is “CINEMA AND WINE”, realized in
partnership with Domaine Boyar. Expect surprises and more information
after the start of the festival.

In 2012 we again will make the
loyal film fans happy with the heading “The Big Five”, which includes
films that have won the major awards at the top five film festivals in
the world – Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Toronto and Sundance. Besides the
already mentioned Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, among them are the latest film by Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne – The Kid with a Bike (Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, tied with Once Upon a Time in Anatolia); one of the most discussed films of 2011 – The Turin Horse of the  icon of the author cinema Béla Tarr (Grand Jury Prize at Berlin'11); Faust of the great Russian filmmaker Alexander Sokurov (“Golden Lion” in Venice'11); the Italian Terraferma of Emanuele Crialese (Special Jury Prize – Venice'11) and the Norwegian film Happy, Happy, full-length debut of Anne Sewitsky (Grand Jury Prize and a Prize for directing at Sundance'11).

The Slovenian accent in the program of 16th SIFF 2012 is the film The State of Shock
– a black comedy about capitalism and the changing social values in
Eastern Europe, whose premiere will happen in the presence of the
director Andrej Kosak, the actors Martin Marion and Nikola Kojo and the
composer of the soundtrack Stephen Valdobrev. The film is included off 
the Balkan competition program of the festival. Among the titles that
will compete for the prize for Best Balkan film are the Bulgarian movies
Ave and Sneakers, the Romanian Loverboy and Adalbert’s Dream, the participants in the international contest The Future Lasts Forever and Fish’n’chips and
6 other titles from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia,
Slovenia and Turkey, to which we will dedicate a special press release.

the program “Cinema today – Masters” the viewers again will be able to
see the latest movies of one of the leading directors of contemporary
cinema. Among the 20 titles are Arirang of Kim Ki-duk, Trishna by Michael Winterbottom, The Woman in the Fifth of Pawel Pawlikowski, We Need to talk about Kevin by Lynne Ramsey, the new film by Veit Helmer – Baikonur, which will be presented by the director, as well as  Kids Stories by Siegfried,  presented by the author, etc.

program “Cinema tomorrow – Discoveries” includes films of some of the
hottest discoveries in the world cinema during the past year, including Las Acacias of  Pablo Giorgelli (award “Golden Camera” from Cannes'11), The Future by Miranda July (from the competition program of the Berlinale'11), The Exchange of Eran Kolirin (from the competition of Venice'11), Somewhere, Tonight,
starring John Turturro. The only lady from the international jury –
Olga Dihovichnaya, will have the opportunity to present to the Bulgarian
audience Angelina Nikonova’s movie Twilight Portrait. The director will be in Sofia, too.

Among the highlights of the 16th Sofia International Film Festival are the special premiere of the movie Spain (directed by Anja Salomonowitz), the gala screening of Metropolis
(directed by Fritz Lang) with piano accompaniment by Marcus Horne (in
partnership with the Goethe-Institut,  as well as the whole German
program of the festival), the South African gala with the movie District 9 (admission free!, in partnership with the Embassy of South Africa) and the Bulgarian premiere A Late Summer’s Night (Austria, directed by Bernhard Kammel), presented by actors Sofia Kuzeva, Martin Geraskov and Christa Cherneva.

legendary filmmakers will be honored with representative panorams,
included in the SFF 2012. These are the Italian classic Ettore Scola
(supported by the Italian Institute), Czech director Milos Forman from
the time “before taking off” to the great fame across the Atlantic (in
partnership with the Czech Centre) and the Polish master Andrzej Wajda
(supported by the Polish Institute).

The Bulgarian cinema will
present films, completed after March 2011. Among the titles, except the
two films, included in the competition program – Ave and Faith, Love and Whiskey,  for the first time to the festival audience will be presented Migration of the Belted Bonito,
directed by Lyudmil Todorov, featuring Hristo Mutafchiev, Stephen
Valdobrev and Velko Kanev. There are many Bulgarian documentary
premieres. Among them are Stoichkov by Borislav Kolev, The Man and the Nation  by Svetoslav Ovcharov (about Todor Zhivkov), The Boy Who Was a King by Andrey Paunov (about Simeon Saxe-Coburg–Gotha, the Bulgarian gala of the festival), City of Dreams by Svetoslav Draganov, Film Destiny by Nikola Korabov, To the Left of the London-Calcutta Highway by Michail Meltev, Random Guests from a Passing Train by Antony Dontchev, etc. Dad Made Dirty Movies
(directed by Jordan Todorov), dedicated to the Bulgarian Stephen
Apostolof , a famous Hollywood director of erotic films from the 60s and
70s, will represent Bulgaria in the Documentary competition. The son of
the director – Christopher Apostolof and the actress Nadezhda Dobrev
will be guests at the premiere of the film. Expect more details about
the full Bulgarian program.

For the first year in the program of
Sofia International Film Festival is included as a special emphasis a
presentation of the International Film Festival “Millennium”,
established in 2009 by Lyubomir Georgiev and Zlatina Ruseva. This is the
only worldwide festival dedicated to the “Millennium Goals”, an
independent initiative, supported by the UN and many international and
European organizations. The success of the first three editions of the
festival is due to the quality of the presented films and the big number
of  debates and seminars, which  accompany the event. Seven
documentaries will be presented to the festival audience in Sofia. The
Gala of Millennium is the screening of My Barefoot Friend on March 10 at  the House of Cinema.

the first time before the official opening of the Sofia Film Festival,
in the House of Cinema there will be a supporting film week. It includes
films from the program New Bulgarian cinema; some of the titles from
the “Focus Romania”; the  special premiere of the latest film by Alexey
Balabanov – Stoker, and the Gala of the European Parliament (March 8) in partnership with the French Cultural Institute,  when Snows of Kilimanjaro
(directed by Robert Guédiguian), winner of the "LUX" award, will be
presented by the actress Ariane Ascaride,  and the screening will be
followed by a discussion with specially invited professionals from
different areas of the Bulgarian cultural life.

Expect further
details about some of the entries in the program, which are presented
very briefly here, as well as background information for participants in
the documentary competition, about the curious rubric from the 16th
Sofia Film Festival “The worst films of the world" and other interesting

We expect over 250 foreign guests on the 16th Sofia
International Film Festival. Some of them will come especially for the
ninth edition of the Sofia Meetings, which traditionally brings together
the elite of the European film industry. Projects for first, second and
third films will be presented in public to fund managers, producers,
distributors, institutions representatives and journalists. The local
and regional films will be screened to the festival directors and
selectors. Two of the highlights of the festival have launched as
projects of Sofia Meetings – the film Archeo
of one of the members of the international jury Jan Cvitković, a
co-production between Slovenia and Hungary participates in the Balkan
competition of the 16th Sofia Film Festival, and the film by Stéphane
Robelin And If We All Lived Together? is the Gala of the Stars in the program of the SFF 2012.

support in educational initiatives of Sofia Meetings, provided by the
British Council, helps four workshops to be realized, two of which
present the potential of digital technology in the world of cinema.

Among the special events, included in the program of Sofia International Film Festival, is the premiere screenings of Ave,  The Boy, Who Was a King and Dad Made Dirty Movies
– launched and presented as a project of Sofia Meetings. Most Bulgarian
films, the program highlights of the 16th Sofia International Film
Festival are presented as a project of Sofia Meetings.

For the
fifth consecutive year the Robert Bosch Foundation, supporting shorts,
documentaries and animation co-productions between Germany and Eastern
Europe, will present its award - The Co-production Prize within the
Sofia Meetings. For the first time within the Sofia Meetings will be
held a three days workshop with teams of young filmmakers from Armenia,
Azerbaidzhan, Georgia, Romania, Ukraine, Moldova, Bulgaria and experts
and producers from Germany. The program aims to introduce the young
producers and directors in planning and realization of the international

Main sponsor of Sofia International Film
Festival is Jameson Irish Whiskey, with the special support of the Grand
Hotel Sofia (the official hotel of the festival), in partnership with
Sofia Auto (the official festival road carrier), Bulgaria Air (the
official carrier of the festival), FPI (“Crystal Palace” hotel and
“Arena di Serdika” hotel – the official hotels of the festival), Hotel
“Central Park”, Domain Boyar, Best Western Thracia Hotel, UNESCO, the
Robert Bosch Foundation, LVT Sofia – Laser Subtitling, Kodak Cinelabs
Bulgaria, Stars Travel,  British Council, the Italian Cultural
Institute, U.S. Embassy, Goethe Institute, the Embassy of the Republic
of Ireland, the Czech Cultural Centre, the Polish Institute, the French
Institute, the Embassy of Finland, the Austrian Embassy, the Embassy of
Switzerland, the  Embassy of the Republic of Turkey.

The Festival
is being dressed by “Gene Style” and Drago & Rado, and for the
attractiveness of the team takes care Mitko Damov.

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About Sofia International Film Festival

International film festival for feature films, documentaries and shorts (mainly Bulgarian). Main themes: International competition for first and second films, Balkan & Bulgarian cinema, Cinema Europe, World screen, retrospectives.



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