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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.


Stefan Kitanov: “The Festival is 16, I feel a teenager”

After 15 successful editions of the Sofia International Film Festival, what more can surprise the viewers and loyal moviegoers?

Kitanov: Contrary to the economic stagnation, we remain true to
ourselves –over-ambitious and responsible in the selection of movie
titles and guests. The viewers will be surprised by the huge choice of
quality films and numerous guests of the festival, including “Oscar”
winners and the most prestigious film awards. There is no turning back.
When you play in the Champions League of the film festivals you are
expected to score goals, but also to play nice... But most important
thing is the team. Our team is very strong – I had the great luck to
work with such qualinternationally ity young people! They can easily
play in the teams of Cannes, Berlin, Venice. This year again two
Bulgarian films are included in the international competition.

Is this a trend or only a good coincidence?

Kitanov: There is nothing accidental. Bulgarian cinema is booming. This
year we present 12 new  films created since March 2011. I would like to
remind that two Bulgarian films participate in the Balkan competition
as well. One – in the documentary... I wish them success. The
competition is very strong. The films will be judged by exceptionally
qualitative juries.

Did you find some positive change in
the state policy towards the production and promotion of Bulgarian
cinema during the last year?

Stefan Kitanov: I’ll start
with the promotion. Still no government strategy for the promotion of
Bulgarian cinema exist. A recent example is the financing of the Sofia
International Film Festival. The Ministry of Culture thinks it
participates in the organization of the festival with funding through
the National Film Centre, which is wrong. Such European and global
practice does not exist. Nationally significant cultural events,
including in filmmaking, have the national targeted funding other than
the line institutions as a film center or others. We consider the
Ministry of Culture a co-organizer and a partner who is responsible for
the national policy of culture. The practice from the recent years
urgently needs to be changed and our cultural institution needs to know
how much capital it has and consciously to participate in its
development. The same is valid for the promotion of the Bulgarian cinema
abroad. There is an urgent need of establishing the Bulgarian film
promotion which, by funding and organizational resources, to care for
the Bulgarian film presentation at world film events such as Cannes and
Berlin as well as to support the promotion of Bulgarian films at other
important film festivals. We hope this to underlie in the new strategy
for Bulgarian cinema. After the inexplicable pause in funding the
filmmaking and the risk the Law of film industry to be changed and not
observed, the process is slowly recovering. Compliance with this Act
will ensure the sustainability of the process. This year we have a total
of 15 feature films. The question is what will we show next year!

Do you think a Bulgarian film may soon win an “Oscar” or “Golden Palm”?

Kitanov: Yes, why not! The next Five-Year Plan of the Sofia
International Film Festival – to 20th anniversary, this is one of the
goals we set for ourselves... I mean it! But that is a joint work. The
inclusion of The World is Big... in the shortlist of 9 titles nominated for an “Oscar” for a Foreign Language Film, the success of Eastern Plays at Cannes and Georgi and the Butterflies
in Amsterdam crowned the efforts of all in the past decade. The new
starts strongly! Two of the five Eastern European films at Cannes were
Bulgarian! It is logical to have even greater success. It is important
to be consistent and to appreciate the talented people you have. Let’s
wish this decade the world to talk about a New wave in the Bulgarian


Read the whole interview on SIFF's website


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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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