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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.




The film WHITE AS SNOW (Turkey, 2010) by writer/director Selim Gunes screened in Sofia during the 15th Sofia International Film Festival. The film is based on a short story called ARYAN by Sabahattin Ali about a young twelve year-old boy, Hasan, who lives in poverty in Turkey’s cold East Black Sea mountain area. He lives with his mother and two younger brothers while his father is in prison. In order to survive and provide for his siblings and mother, he sells a yogurt drink called Aryan to passersby, but it is too cold for the drink so he is unable to sell it and thus his family starves through the harsh winter days.


The film is beautifully shot using an experimental and poetic montage that leaves the viewer to piece together the story as it goes. Despite numerous warnings from the local pear seller, Kadir, to not walk home in the snow after dark, Hasan does so anyway and gets lost. Hasan freezes and falls in the snow, beset by dreams or illusions of his past with his father who is now in prison.


The film opens with the father’s arrest but many mysteries remain after the film ends, like how and why the father ended up in prison in the first place and for how long he has been there and if and when he will ever get out. Nothing is obvious in this film as the editing leaves just enough holes in the story for each viewer to make their own assumptions as to how it ends.


WHITE AS SNOW Is certainly nothing like I’ve seen before. While you might not understand all that happens in the film and leave the theater full of questions, the haunting images, stunning photography and emotion-filled expressions will stay with you long after seeing the film.

Written by Vanessa McMahon, March 21, 2011

  Director of WHITE AS SNOW Selim Gunes speaks to press about his film.

The film was produced by Nur Gunes

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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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