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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.

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Yves Marmion: I feel the good vibes around Sofia International Film Festival

Yves MarmionYves Marmion is one of the leading European producers with titles such as Arizona Dream, The Apartment, I Loved You for So Long, among others in his biography. He is also the Chairman of the European Film Academy
(EFA) and as such he came to Sofia during the 15th edition of Sofia
International Film Festival along with his colleagues from the EFA’s
managing board for one of their working meetings.  

- Could you tell me how did your session go today? Are you able to discuss the topics that were included in it?

We
had one of our regular board meetings today, as we have them four times
a year. We had an ordinary meeting with three new members and it was
quite interesting to welcome them. We also discussed the next European
Film Award ceremony and how to adjust it to the new conditions. We try
every year to make EFA work better and better. We had a good session and
I am satisfied with the results. After a long discussion we found an
agreement on all the different propositions to improve our system that
were laid on the table.

- Why did you choose to have your board meeting here, during the Sofia International Film Festival?

This
is following the good habit to take the board out of Berlin in order to
meet other colleagues and local talent. In this particular case also
Stefan Kitanov is a very good friend of EFA and when he proposed to
invite us we thought that this is a very good idea. We never had a board
meeting in the Eastern part of Europe. It is a good way to work and a
good way to discover new talents.

- Where would you place Sofia International Film Festival and its professional event, Sofia Meetings, on the map of European film festivals?

That’s
a difficult question to answer. I think that it is a part of the
network that is developing from many, many film festivals and you don’t
need to be in Cannes, or Venice, or Berlin in order to do business or
meet people anymore. I think that the pitching sessions here also are
quite interesting and valuable for a lot of young talents and producers.
I can’t say much more than that because it is always difficult to
compare and I don’t go to all the festivals. But I just feel the good
vibes around here.

- Did you have any chance to witness
some of the pitching sessions or to participate in some of the other
events during Sofia Meetings?

No, because I arrived just
yesterday. Some of my colleagues though witnessed some of the pitching
sessions and found them to be quite interesting.

- EFA
tries to find a bridge between the business and the talents, the
creativity and the people with money who produce films. Do you also try
to extend this bridge towards the audiences?

The European
Film Awards are trying to present a specter of the European cinema and
it is always a mix of films being very successful and remarkable by
their qualities but not necessarily by their box office success. We have
2000 members all over Europe and it is a constant mix of wanting to
reward the films that did best all over Europe and at the same time to
give recognition to quality cinema that did not do very well in
theaters. We try to find a balance between these two sides of the same
business.

- One of the aims of the EFA, as far as the
website states it, is to develop different events all year long in order
to promote European film culture in Europe and beyond. Could we talk
about the practical outcome of those events? How do you measure this
outcome?

I think we have to be very modest. The Academy
is mainly working on setting up those awards. This is a long process all
along the year, but we also manage to organize master classes, which we
call Sunday in the Country. These are basically long weekend for young
directors on a specific theme. Last year we had for example a master
class on 3d with the best 3d expert in Europe, the French Alain Derobe,
which was quite interesting. We also organize a tour of the best short
films. Following them all year long is also a time taking process
because we follow all the short film festivals which eventually form our
selection. (The nominated titles for the European Short Film Award are also screened during Sofia International Film Festival – n. ed.)

Our
biggest event, off course, is the ceremony of the European Film Awards
and every second year we try to find a city to be our partner and host
because every second year it has to be in a city different from Berlin.
Then we have to make the selection of the films and to make sure that
all the films get an equal chance and to also prevent any cases of
piracy because nowadays everybody is very conscious to send their film
to the 2000 people. For that we also started working with VODs because
they are safer.

Piracy is a big issue all over Europe. In France
now have a new authority which stated that it’ll start fighting piracy
on the web but we still have sellers in the subway, for example, who
offer very old and also very recent films titles which was not the case 2
years ago. So, despite all the efforts, piracy is a blossoming
activity.

- How do you balance you duties as a Chairman of EFA with your career as a producer?

I
have the chance to have a very strong team with Marion Doring as head
of our Secretariat, so it doesn’t take so much of my time. When there
are questions to be discussed or when there’s a Board meeting, I am
there. It is also always a pleasure to travel several times a year to
different European capitals for Board meetings, or ceremony.

- What are your main responsibilities as a chairman?

I
must have an overlook of day-to-day decisions, to make sure we’re going
in the right way, to react when necessary as we did on many occasions
like with the recent case of a need to support MEDIA programme. I also
preside over the Board meetings where you have 15 or 16 members with
very different origins and visions of the European cinema. One needs
someone to finally smooth down everything, to find a compromise, if
necessary. And I also try to think what we can do to have more members
and to create this feeling that no matter that we are from different
countries, we are representing European cinema as a whole. Bulgarian
members, as well as other nationalities, should have the feeling that
they participate in something above their national identification. For
example, Stefan Kitanov is very helpful for us when we finalize our
first selection he works with us and he shares with us his knowledge for
the Eastern European cinema.

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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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