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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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How did “Sofia Meetings” exact­ly help in the production of movies of young Bulgarian filmmakers and in finding partners?

It helped in establishing contacts with extremely helpful and
experienced people, with sharing of the experiences of these people by
raising the level of writing the screenplays, screenwriting development,
the basics of the regula­tion mechanisms for doing co-produc­tions. It
turned into a know-how on how to do the things and how they happen.

Which are some of the emblem­atic films realized?

Let’s start with the movie Death of Mr. Lazarescu, which started the new Romanian wave by its selection at Cannes 6-7 years ago, The World is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner, which is currently the biggest Bulgarian co-production; Zincogra­ph, directed by Emil Hristov, the French co-production And If We All Lived Together
of the young director Stephane Robelin. These are projects which have
been also shot as movies. There are over 70% completion of the films
which have been presented as projects. This is a very good percent­age,
but when we talk about films, the quality is the most important thing
and we can not aim at a quantitative indica­tor. It is very good that
these projects were lucky, that they have happened and pleased the
audience. It is also necessary to pay attention to the Balkan screening –
films which are presented in closed screenings to the festival
repre­sentatives and distributors. Actually in recent years the impetus
in the Bulgar­ian filmmaking and the good festival career for most
Bulgarian films started from “Sofia Meetings.”

What are your expectations from Robert Bosch as a partner of the fes­tival?

Robert Bosch have been our tra­ditional partner for many years. A lot 
of Bulgarian short films have been able to benefit from their aid. I
will mention Boris Despodov, Andrey Paounov and Vessela Dantcheva who
were assisted in their short projects. For the first time we have a
training, which aims to inte­grate the countries of the Black Sea and
the Caucasian region, projects from Ar­menia, Georgia, Azerbaijan,
Moldova, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria. For one reason or another, the
educational system in filmmaking is not well developed in the region. Of
course, that has an impact on the projects themselves. The idea was to
gather young people, to meet them with the experts and to give them a
push to make movies.

What qualities, in your opinion, must a producer or a director have to make a good pitching?

It turned out that to make a good pitching is not an easy job! We have
planned one day before the start of “Sofia Meetings”, devoted to the
preparation of the participants of the festival on how to pitch. To tell
everything you want within 3-5 or 7 minutes is a mastery! You should
be able to sift out the most interesting for those who listen –
producers, funds’ rep­resentatives, distributors. They must be
fascinated. For example, in the elevator, you may come across the
producer you have chased for a long time and you must present your
project within 30-60 sec. Therefore you have to always be prepared and
to know what you are doing and to be able to formulate it in a few
sentences. Immediately to speak of figures, of what you need and where


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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