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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 Co-Production Prize choose Sofia to expand its workshops for young Eastern European filmmakers

Karin SchyleThis year the Robert Bosch Stiftung carried out a training for short and documentary projects with a focus on Black Sea and Caucasus during Sofia Meetings.
Three teams (director and producer) from the Caucasian countries
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, three teams from the Black Sea countries
Moldova, Romania, Ukraine and further four teams from Bulgaria were
invited to participate in it. The event was organized in cooperation
with the partners of Тhe Co-Production Prize
of the Robert Bosch Stiftung: Yerevan Golden Apricot Filmfestival
(Armenia), Narimanfilm MMC (Azerbajjan), The Georgian National Film
Center (Georgia), ALTFilm (Moldova), Hifilm Productions (Romania),
Odessa Film Festival (Ukraine) and Sofia International Film Festival
(Bulgaria). During the three days of the event the participants learned
more about the Co-Production Prize and watched Co-Production Prize
winners, went through a pitching introduction and training with expert Gabriele Brunnenmeyer
(who was a member of the International Jury in last year’s edition of
SIFF), presented their respective projects on a public pitch, had the
chance to listen to Berlinale’s delegate for Eastern Europe Nikolaj Nikitin
sharing useful tips on festival strategies and to Miroslav Mogorovic’s
introduction to calculation. In further coaching and one-to-one sessions
with the German producers they had the opportunity to develop their
project ideas a step further. For most of the young talents this was the
first possibility to meet with international producers and to receive
support for their project development.

We talked with The Co-Production Prize coordinator Karin Schyle about the results from the workshop.

did you decide to organize this event during Sofia Meetings and why did
you pick up projects specifically form Caucasian and Black See

The Co-Production Prize exists already 8
years now and in order to apply for the prize you need to have a team of
Eastern European and German members. Very often for Eastern European
and German filmmakers is not easy to find each other and we want to help
them in that. We’re not only partners with SIFF for a long time, but
Stefan Kitanov is a jury member of the Co-Production Prize, and we
organize similar events in Sarajevo IFF, or during Go East Festival in
Wiesbaden, for example. We decided to expand our workshop in order to
give a better example to Eastern European filmmakers what it is like to
be in a festival, how to pitch your project and how to make valuable
contacts. We’ve been participating in SIFF for 5 years now but in a
smaller scale. This year we extended our focus and we invited not only
Bulgarian but also young filmmakers from Caucasian region and other
Black Sea countries because last year we went to Caucasian countries and
we decided to start working with them as well.

What were the criteria for the selection of the projects for this workshop?

contacted our partners in these countries and asked them to recommend
us at least 2 projects and we selected one of them. We’ve been looking
for good stories, of people with at least some experience, and we wanted
to understand whether those people are really a team and could work
together not only during the workshop.

What are the results from the workshop?

are several results. Some people realized that they have to further
develop their projects in order to apply for The Co-Production Prize,
some participants made valuable contacts with German producers who came
also for the workshop. The most important thing is that everybody
learned more about the process of preparing for the pitching of their
projects during the one day intense pitching training. And thanks to it
on the next day we witnessed that the participants really transformed
their pitches in a positive direction. Curiously enough we heard form
one of our German producers that some of our pitches were better than
some of the pitches for Second and Third film during Sofia Meetings!
This means that we’ve done a good job. Unfortunately there’s still
nothing like our workshop and trainings in Bulgaria, so organizing an
event like this during the festival proves to be very useful. Plus,
young filmmakers get the feeling of what happens in a real festival and
how to best find your way in it.     

Did any of the German producers like some of the projects?

brought 5 producers and one of them already decided to make a
production with the Azerbadjan team – not with the project they
introduced, but with another that they have. Another producer said that
she wants to follow two of the presented projects. And the rest of the
producers also would like to follow 2 or 3 projects and maybe in the
future they will decide to work on some of them.

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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