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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.


VODО – between piracy and film industry

In 2006 a group of friends who call themselves The League of Noble Peers, shot the documentary Steal This Film. The subject of the film is the fight between world’s biggest torrent Piratebay and
several smaller, also based in Sweden websites, offering free but
according to a lot of countries’ laws, illegal downloading of films on
one hand, and Hollywood majors on the other. The film is notable for its
critical analysis of an alleged regulatory capture attempt performed by
the Hollywood film lobby to leverage economic sanctions by the United
States government on Sweden through the WTO. Evidence is presented of
pressure applied through Swedish courts on Swedish police to conducting a
search and seizure against Piratebay to disrupt its BitTorrent tracker
service. Off course this was only a temporary solution because even
though there were several law cases against the Swedish torrent, it
continues to function successfully even today. Steal This Film
was uploaded online, it could be downloaded for free and Piratebay
promoted it on its page. It has been downloaded 6, 5 mln. times since
then. It was shot with a budget of only $ 5000 and it has gained $
40 000 primarily from donations from its viewers.

it is still up there for free downloading it has been included in
several universities’ programmes. Several TV stations as well bought the
rights to broadcast it. The participants in Sofia Meetings also had the
chance to watch it. Steal This Film promotes the idea that
regular users are free to share content through internet in spite of the
laws protecting intellectual property. It also points out the new
reality of the existence of torrents which become major player in cinema
market and subjects it the free access that they give to the users
against the Hollywood monopoly.

Jamie King is one of the ‘peers’ from The League of Noble Peers and he’s also one of the founders of VODO – online platform that helps promote and distribute new creative works (cinema, music and books) all over the world and enables those enjoying shared media to make donations to creators. VODO started in late 2009 and as King said during his presentation at Sofia Meetings,
you may not agree with this kind of distribution, but you have to
admit, that it’s new and there is a place for it was well. The fact is
that since 2009 downloads on monthly basis on raised from
150 000 to 850 000, proves that he’s right. When
downloading films, the user becomes a distributor as well, he also
contributes in making popular new artists and through his downloads and
shares he contributes to the development of the film industry.

user is encouraged to sponsor the films that he downloads in an
original way – he could buy, for example, a credit – his name could be
included in the credit in a single episode.
VODO doesn’t restrict the artists to work only with them – they are free to upload their films on other platforms as well. VODO works with platforms like BitTorrent, uTorrent and others, platforms which have more than 10 mln. users on daily basis and through them VODO films could reach up to 65 mln. viewers daily. Users are encouraged to quote or post a link to the uploaded on VODO films.
Instead of fighting against free download of their films, the authors
should embrace this new distributing model and work with it, not against

According to Jamie King, VODO could
be a very popular platform for development of TV series, because every
single episode or their pilots could distributed online and this way the
interest towards them could be tracked down. From an advertising point
of view having a product advertisement in a film or episode uploaded on
VODO, is also good, because once the film is downloaded, it reaches a
certain target.
VODO works primarily with independent
films, a genre that is no longer as strong as it used to be in the 90s.
Because when independent films were very strong in the middle of the
90s, films like Reservoir Dogs for example, didn’t have a need
for certain platform other than a cinema hall. But now the distribution
of films which don’t have the marketing budget of a film of a major
Hollywood studio, should aim at online distribution.
VODO has
about 200 titles in its library. Our audience is mainly from the US,
then Canada, UK, India, Germany, France, Brazil. Brazil are the biggest
internet users and they spend an amount of time on the internet more
than anybody else.


Read the whole material 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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