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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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Claudia Cardinale: An actor lives many different lives

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Claudia CardinaleIn the past couple of years you haven’t been appearing on the big screen that often, perhaps you don’t have offers for the more interesting roles that you want? Claudia Cardinale: That’s not true; I have been involved in various productions in recent years, mainly by younger directors. Last year I worked in Tunisia, which was the backdrop for Mehdi Ben Attia’s film Le fil, Istanbul (Signora Enrica) and then in New York for Joy de V. by a student of Werner Herzog. ...

Fridrik Thor Fridriksson: "“Long winters in Iceland predispose to creative work"

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Fridrik Thor FridrikssonThe Chairman of the International Jury Fridrik Thor Fridriksson is a phenomenal storyteller – not only in his films but also in an informal chat. On the day of the first show of his film Mamma Gogo at Sofia International Film Festival, we managed to have a  ‘walk and talk’ at high speed through his works, which have enriched the history of the cinema with masterpieces like Devil’s Island,  Cold Fever and the  well-known in Bulgaria Angels of the Universe, Nic...

Andrzej Zulawski: Good cinema does not walk on the ground

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Andrzej Zulawski- You shot your last film in 2000. What replaced cinema in your career? I have written 25 books and I have directed 13 films, so as you can see literature occupies most of my time. Ten years ago I went through a dramatic period in my personal life and Hemingway once said something I believe in too, “If it was a real love you’ll never fully recover from it.” A lot of things happened at once – personal problems which forced me to give up several projects in France an...

Goran Paskaljevic with a special screening at the 15th Sofia International Film Festival

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Goran PaskalevicPerhaps the most original Serbian director today is in Sofia for the meeting of the Bord of the European Film Academy. As a member of EFA Goran Paskaljevic took part in Sofia Meetings and he also found a time in his hectic schedule to talk with me about his last five films from Balkan Cabaret (1998) onwards. SIFF’s audiences are familiar with all of them. When I end working on a certain film I immediately start working on a new one. Balkan Cabaret (1998) is a film about...

AWARDS OF THE 15th SOFIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

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Dragomir SholevThe main programme of the 15th edition of Sofia International Film Festival ended on the 13th of March with a gala screening of Aleksei Uchitel’s film The Edge. The festival presented a total of 205 films from 53 countries from all over the world. Over 260 was the total number of international guests, amongst which were directors, producers, festival directors as well as media and film experts. The main Award Ceremony took place on the 12th of March in Hall 1 of the Nat...

Viktor Chouchkov: “It is not necessary for a production to have a huge viewer interest in order to say that it is good.”

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Viktor Chouchkov- This is the first selection of TILT in an international competition of a film festival, what are your expectations? The first participation of TILT in a competition was at Golden Rose 2010 where it won three awards – the jury’s special award, best male lead performance and a special award for Ovanes Torosian’s performance. So far we have participated at the festivals in Santa Barbara, US and Gothenburg, Sweden and many more, I can’t even remember all of them. But...

Danis Tanovic: I immediately felt at home in Sofia

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Danis TanovicProbably one of the most long-awaited guests and for sure one of the favorite directors of the audience especially of SIFF (since 2002, the year of No Man’s Land – the film, the Oscar, the wine, the whole story) Danis Tanovic finally came to Sofia to meet his devoted audience. After the screening of his new film Circus Columbia following the Ceremony of bestowing the awards of SIFF there is no need to talk. Circus Columbia is an original piece of artistic work, saying ev...

“Some Other Stories” about motherhood, presented in Sofia by the Slovenian producer Dunja Klemenc

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Dunja Klemenc Some Other Stories is a co-production between Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Ireland. Each of the five segments in the film has been shot by a team from one of the ex Yugoslavia countries. The common theme is that of motherhood and all the five stories place their protagonist in extreme situations where they ask themselves what does it take to be a mother, to give life… especially in a world that is far from hospitable. The stories, the a...

Hossein Keshavarz: "I made 'Dog Sweat' to celebrate the irrepressible energy of Iranian youth"

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Hossein Keshavarz- We live in a globalization nowadays, but if you have to compare the problems of the young people in Iran and the problems of the young people in the Western world, where are the main differences? If you asked me this a year or two ago, I would have said that there are not many differences.  Iranians are preoccupied by the same things that people in the rest of the world are preoccupied with – love, money, family. So most of the stories of the film are mundane – like ...

Bence Miklauzic: "The interest towards the others, co-habitation and solidarity are the main issues for the world today"

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Bence MiklauzicThe director of one of the films from the International Competition, Children of the Green Dragon, Bence Miklauzic, replied with a smile to the question that is asked to every guest of the festival, whether he has been to Bulgaria before, “It is my first time in Sofia, but my second time in Bulgaria. As a child, 20 years ago, I was also one of the tourists that came for their vacation to the Black Sea.” - Is the story of the unusual friendship between a Hungarian and a ...

Selim Gunes: I have been influenced by the new trends in cinema

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Selim GunesThe director's debut film White as Snow confirms the strong presence of recent Turkish films in SIFF international competition’s selection. Influenced by his own childhood, the snow and the story "Ayran" on Sabahattin Ali, Selim Gunes takes very high risks.  He stands behind the camera as a director after a long and successful career as a photographer, working in difficult weather conditions, and even  taking more risk with a child actor with no experience. Succee...

Paul Fraser: "I don’t think anyone really makes a film with the thoughts of awards in mind"

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Paul Fraser– My Brothers is your debut feature film as a director, but you have been also working as an actor and screenwriter – was it difficult for you to make this film? I feel like I have spent many years hanging around on film sets so although it was my debut it was by no means an alien environment. I was surrounded by a fantastic crew and three first time actors, so there was a perfect blend of experience and awe! We had a small budget and a short shoot so the main problems was...

Ognjen Sviličić about the Balkans, the festivals and everything

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Ognjen Sviličić, Sylvia ChristelThe famous Croatian film director Ognjen Sviličić, internationally renown with his movies Sorry for Kung Fu (2004) and Armin (2007), is coming to Sofia Fil Festival with his new film Two Sunny Days (feat. Silvia Kristel – an experiment, but also a natural decision, as the director says). Sviličić, who is also a musician from a new wave punk band, which he considers, joking, the Croatian version of the Festival Band of Stefan Kitanov, is a member o...

Joao Nuno Pinto: The sea remains a symbol of hope

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Joao Nuno Pinto As in Antonio Lobo Antunes’ novel South Of Nowhere (Os Cus de Judas, 1979), a novel, telling the story about the war in Angola, but being actually a story about Portugal, in the first feature film of the young Portuguese director Joao Nuno Pinto the story is about immigrants, but the subject is again Portugal. Joao Nuno Pinto was born in 1969 in Mozambique and his family, being Portuguese, immigrated to Portugal as refugees during another post-colonial war in Afric...

Alvaro Brechner: I like films that surprise me

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Alvaro Brechner: Alvaro BrechnerAlvaro Brechner was born in Montevideo in 1976. 12 years ago he leaves Uruguay and moves to Madrid where he starts working as a director. He has directed a number of short and documentary films and in 2009 he makes his feature debit with Bad Day to go Fishing (selected in the competition programme of the 14th Sofia International Film Festival). In 2011 he is back in Bulgaria as a member of the international jury of the Sofia International Film Festiva...

The producer Jozko Rutar: "Silent Sonata" is a war film without soldiers

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Jozko RutarBulgarian cinephiles know well the name of Jozko Rutar, the producer of Silent Sonata (A.K.A. Circus Fantasticus) from another cult Slovenian film, Jan Cvitkovic’ Gravehopping (2005). Director Janez Burger’s Silent Sonata is unique piece of cinema art, a kaleidoscope of reminiscent images, reminding of Fellini’s aesthetic, of Tarkovski to a certain degree and even to Hodorovski. It is a film essay on war and survival; a film with no dialogue, but not a silent movi...

Dimitar Kotsev – Shosho: The debates over Bulgarian cinema are heading in a strange direction

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Dimitar Kotsev – Shosho: Dimitar Kotsev – ShoshoWhy did you choose to adapt your own novel to the screen, rather than someone else’s? My novel is tied to my own life. As a debutant I thought that it would be better to work with something that I know well because it was obvious that I was going to have every possible obstacle come in my way. It was important to have my own story, one which I am comfortable and familiar with. And 20 years later I can spend the taxpayer’s mone...

Nick Whitfield and the ancient Bulgarian technics to drive away the ghosts

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Nick WhitfieldA brilliant British dark comedy or to be more specific: a sad story about our world and the world beyond disguised as a comedy; a story of a family and of a broken family and a story about the past that holds a grip on the present (as the director puts it). Nick Whitfield’s feature film debut Skeletons most definitely will touch a lot of people because it is a deeply emotional story told on the verge of economy and extravagance. One of the strongest titles in th...

Ben Berkowitz: We had been working with some really unique underground artists

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Ben Berkowitz 10 years ago Ben Berkowitz made his debut as a film director with a movie called Straightman (Benzfilm, 2001). The story in the film is about the friendship between a straight guy and a gay, but without any Hollywood clichés about falling in love, having sex, ect. ‘Just the story about two friends – one of them likes women, the other likes men – that’s it’, as the director describes it. Berkowitz’s intention in this film was to show the possible relationship bet...

Sylvia Kristel: I have no unfulfilled dream

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Sylvia Christel, photo by Studio Fo  Could you tell us about the storyline and especially your part in 2 Sunny Days? Did you know the director before? In 2 Sunny Days a small group of tourists get loose in the  mountains. I play a weird woman belonging to a sect, Christian Marain (82) played my Alzheimer stricken husband. But Maya Sansa and Bristol Pomeroy are the main characters and they play a couple in trouble. The film is about relationships. H...

Claudia Cardinale arrives for the first time in Bulgaria as a guest of Sofia International Film Festival

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“I don’t like the system of celebrities. I am a normal human being. I like living in Europe. I visit Hollywood often, but I never wanted to sign a contract and work there for a long period of time,” states the world famous Italian actress. The legendary actress arrives in Sofia as a special guest of the 15th jubilee edition of the Sofia International Film Festival. A gala screening of Luchino Visconti’s film The Leopard will take place on the 11th of March in Hall 1 of ...

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

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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 di...

WHITE AS SNOW at 15th SIFF

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WHITE AS SNOW 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 yog...

Interviews with Apichatpong Weerasethakul from Sofia International Film Festival 2011

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Apichatpong Weerasethakul: Vanessa McMahon interviews Apichatpong Weerasethakul                           During the 15th SOFIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in Sofia, Bulgaria, the film UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES (Thailand, 2010) screened to an international audience.    INTERVIEW WITH Apichatpong Weerase...

Sofia International Film Festival 2011

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At the 15th Sofia International Film festival (SIFF), ESSENTIAL KILLING (Poland, 2010) screened to an international audience. In 'Essential Killing' (2010) actor Vincent Gallo plays Mohammed, a Taliban from Afghanistan on the run from American soldiers through the mountains of Poland after slaughtering three American soldiers to bits. While I would not say this film is bad nor good, I would definitely say that it is very worth the time as it is certainly a film not soon to be f...

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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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