The 23rd Sofia International Film Festival kicks off
by Ştefan Dobroiu
- Polish cinema takes centre stage in the Focus sidebar of the edition, which will screen 300 films from 7 to 17 March
The Sofia International Film Festival, Bulgaria’s most important film showcase and one of the most popular festivals in Eastern Europe, has already begun screenings for its 23rd edition on Thursday, 7 March. As many as 300 features and shorts, including some of the most recent Bulgarian productions, will be screened over the next 11 days in traditional and improvised venues.
The most eagerly awaited event of the first day is without doubt the screening of Andrey Paounov's Walking on Water [+see also:
film profile] (USA/Italy), a documentary that will reconnect Bulgarian audiences with the legendary environmental artist Christo, of Christo and Jeanne-Claude fame. The artist, now 83, is celebrated through a total of 11 documentaries grouped in a sidebar under his own name.
12 first or second features will be competing for the festival's top award, the Sofia City of Film Grand Prix, while an additional 12 features will be competing for awards in the Balkan competition section.
As always, Sofia IFF is an occasion to get acquainted with the newest Bulgarian features. Two of them, Lachezar Avramov’s A Picture with Yuki [+see also:
interview: Lachezar Avramov
film profile], a rare Bulgaria-Japan co-production produced by Chouchkov Brothers, and Dragomir Sholev’s The Pig [+see also:
interview: Dragomir Sholev
film profile], an independent feature produced by Gorilla Film, have a shot at winning the Grand Prix. An additional ten new features will join them in the New Bulgarian Features sidebar, with Tonislav Hristov's documentary The Magic Life of V [+see also:
film profile] (Finland/Denmark/Bulgaria) finally due to meet with Bulgarian audiences after a warm reception at Sundance.
Polish cinema takes centre stage in the Focus on Poland sidebar, while Krysztoff Zanussi, Bille August, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (whose Under the Wild Pear Tree [+see also:
film profile] will close the edition), Ulrike Ottinger and Trisha Ziff are due to have their work explored in various retrospectives and special screenings.
The 11-day event in Sofia will be followed by smaller editions in the cities of Burgas, Plovdiv and Varna. In addition to the main festival, Sofia IFF has organised the 16th edition of Sofia Meetings, which helps dozens of projects in development to meet new producers, festival organisers and world sales companies. Sofia Meetings kicks off on 13 March.
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