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FESTIVALS Bulgaria

Mermaid makes award-winning splash at Sofia

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Russian director Anna Melikian’s fairytale movie Mermaid has done it again. After wins at Sundance in 2007 and the 2008 Berlinale, the film snagged the Grand Prix of the Sofia International Film Festival (March 6-23).

Melikian’s biggest contender, Serbian/German/Austrian/Slovenian drama Love and Other Crimes [+see also:
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by Stefan Arsenijevic, had to settle for the Cadilac Award for Best Directing. This first feature shines continues to shine a spotlight on Serbia’s powerful social dramas, both at the Berlinale and SIFF, where last year’s top winner was The Trap [+see also:
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There were no big surprises at the awards gala, with the five-director jury giving a Special Mention to filmmaker Threes Anna for “creating a unique and magical world” in her debut film, The Bird Can Fly (Holland/South Africa/UK). Cannes winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days [+see also:
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interview: Cristian Mungiu
interview: Oleg Mutu
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by Cristian Mungiu also won the Best Balkan Film Award given by the Bulgarian Film Critics’ Association.

In terms of local cinema, the Best Bulgarian Feature award went to The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner [+see also:
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Stefan Komandarev’s drama, starring Miki Manojlovic, about a young Bulgarian’s attempt to recover his memory after a car accident on the road to Germany. Best Bulgarian Short went to Petar Valchanov’s Family Therapy.

The impressive list of special guests was yet another highlight at this year’s SIFF: Nikita Mihalkov presented his Oscar nominated 12; legendary screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière attended the screenings of his latest two films, Goya’s Ghosts [+see also:
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and Ulzhan [+see also:
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; Fatih Akin was honoured in a special program; and Balkan star Manojlovic, who starred in the both 2007 and 2008’s prize-winning films. All were awarded for their Contribution to World Cinema.

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