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9th Sofia Film Festival Awards
OSCARS shining at the 9th International Sofia Film Fest
Great British director PETER GREENAWAY arrives especially for Sofia Film Fest
Srdjan Dragojevic chairs the international jury at 9th Sofia Film Fest
Star Films Again with Stella Artois®
12 New Bulgarian shorts in the JAMESON Award competition
Legendary Greek film director Theo Angelopoulos will be a special guest at the 9th Sofia Film Fest

The 9th Sofia Film Festival finished on 13th March 2005. 184 feature, documentary and short films from all over the world were presented. The award ceremony took place on 13th March at 19:00 at Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture; and will be broadcast by Channel 1 of the Bulgarian National TV on 14th March at 21:40, and on the Satelite channel at 23.30.

The International Jury consisting of:

Srdjan Dragojevic (Serbia and Montenegro) – Head of the Jury, film director
Katja Riemann (Germany) – actress
Assumpta Serna (Spain) – actress
Siegfried (France) – film director, musician
Vessela Kazakova (Bulgaria) – actress


THE STELLA ARTOIS GRAND PRIX FOR BEST FILM in the international competition to: ADAM & PAUL, directed by Lenny Abrahamson.
The award includes a diploma and EUR 5000 provided by Stella Artois. The award is bestowed by the Head of the International Jury, Srdjan Dragojevic

The International Jury also presents the JURY’S SPECIAL AWARD to FROM THE LAND OF SILENCE directed by Saman Salur, this award also goes to RED COLORED GREY TRUCK directed by Srdjan Koljevic.
The award is bestowed by the International Jury

The award consists of a diploma, a statuette and EUR 6 000 provided by JAMESON Irish Whiskey and the European Co-ordination of Film Festivals. The award is handed by from Irish Distillers and and Siegfried and Katja Riemann from the International Jury.

THE BEST BULGARIAN FILM KODAK AWARD goes to STOLEN EYES, represented by director Radoslav Spasov and cinematographer Plamen Somov.

The film has been selected by the festival directors, international press and film distributors present at the festival.

The award (a diploma, a statuette and USD 3 000 worth film stock provided by Kodak) is handed by Peter Boyce, the Kodak Emerging Markets General Manager, and Evgenii Mihailov, the Boyana Film EAD Managing Director.

THE BEST BALKAN FILM AWARD NO MAN’S LAND is presented by the Bulgarian Film Critics’ Guild to LIFE IS MIRACLE , and director Emir Kusturica . The award – a diploma and a box of No Man’s Land.

THE AUDIENCE AWARD for most popular film at the festival goes to SEA INSIDE, directed by Alejandro Amenabar.
The award (a diploma and 1 000 LEVA provided by) is handed by Metodi Petrikov. This award is given by the Municipality of Sofia City.

The FIPRESCI Jury (The International Film Critics’ Federation) with the following members:

Hans –Joachim Schlegel - (Germany)
Cristina Corciovescu – Nine o’clock (Romania}
Genoveva Dimitrova - Kultura (Bulgaria)


THE FIPRESCI AWARD to Lenny Abrahamson director for ADAM & PAUL . The award is handed by the Head of the Jury, Mr. Hans –Joachim Schlegel .

THE BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER OF A BULGARIAN FEATURE FILM AWARD from the Association of the Bulgarian Cinematographers, selected by the festival directors and international press, goes to Emil Hristov for THE MEANING OF LIFE.
The award is handed by the Association Chairman, Georgi Nickolov.

THE BITTER CUP AWARD OF THE JOURNALISM AND MASS COMMUNICATION FACULTY at the St. Kliment Okhridsky Sofia University goes to Nikolay Nikitin for the project LOST AND FOUND,
and for the documentary - to Filip Remunda and Vit Klusak for the film “Czech dream”.

13 Mar 2005

You are again in Bulgaria for the Sofia Film Festival, but now you are a member of the International jury – do accept this as a challenge?

K.R.: It’s a great honor, I’m excited and I’m happy to be here. And I’m expecting with impatience films because I’ve already read in the catalogue and I think that there are some very good movies.

Compared with last year selection where is the difference?

K.R.: Last year I was here for a very short time only to present a movie. I also talked with Stefan Kitanov for some future projects and I don’t have too much time to watch movies and to read catalogue. But the things that I’ve read now seemed to me promising. And now I have a plan, all the things well – arranged, they picked me up and than I go to the movie, there is no need to look where I must buy the tickets. So, I’m feeling very well to be member of an International jury and this is really great honor to me.

Is it your first time to be a member of jury?

K.R.: Yes, this is the first time that I accepted, they’ve asked me a few times but I refused. I’m telling them: “I’m not the right person to make a decision what is good and what is bad. And that still worries me because at the end of the week we must take the decision and that is hard. I’m so full of respect to filmmakers that are doing movies, shoot and finish it. I’m an working actress and know what is the meaning of this process. But for the final decision I’m not alone – we are 5 members and we go and take the decision together.

What happens with the project “Dead man’s warden” that you gonna shoot with Bulgarian director Ilian Simeonov?

K.R.: At the end it looks like that we are going to shoot this year.

What about your new cinema projects in Germany – do you have any?

K.R.: I ‘m gonna make a movie with Margarethe von Trotta – director of “Rosenstrasse”. And we want to make this movie last year but we don’t have financing, but now we got the money and can start shooting. In the movie I’m playing a really, really challenging part – I’m playing a multiple personality split up in different characters. You know, in the middle of the 90ies there a disease called schizophrenia. These people that are schizophrenic or at least some of them heard voices. And I’m playing multiple personality which is difficult task Right now I’m working on the script, it’s very interesting. If you asked me what is genre of the film I will tell you simple definition – this is Margarethe von Trotta’s movie!

I know that you are gonna sing with the Festival Band – is that right?

K.R.: Yes, I will sing with the Festival Band and have rehearsals. This a fun for me and I know that Stefan Kitanov has organized a garage and go should sing covers and play some sessions and make improvisations.

11 Mar 2005

Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar’s The Sea Inside is the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner. The brilliant narrative based on the real life story of Ramon Sampedro paralysed from his neck down won over the remaining four competitors in this category – South African Yesterday by Darell Wood, German The Fall by Oliver Hirschbiegel, French suggestion The Choir by Christophe Barratier, and Swedish The Way It Is in Heaven by Kai Pollack. The story where main character (played by Javier Bardem) struggles for his right to die in dignity after being bed-ridden for 26 years is shot with extraordinary delicacy. At the same time, it poses once again the philosophical themes and questions Amenabar prefers in his work: about human emotions and searches in life; about the meaning of human existence; about things at the border between life and death, at the moment when one completely and clearly realises life is not worth living. A picture of extreme emotional impact, The Sea Inside got the prestigious Oscar statuette as a well-deserved award. At the 77th Oscar ceremony, director Alejandro Amenabar thanked the person who had inspired him to make this story into a film: “The Sea Inside was created based on the life of a man who, despite of his desirå to put an end to his earthly path, spread so much life around himself. This is why one third of the award belongs to him only… The other third of the award belongs to Javier Bardem for his extraordinary transformation on the screen and for his generosity. And the last third of the Oscar, of course, is for my friend and producer of the film – Fernando Bovaira as welll as for the wonderful cast, for having dedicated themselves so completely to the story from the very beginning of the shoot. And, as far as I am concerned, I am happy to keep a piece of this award till the end of my life.” The Sea Inside received 14 Spanish Goya film awards, a Foreign Language Golden Globe Award as well as a Silver Lion and the Best Actor Award for Javier Bardem from the 61st International Film Festival in Venice.

Sideways received an Oscar for Best Adapted Script. The story of two friends who set out on a journey around California but get unexpectedly entangled in amorous exploits was nominated in 5 categories – best director, best film, best supporting female actress and best adapted script. The statuette went to screenplay duet Alexander Payne–Jim Taylor who have been writing together for 15 years now. When they received the statuette, the two writers thanked Rex Picket, the author of the novel based on which the film was made; and didn’t miss to stress on their gratitude to the producers for the creative freedom they were given. Both writers have been nominated for Oscar ¬before for the screenplay they wrote together – Choice – in 1999.

Al Otro Lado Del Rio (On the Other Side of the River) won an Oscar for best film song. It is from buzz picture The Motorcycle Diaries. Directed by Walter Sales, the film recreates simply human moments in Che Guevara’s life from the time when he awakens for a political career. The music and lyrics were written by George Drexler and, at the ceremony, the song was performed by Carlos Santana. Track is the first Spanish language Oscar nominee.

27 Feb 2005

He is the first cinematographer to receive the Sofia Municipality Award for his outstanding contribution to world cinema!

“My favourite way to watch movies is in the largest possible theatre, on the largest possible screen, and with the most powerful possible Dolby system – and to be on my own. With no one else around.”
Greenaway defines his films as very English – with their interest in the world, their irony and their specific emotional distance.
He has always been interested in maps and map-making.

Peter Greenaway doesn’t like paths beaten. New means of expression and unusual characters are in British director’s focus. Greenaway was born in Newport in 1942. He studied art and started in the industry as an editor (in 1965); and only a year later he was already shooting his own films. The Draughtsman Contract (1982) wins him the critics’ acclaims and brings him world fame as one of the most original and influential cinematographers of our times. While shooting, British director never stops painting. He does numerous one-man shows and works for various projects as a curator. Philosophy and ethnography have strong influence on him. His films cross unseen territories rejecting any known structures. His great breakthrough on the other side of the Atlantic was The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) – a sarcastic narrative about life in modern day England. His next picture, Prospero’s Books (1990), a courageous interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, widely opens doors to experiment by bringing unique technological approaches. For several years Peter Greenaway works for TV only; and in 1993 he returns to film with The Baby of Macon – a fierce satire of 17th century morals. In 1996 The Pillow Book appears – with all his creative film tricks. (Picture is included in the 9th Sofia Film Fest programme.) Three years later Peter Greenaway is into black comedy and shoots 8 ½ Women – about the cause and effects of men’s sexual fantasies.

In 2003 Greenaway starts working on his most ambitious project – The Tulse Luper Suitcases – and uses the opportunities given by latest digital technologies. ‘We have to cross the limits of film theatres. And this can be achieved by modern technologies. I am having fun with my films and with the fact that I can make the audiences a part of them. Cinema is just a small part of a great phenomenon. We’ve already crossed the barriers of culture. The quality of DVD image and its longevity open new perspectives. I think they were designed especially for me’, says Peter Greenaway.

His project includes film, TV, DVD, Internet, books. The film sequence is a co-production of seven European countries – Great Britain, Spain, Luxemburg, Hungary, Italy, Germany, and Russia. The plot stretches over six decades – a period Greenaway calls The Uranium Years – from the discovering of uranium in Colorado in 1928 to the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

The stories fit into 92 suitcases (as many as the uranium number in the chemical elements table); 21 of them take place in the first part of the project, The Moab Story. The main character is Tulse Luper who has appeared in bits in Greenaway’s short films as well as in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, And Her Lover. Luper is a young visionary, a writer and a “professional prisoner”. His journey takes him to Moab, a desert in Utah, where he and his friends search for the abandoned Mormon towns – an adventure that takes him to prison where he spends his time in designing film, literature, theatre and painting projects. Finding himself back in Europe at the outbreak of WWII, Luper is arrested by Belgian fascists and locked up into a hotel in Antwerpen. “Greenaway uses the character’s journey as a rocket base that shoots us up into the orbit of a hypnotic barrage of images, texts, and new, unsuspected dimensions if visual sophistry.” – Eric Moore
Within the frames of the Directors in Focus programme at the 9th Sofia Film Fest, the next two episodes will be presented: Vaux to the Sea and From Sark to the Finish. Tulse Luper’s adventures continue in the years of WWII and after that. The action starts on the paradise island of Sark where Luper is enjoying the bail he has this time imposed on himself. His imprisonment, however, is interrupted by three jealous sisters who betray him to the Germans. Our next encounter with Luper is in Barcelona where he is followed at the heels by one of his warders; and the next one is in Torino. In Venice Luper drowns his persevering chaser – warder Zeloty; and when the Americans enter Italy, he finds himself in Rome… His reputation of a writer and collector grows and the 92 suitcases connected with his life are displayed at a large exhibition.
Greenaway continues to build his ambitious multimedia project Tulse Luper which will comprise 16 episodes.
Greenaway’s early work is known to the Bulgarian audience from the special retrospective organised by the British Council and the National Palace of Culture at the Lumiere cinema and the House of Cinema in the 90-ies. Tulse Luper’s first episode was screened with great success at last year’s Sofia Film Fest. With the support of the British Council and New Films, the trilogy will be shown twice within the frames of this year’s Sofia Film Fest. On Peter Greenaway’s personal request the films will be screened from a HD (high definition) recorder – the way they were shot. This will be the second public screening done with this latest technology in Bulgaria after Bergman’s Sarabanda in October 2004.

26 Feb 2005

Srdjan Dragojevic (Serbia), Assumpta Serna (Spain), Katja Riemann (Germany), Siegfried (France), and Vessela Kazakova (Bulgaria) are the international jury members at the 9th Sofia Film Fest. They will nominate the winner in the Stella Artois Grand Prix competition. 13 pictures (debut and second ones) will be competing for the prestigious award. The winner will receive EUR 5000, a diploma and the Stella Artois® Grand Prix statuette at the festival closing ceremony in Hall 1 at the National Palace of Culture on 13th March.

Srdjan Dragojevic (Serbia) – chairman of the international jury
Serbian director and poet, born in Belgrade, in 1963. He graduated psychology (1987) and film and TV directing (1992). In 1991 he shot his first TV short film based on Charles Bukowski’s work. His film debut, We’re No Angels, is Yugoslavia’s box office hit for 1992, acknowledged by critics and audience alike as the young generation’s cult movie. We’re No Angels brought Srdjan Dragojevic the FIPRESCI Best Yugoslavian Film Award as well as the Grand Prix at the festival in Umbria, Italy. Director has recently shot its sequel, We’re No Angels 2.
His next project, Pretty Village, Pretty Flame is the first film dedicated to the war in Bosnia. It is also the first full-length feature in the history of cinema shot in a real war situation. With this film director has participated in over 30 international festivals winning prestigious awards among which the Grand Prix in Sao Paolo (1996); Bronze Horse for best film in Stockholm (1996); the Audience Award in Thessaloniki (1996); the Grand Jury Award in D’Ange (1997); the Grand Prix in Minneapolis (1997); Best Film Award in Moscow (1997). Pretty Village, Pretty Flame is also the 1996 Yugoslavian Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film.
In 1998 Wounds is released; a picture that confirms Dragojevic’s position of an objective observer of the events in Serbia and a sharp critic of Milosevic’s regime.
Srdjan Dragojevic is the author of three poetry books and is the winner of former Yugoslavia’s greatest awards in this sphere.
His works We’re No Angels (1992), Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (1996), Wounds (1998), as well as his latest We’re No Angles 2 (2005) will be presented within the frames of Directors In the Spotlight programme of 9th Sofia Film Fest.

Katja Riemann (Germany)
Katja Riemann acknowledged as “German cinema’s most distinguished actress” is also the critics’ favourite – she has been honoured with all possible awards on German territory. Her part in Margarethe von Trotta’s Rosenstrasse (presented at the 8th International Sofia Film Fest) brought her the Best Actress Award at the Venice film biennale. Her career includes over 50 parts in film and TV. Her parts in Making-up (1993), Talk of the Town, Kiss Me!, Over My Dead Body (1995), The Pharmacist (1997), and Bandits (1997) bring her the highest awards at film festivals in Germany. Actress has also shot in Italy (Nobel, 2001) and Canada (The Irishman, 2003).
Bandits is the film that connects her strongly to music. Right upon its release, the Bandits soundtrack tops all lists. In November 2000 Katja Riemann’s debut album Night Screen is released followed by her album Favourites in 2003. Favoutrites was recorded by actress-singer herself and Katja Riemann Octet.
Katja Riemann also writes children books. The Name of the Sun (1999) and The Choir of the Angels are the first two parts of a trilogy the first part of which will be published in 2005.
Her latest film, Agnes and His Brothers, will be presented at the 9th International Film Fest.

Siegfried (France)
Siegfried is a representative of the radical, new European cinema that does not comply with cinematographic traditions or commercial laws. At the Sofia Film Fest last year’s edition the Bulgarian audience had an opportunity to get to know French artist’s varied pursuits.
Born in 1973, a trained musician, his compositions are inspired by most varied music traditions. He has made several shorts. His first feature, Louise Take 2 (1998) has been shown all over the world. Sansa is his second feature and was selected for the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes 2004. Adventurous and utterly modern, Sansa follows the journeys of the hero of the same name who is always thirsty for wine, women, songs and movement. While in Louise Take 2 (1998) (winner of the Special Jury Award for Best European Film in Brussels (1999) as well as the Best French Script Award in Doville (1998) director shows the ramblings, fantasies and experiences of a young woman all over Paris, in Sansa we see “a second chapter” of a kind where her male version has taken the winding paths. Apart from participating in the International Stella Artois Competition, Siegfried also performed together with his band in music clubs in Sofia and Russe.

Assumpta Serna (Spain)
Assupmta Serna’s career includes over 65 films, 5 theatre productions and 27 TV parts as well as over 20 Best Actress Awards from festivals all over the world. Her first part is in Carlos Saura’s Sweet Hours (1982). Her talent gains international recognition with the part of Maria, the beautiful lawyer in Pedro Almodovar’s renowned Matador (1986). Well-known to the Bulgarian audience, this film is full of love, death, and violence all intertwined in an extravagant and absurd story. Not only does Matador bring her world fame; it also brings her numerous nominations and awards. Spanish actress chooses parts in various genres. At the 1990 International Film Festival in Venice, she received the Best Actress Award for her part in historical drama directed by Maria Luisa Bemberg, I, the Worst of All. The same year sees her in the erotic thriller Wild Orchid.

Serna also takes part in the Spanish Oscar nomination for foreign film in 1992 The Fencing Master (El maestro de esgrima) by Pedro Olea. She also performs as Catherine of Aragon in the Henry VIII. Assumpta Serna is the author of a book entitled The Work of the Film Actor, published in 1999 where, based on her 20 years of experience, she debunks some of the myths connected with this walk of life. And, together with her Scottish colleague and partner Scott Cleverdon, she creates the international film school First Team where seminars, conferences and workshops for actors, directors and students are organized.

Vessela Kazakova (Bulgaria)
Although in the very beginnings of her career, the Bulgarian representative in the international jury already has a remarkable acting resume. She graduated acting in Stefan Danailov’s class at the National Film and Theatre Academy in Sofia, and her diploma work is in The Blue Bird directed by Marius Kurkinski.
Vessela Kazakova was born in Sofia. Ever since she was 4 years old (together with her twin-sister, Bilyana Kazakova) she has played in the Bell theatre studio set up by their mother, actress Snezhina Kazakova.
Her film debut is in the part of bizarre mute village girl Vessa in A Leaf in the Wind (2002, dir. Svetoslav Ovcharov). This part brings Vessela Kazakova the Nevena Kokanova Award for young actresss at the Golden Rose Film Festival in 2002. Her sister Bilyana received the same award for her part in Warming-up Yesterday’s Lunch (2002, dir. Kostadin Bonev).
In 2004 Vessela Kazakova plays the leading roles in two ladies’ debuts: Inna in Crazy Day (dir. Sylvia Pesheva) and Mila in Mila From Mars (dir. Zornitza-Sophia). Debut picture Mila From Mars, screened for the first time at the 8th International Sofia Film Fest brought director and leading actress a huge success and numerous awards at international festivals. Last year, again at the Golden Rose Bulgarian Film Festival, Vessela received the Best Actress Award – for Mila From Mars. Her latest part is in Stolen Eyes (dir. Radoslav Spassov) that will be screened at the 9th Sofia Film Fest.

25 Feb 2005

Star Films Again with Stella Artois®

13 Films from all over the world will be competing for the Stella Artois® Grand Prix at the 9th Sofia International Film Fest

For a third year in a row Stella Artois® is in partnership with Bulgaria’s biggest film festival – Sofia International Film Fest. Stella Artois® traditionally supports high quality cinema all over the world. That is why this year, too, Stella Artois® will be an addicted audience in the unforgettable festival days and will always take part in parties and revelries both at Sofia Film Fest and at other film festivals all over the world.

13 films (debuts and second ones) will be competing for the prestigious award. An international jury will choose the worthiest among competitors; and the winner will get EUR 5000, a diploma and a Stella Artois® Grand Prix statuette.

The Stella Artois® motto this year is “Perfection has its price” – a price inherent in unforgettable film art rich in emotions and experience combined with good beer and good mood.
In Bulgaria Stella Artois® is produced by Kamenitza ÀD, a company associated to InBev. In 2004 InBev grew into the world’s largest brewery with a 14 % share of the world market. It either tops or comes second best in over 20 key markets.

Films form all over the world will be competing for the Stella Artois Grand Prix.
The Woodsman (2004), USA, was inspired by the theatre production of the same title based on Stephen Fletcher’s novel. This is young director Nicole Kassells’s full-length debut that won her the jury award at the film festival in Duville and the Best Young Director Award of the Film Critics Association in Boston. The film was nominated for the Jury Grand Prix at Sundance and is in the official selection for Cannes. The main part in The Woodsman is played by Kevin Bacon known to the Bulgarian audience from Flatliners, The River Wild, Apollo 13. His hero, a prisoner set free after 12 years served for paedophilia, returns to life and, finding understanding in Vicky only (Kyra Sedgwick, Kevin Bacon’s wife), he is to overcome the demons from the past. Nicole Kassell has graduated the New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her short film Jaime (1999) won the Directors Guild of America’s Best Female Student Filmmaker Award, and The Green Hour (2002) was in the official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.

Inspired by Austrian parables and fairy-tales, director Jessica Hausner makes an attempt at finding a new approach to a standardized genre with Hotel (2004), Austria. Her second feature, Hotel, was entered in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes and brought her a Max Ophüls Award nomination, and the DOP Martin Gschlacht – a Bronze Camera – at the Manachi Brothers '04 cinematography festival. The action in the film takes place in a mysterious hotel in the Alps. After the receptionist disappears in a most mysterious way, her place is taken by young and innocent Irene. Police investigation considers the disappearance to be extremely suspicious. Irene is seized by the paranoid feeling that someone is watching her while she swims on her own in the hotel swimming-pool. Jessica Hausner (32) has graduated psychology and film directing (the Vienna Film Academy). She becomes popular with her short film Flora (1996) that won several awards including one at the Locarno International Film Festival. Her diploma work Inter-view received the Special Jury Award at Cannes in 1999. Two years later, she made her feature debut with Lovely Rita also presented in the Un Certain Regard section in Cannes, the festival in Karlovy Vary and the Vienale ’01 where it won an award.

Lenny Abrahamson participates in the international competition with his debut film Adam and Paul (2004), Ireland. The film won a best debut award at Gaulway '04 and an Irish Film Award '04 for best director. A stylised, downbeat comedy, the film follows two friends through a single day, which, as it happens so often, is entirely devoted to scrounging and robbing money for drugs. Adam and Paul have indeed run out of luck, opportunities and friends. Adam and Paul is a fairy-tale about two confused, vulnerable children in the grip of forces too powerful for them to handle. It is not a hopeless film but a tender, unsentimental and incredibly funny story about the persistence of human spirit even with most ordinary people.

Slovenian director Vinko Moederndorfer competes with his Suburbs (2004), Slovenia, based on his novel of the same title. His directing debut was selected for the Montreal Film Festival 2004. The plot of Suburbs pivots around a group of middle-aged friends who spend their evenings in the local bowling club while musing about their unrealised, scattered away lives. Seemingly funny and well-meaning in the beginning, these skittles lovers become dangerous when a couple of foreigners settle down in their neighbourhood. Everything starts up with a voyeur joke – they secretly shoot the young couple’s love play – but soon this grows into something far more malicious. Vinko Moederndorfer (46) has graduated film directing at the Lyublyana Theatre, Radio, Film and TV Academy. He directs theatre and opera productions, radio plays, and TV dramas. He also makes documentaries he writes himself and has published 25 books.

Tartarughe sul dorso (2004), Italy is a full-length debut for Stefano Pasetto.
This is a story about first love leaving a deep imprint in our lives. He and She are in their thirties and live in Trieste. In the prison’s visitors’ room He and She play several games of Scrabble where they catch up on a series of missed encounters that had punctuated their common past. The words that come up on the board are the titles of the separate chapters telling their story. All through their lives their paths had crossed and missed each other. What connects them is a tortoise symbolising their teenage love. They meet again in the operating theatre: He is the patient, and She is the surgeon. Stefano Pasetto (34) works as a director, script writer and editor. He graduated the Scuola Nazionale di Cinema in Rome. He is a member of the art group Stalk Agency. His short film Sorelle won the Kodak Grand Prix at the Young Cinematographers’ Festival in Torino.

Svetozar Ristovski also presents his first full-length feature film – Mirage (2004), Macedonia/Austria. The film is also in the official selection of the Tokyo 2004. The film starts with a quotation by Nietzsche: “Hope is the worst of all evils as it extends human suffering”, that sets the tone of this black tale about life beyond hope. Amidst Macedonia’s tumultuous transition, young Marko’s world falls apart; alcohol and gambling poison his life at home; and ruthless bullies at school make his life out of home equally unbearable. The boy dreams of salvation and it is exactly then that his teacher encourages him to enter a poetry competition where the award for best poem dedicated to Macedonia is a trip to Paris. Circumstances, however, only get worse, and Marko is no longer able to find refuge in the world of his dreams. When he befriends a soldier of fortune, he learns new lessons including how to shoot a gun. Having learnt that one must “eat or be eaten”, Marko seeks justice for the betrayals he has suffered taking matters into his own hands. Macedonian director Svetozar Ristovski (32) graduated architecture and theatre arts at the St. Cyril and Methodius Univerity in Skopje. His filmography includes a short documentary Second Class Passengers (1999); a full-length documentary Joy of Life (2001); and a short fiction film Hunter (2000).

Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska presents her modern and deeply emotional look on a young woman’s life whose unwanted pregnancy turns into a priceless gift. Stranger (2004), Poland. The film was written by herself and produced by Karl Baumgartner and Reimond Goebel. An audience’s favourite from Cannes, in 2000 Szumowska was nominated for a European Film Award. The Variety critics placed her feature debut Happy Man among the top ten pictures by young European directors in 2001. ‘It takes courage to love life’, says 22-year old Eva – the heroine in Stranger. Her job is unrewarding and low-paying; her mother refuses to see whatever is not her cup of tea; her father has lost his mind; her boyfriend abandons her; and there is a baby growing in her womb. Regardless of all that, Eva loves life. This film story brings Malgorzata Szumowska a nomination for the Grand Prix of the jury at the Sundance festival 2004. In spite of being far gone in pregnancy, Malgorzata will arrive to Sofia especially to present her work at the 9th Sofia International Film Fest.

Burning Out (2004) by Stanimir Triffonov is the Bulgarian representative in the international competition. The film has already gathered the Golden Rose '04 awards – the Best Male Actor Golden Rose Award and the cinematography award; Love Is Folly '04 – the Best Actress Award for Paraskeva Djukelova; Golden Chest '04 – Best Actress Award for Paraskeva Djukelova, Best Cinematographer award as well as the Plovdiv Municipality Award. The screenplay was written by Jordan De Meo and the picture was shot by Emil Hristov. The story takes place in the end of WWII. Young romantic Italian Enrico marries a Bulgarian woman, Kalina; very soon, however, their idyll is interrupted by State Security and Major Metodi Stoev who has fallen in love with Kalina. The Italian is sent to a labour camp and Kalina becomes Stoev’s informer and gives birth to his son. Despite the drama Kalina and Enrico go through, they still love each other and seek for each other. He manages to escape the sinister labour camp; and she finds enough power in herself to oppose the violence, get extradited by the authorities and leave for Italy. The couple travel to each other, both seized by their torturous memories so as to meet again in the country where they once met.

The next competitor comes form a distant land. Saman Salur presents his feature debut From the Land of Silence (2004), Iran – a fairy-tale about two children struggling with hard, ruthless life in the desert. Their home is at a desert outpost; their father is a truck driver on the salt flats and is nearly always on the road. The two boys deftly rip off passing drivers by selling opium and stolen fuel to them. Their unexpected meeting with a man running away from life opens new horizons before them. Sama Salur (28) has graduated the Sureh college of cinema. He has worked as an assistant-director with three films, and has shot numerous shorts and documentaries for TV.

Monsterthursday (2004), Norway, is å Arild Ostin Ommundsen’s second feature film. It participated in the International Feature Film Competition at Sundance 2005. The romantic drama with comic elements enrols by surfing bay in Stavanger. Even and Tord are old friends. Even has loved Karen all his life but she expects Tord’s baby and marries him. Tord is everything Even is not. He is handsome; surfs as a god and has a successful career. Soon after the wedding, Tord leaves for Singapore on a business trip where he takes his favourite surfboard with him. Arild Ommundsen (35) has graduated film directing in Stavanger. He has made several short films before his debut with Mongoland in 2001.

Hernan Gonzales Iglesias’s Prince Gomez (2004) joins a strong Argentine presence at 9th Sofia International Film Fest.
Gomez is a typical clerk who lives a humdrum life. The Prince is a successful football player. The Prince has no idea there exists a stranger who has exactly the same face as his. To Gomez this has turned into a nightmare – his relatives call him the Prince as a joke; passers-by stop him in the street. One day Gomez finds out that the Prince has been sold to another club for 40 million dollars. This depresses him totally and he decides to shave his beard, quit everything and sink into watching gourmet TV programmes. His depression and apathy are so intense his wife cuts off the cable TV and throws him out of their home.

Achim von Borries presents his second feature Love in Thoughts (2004), Germany. The film has won the Best Actress award at the Copenhagen film festival in 2004 for Anna Maria Muehe. Young director brings an attractive dose of poeticism in the third screen version of the students’ tragedy that took place in Stiglitz in 1927. Paul and Gunther are friends and study together – Gunther is rich, he is a sportsman and considers himself a bohemian while Paul belongs to the working class compensating his humble descent with intelligence and talent. They are both in love with the idea of being in love and lead a life with no restrictions. At a weekend spent in Gunther’s villa together with his frivolous sister Hilde, the youngsters organize a drunken party that ends up in a critical mixture of emotion, jealousy, and longing. Achim von Borries (36) has graduated political science and philosophy at the Free University in Berlin; in 2000 he graduated the German Film and TV Academy. His diploma work and feature debut England! won him 15 international awards among which the ones of the German critics for best script and best camera work.

Srdjan Koljevic presents his first feature film Red Coloured Grey Truck (2004), Serbia/Germany/Slovenia. Belgrade, the summer of 1991. Yugoslavia is falling apart. A stolen truck and an accident makes Gavran who has just come out of prison meet Suzana who is on her way to Dubrovnik to have an abortion. To him she is the first woman he can talk to; to her he is the next idiot she has to conform to. The danger threatening both of them and the war make them become close. For both of them the world is so absurd they gradually begin perceiving each other as the only sober people left.
Srdjan Koljevic (38) has graduated script writing and dramaturgy at the Belgrade Theatre School where he teaches at the moment. He has written and co-written 6 feature films among which Ljubisa Samardzic’s Sky Hook and Natasha.

24 Feb 2005

OFFICIAL CLOSING – 13th March, 19:00 hours, Hall 1 at the NATIONAL PALACE OF CULTURE

The film to mark the finale of 9th International Sofia Film Fest is Serbian director Goran Paskaljevic’s A Midwinter Night’s Dream.
The film has received the Special Jury Award at the 52nd Film Festival in San Sebastian, 2004 and the SIGNIS Award as well as an honorary award from the Golden Anchor Mediterranean Cinema competition in Haifa, Israel.
In his A Midwinter Night’s Dream director turns to post-war Serbia once again, interweaving the destinies of former prisoner Lazar and two Bosnian refugees, Yasna and her sick daughter Yovana. The characters try to turn their backs on their painful past and open a new page in their lives. Lazar wants to forget prison; and Yovana – her husband...
Goran Paskaljevic is among the Serbian directors who contribute most actively to European cinema. Born in Belgrade, graduate of the Prague Film Academy, Paskaljevic wins the critics’ award in Berlin with his debut feature Beach Guard In Winter. Producer, director, and writer, he has also designed his film Servant (1975). He has directed over 30 documentaries and 13 feature films that have been presented at such prestigious world cinema forums as Cannes, Berlin, and Venice. His picture A Cask of Gunpowder written by Deyan Dukovski received the International Jury Award in Venice and the Best European Film FIPRESCI Award for 1998. In 2001 he is one of the 5 best directors of the year in VARIETY’s list – together with Neil Jordan, Steven Soderberg, Edvard Young, and Lasse Halstrom. His film How Harry Turned Into a Tree (2001) was presented at the 7th Sofia Film Fest.
The main actor in A Midwinter Night’s Dream (Lazar), Lazar Ristovski, is known to the Bulgarian audience mostly for his part of Peter Popara-Tzurniya from Kosturitza’s legendary epic Underground. He is one of the most popular Serbian actors with 20 years of successful career (46 films as actor as well as writer and producer). He takes part in films tackling the most painful topics in modern Serbian history and stigmatising war and aggression – A Cask of Gunpowder (1998) by Goran Paskaljevic, White Garments (1999) he has written, directed and produced, as well as Boomerang (2001) he has written and produced. His main part in Goodbye 20th Century wins him the Best Actor Award at the Fanta Festival in 2000.
In Goran Paskaljevic’s film, Lazar is also a producer; and his brother Yovan and wife Danitsa are among the cast.

08 Feb 2005


OFFICIAL OPENING – 4th March, 19:00 hours, Hall 1 at the NATIONAL PALACE OF CULTURE
Mike Leigh’s Vera Drake, three Oscar nominations, opens the 9th International Sofia Film Fest. Picture has been nominated in the following categories: Best Director for Mike Leigh, Best Actress for Imelda Staunton, original script for Mike Leigh.
“Vera Drake” (Great Britain/France, 2004) overcame 21 titles in the 61st edition at the Venice festival in September 2004 and received a Golden Lion for best picture as well as the Volpi Cup for Best Actress, Imelda Staunton. It has 11 nominations for the most prestigious British Film Awards, BAFTA, among which the Best Film and Best Actress Awards again. In November 2004, Mike Leigh’s picture was chosen to open the London Film Festival. Picture is also the winner of 5 British Independent Film Awards '04 – Best Film, Best Actress for Imelda Staunton, Best Actor for Phil Davis, Best Supporting Role for Eddie Marsan, and Best Director. Imelda Staunton has gathered the critics’ Best Actress awards in Chicago, Toronto, Seattle, New York, San Diego, Los Angeles as well as the National Film Critics’ Award in the USA. In December 2004 Staunton also won the Best Actress Award of the European Film Academy.
Ìike Leigh has directed over 30 films (Secrets & Lies, Naked, Life Is Sweet), part of which were also written by him. Observing the rules of commercial cinema is not his cup of tea; he rather adheres to a cinema that is realistic to the extreme, intensely critical, and deeply psychological.
”To me, the story this picture tells is of tremendous importance. Hollywood ignores the script; the most important there is who the main actor is or who the director is. And then the script is adjusted to them and the producers’ requirements. I do not submit to that.”
His latest film, Vera Drake, situated in London in 1950, is "about life and the way we live it”, says author. Vera (Imelda Staunton) is dedicated to her family, her two children, her friends and neighbours. No one suspects that it is been 20 years now that she has been helping young women who find themselves in trouble. “Just like all other Mike Leigh films, Vera Drake is full of humour and penetrating observations. The varied rhythm of everyday speech is a result of the perfect actors’ interpretations. Staunton is irresistible as Vera. Her changing from a cheerful stoic into a broken woman is deeply moving.” Sandra Hebron

Main actress Imelda Staunton plays in some of the best English films: Sense and Sensibility and Shakespeare In Love, as well as in Kenneth Brana’s pictures based on Shakespeare’s plays A Mid-summer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night.

07 Feb 2005

The 12 New Bulgarian shorts to be competing for the prestigious JAMESON Award are already known.

It is for the third time within the frames of the International Sofia Film Fest that the JAMESON Best Short Film Award is to be adjudged.

The Selection Committee chaired by Alexander Yanakiev, film critic; and its members, Svetla Tzotzorkova, film director, and JAMESON Award winner at the 8th International Sofia Film Fest, Kostadin Bonev, film director, Preslava Preslavova, journalist, and Stefan Komandarev, film director, has chosen the following 12 short films to participate in the competition:

1. Loneliness Tale (2005)
Dir. Kiril Ivanov
screenplay – Olya Koicheva and Kiril Ivanov
Kiril Ivanov works as a cartoonist at the MAT ART Studio and has made the film Badtale, 2001

2. The Kiss (2003)
Dir. Toma Vasharov
screenplay – Yuri Stoikov, Toma Vasharov
DOP – Vanyo Georgiev
cast – Milena Spiridonova and Phillip Avramov
Toma Vasharov works as an editing director at Doli Media Studio. He has directed the films Gift (best artistic film award in Pleven 2004), Revolution (official selection at Zemos 98.5 Sevilla), Boreto (official selection at Golden Rhyton 2003).

3. Personal Best (2005)
Dir. Victoria Marinov
screenplay – Victoria Marinov
DOP – Krassimir Stoichkov
composer – Sylvia Philus
cast – Darko Velik, Iskra Donova, Peter Gaitandjiev, Nikolay Chilov, Michael Velkov, Èãîð Vassilev, Nikolay Dimitrov
Victoria Marinov studies Film and TV directing and camera art at the National Film and Theatre Academy in Sofia. She has directed the following films: Attention: Control, In the Corrrridor, Maria, Brussels – Sofia – Brussels, Dream

4. Before Life, After Death (2005)
Dir. Dragomir Sholev
screenplay – Dragomir Sholev
DOP – Krum Rodriguez
His film I Have to Tell You Something, selected for the LAMESON Award in 2003, was presented at the Cannes Festival in 2004 and received the Jury Award at the Golden Chest Festival in 2003. Family won an award at the Golden Rose Festival in 2003 as well as a Kodak Award from Lodz; his Habanera won him a Golden Rhyton (the debut award), and Go East won the best student’s animation film award in Wiesbaden.

5. Rust (2004)
dir. Ventsislav Vasilev
DOP – Yordan Borisov
composer – Bozhidar Petkov
cast – Elena Atanasova, Plamen Dimitrov, Nikolay Varbanov
Ventsislav Vasilev has written and directed the feature shorts Bobby, The Last Glass, On Re-reading Chekhov, Bear, the documentaries Vutzata, Silistra, Todoroff Winery as well as the TV programme The Magic of Fishing. He has worked as and AD with Georgi Dyulgerov and Svetoslav Ovcharov.

6. Autos (2004)
dir. Gena Traykova
DOP – Valentin Nikolov
Gena Traykova is a journalist with bTV. She has specialized at the BBC in Birmingham, CNN International, Atlanta. She is the author of 5 more documentaries.

7. Kiss the bride – (2004)
dir. Gospodin Nedelchev – Diddo
Gospodin Nedelchev – Diddo has worked in the sphere of animation film and television as a director, an artist, and a producer. He teaches Animation Directing at the National Film and Theatre Academy, Sofia.
Animation films – The Basket, Metamorphoses, Am-am Show, Love Sorry Game Over.

8. The Yellow Prince (2004)
dir. Boryana Gidikova
screenplay – Boryana Gidikova and Nikolay Boikov
DOP – Zornitsa Mihailova
Boryana Gidikova is a journalist with NOVA TV. She is the author of the film Bulgaria Presents, London Applauds.

9. Aquatoria (2004)
dir. Andrey Tzvetkov
screenpaly – Slav Bakalov
DOP – Bilyana Ivanova
The film participated in the Inetrfilm – Berlin ’04 Programme as well as at Cinanima – Espigno ‘04.
Andrey Tzvetkov works as a director, an artist, an animation artist and a producer. His filmography comprises over 15 films; he is the winner of the follwoing awards: I Castelli Animati 2003 – Genzano di Roma – special award for “sensitivity and interesting graphic work”, Golden Rhyton 2003, Zolotoy Vityaz 2004 for animation, BALKANIMA 2004 – Belgrade – best debut award.

10. Captured (2005)
dir. Peter Vulchanov
DOP – Nenad Boroevich
Peter Vulchanov is a student at the National Film and Theatre Academy, Sofia, in prof. Lyudmil Staikov’s class. His films Shock and The Doctor were selected for the students’ department in Karlovy Vary 2001 and Golden Rose 2002. Resurrection – Grand Prix at the students’ film festival in Velingrad ’03; they were also selected for the festivals in Ismailya, Egypt; in Drezden and for the JAMESON Award – Sofia Film Fest ‘04.

11. In the Dark (2005)
dir. Vlado Kovachev
screenplay – Vlado Kovachev
DOP – Nenad Boroevich
cast – Angel Genov, Alexander Doynov, Kitodar Todorov, Mila Klarova
Vlado Kovachev has graduated film directing at the National Film and Theatre Academy. He shoots music videos, and writes music for theatre productions. This film is his fifth short after Vermin, Svetleto, Waiter and DOOR.

12. Get the Rabbit Back
dir. Mitovski&Kalev
screenplay – Dimitar Mitovski, Rossen Tsankov and Kamen Kalev
DOP – Dimitar Gochev, RossenTsankov
Featuring Deo
Dimitar Mitovski is a director, producer and artist, associate at SIA Advertising. Some of his film and TV productions are Clinic on the Third Floor, the TV programmes Circles, 200 Kings of the Cinema, Crash, Get Rich, music videos of FSB, Stanley, Avenue, Orlin Goranov, and commercials.
Kamen Kalev has graduated the National Film Art Academy in Paris and works as a director of commercials with SIA Advertising.

The Committee chose the finalists for the JAMESON Award within the frames of the 9th International Sofia Film Fest after seeing and discussing all the films presented in the competition. The authors of 89 Bulgarian short films (about 20 more than in 2004!) – 38 features, 19 animation films, 19 documentaries and 13 experimental ones – applied for participation.

The selected films will be screened at the Sofia Film Fest 2005. The International Jury will determine the JAMESON Short Film Award winner. The awarded film will be presented at the special programmes at all festivals where the JAMESON Short Film Award is given.

The JAMESON Short Film Award winner receives a silver statuette and prize amounting to EUR 6 000. The statuette is created by Kevin O’Dire, a world-famous Irish sculptor. It is a silver sculpture on pedestal made from Kilkenny limestone.

The JAMESON Award will be presented to its winner on 13th March in Hall 1 at the National Palace of Culture at the 9th International Sofia Film Fest award giving ceremony.

02 Feb 2005

“Angelopoulos is one of the few directors from the first hundred years of cinema who force us to define our feeling about what cinema is and what it should be.” Andrew Horton

Theo (Theodoros) Angelopoulos was born in Athens on 17th April 1935. He graduated law at the University of Athens, and later he moved on to a different territory – he studied film directing at the prestigious film institute IDEC, Paris. As a student he worked with the creator of cinema verite Jean Rouche. After he returned to Greece, he worked as a journalist and critic for a few years with Greek newspaper Demokratiki Alagi. His first attempts at film directing date back to 1963 when he made several short films. His first independent attempt was never shown in public – The Story of the Formincs. His first premiere in the world of film was his short Broadcast (1968) that won him the critics’ award at the Thessaloniki film festival. Having started as a member of the so-called “Paris group” which was in the basis of the 1960-ies reaction against traditional cinema, he soon took on his own path creating his own place among the great directors in the first century of cinema.

The future film classic’s early works show interest in reconstructing actual events as a reason to analyse society from a social and historical viewpoint. In his Reconstruction (1970, 5 awards from Thessaloniki film festival) the crime story is only the starting point towards the film investigation. To Angelopoulos this picture is “first love and first challenge”.
The passion for ancient Greek mythology and for dissolving its elements into present day determined the direction in Angelopoulos’ further work.

Theo Angelopoulos gains world fame with his trilogy following the story of Greece from 1930 to 1970 – Days of 1936 (1972, the FIPRECSI Award, Berlin ‘73), The Travelling Players (1975, the FIPRECSI Award in Cannes, 6 awards in Thessaloniki, British Film Institute ‘76 – film of the year; declared “best film in the world in the 70-ies by the Italian Film Critics Association) and The Hunters (1977, Grand Prix at Chicago International Film Festival). “History and power are in the focus of his world where evil in all kinds of totalitarian ideologies is clearly expressed. This ironic wisdom, however, avoids moral admonitions at the expense of individual rationalization, and of an emotionally intense epic and lyrical picture of the history of Greece.” Ivette Bireaux
History and power are also in the focus of epic Alexander the Great (1980, Golden Lion and FIPRESCI Award in Venice).

In Voyage to Cythera (1984, screenplay award and the FIPRESCI award – Cannes ’84) Angelopoulos starts working together with famous Italian writer Tonino Guerra who has worked with such directors as Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini, Andrey Tarkovski, Vittorio de Sica. Guerra himself perceives his role as someone who does the arrangement – someone who writes down and renders the director’s memories, dreams and images in a literary form. And Angelopoulos compares his role to that of a shrink. “I tell stories, I pour my soul out, and he writes it all down.”
This stage is also connected to the creation (together with the director of photography who he shoots most of his films with, Yorgos Arvanitis) of the complex cinematographic rhythm that is a trademark of his pictures.

The philosophical drama in Landscape in the Mist (1988, Greece/Italy/France) winner of a Silver Lion from Venice as well as a Best European Film Felix, traces Theo Angelopoulos’ new direction – delicate mythological symbolism.
Turning to contemporary Europe with all its contradictions and idiosyncrasies is manifested in The Suspended Step of the Stork (1991) with Marcello Mastroiani (the Greek director stakes on Italian cinema’s star as early as The Beekeeper (1986), a film which is among the hits of the First World Cinema Panorama at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia) and The Look of Ulysses (1995) – the Jury Grand Prix and the FIPRESCI Award in Cannes – starring Harvey Keitel, with Erland Josefsson.

Angelopoulos entrusts the music of his films to Eleni Karaindrou who is among the best contemporary European composers. “Angelopoulos is a person who speaks very little and to me it is very important to comprehend the basis of his ideas for the project in order to be able to render whatever the text will not be able to say in the film in its melodies. Sometimes I have already written the basic theme at the moment when he is ready with the script.” Karaindrou herself is closely connected to history that is a basic part in these cinematographic narratives – she has a degree in history and archaeology.

Despite the tempting invitations by world-renowned producers, Angelopoulos remains faithful to Greece. “I believe that my mission of an artist is to recreate the history of the small country I was born in. Both my awards and my colleagues’ awards confirm that an international director is the one who has his roots deep in his motherland soil.”
In 1995 Theo Angelopoulos is among the honorary group of 40 directors invited to make Lumiere and Company, a film dedicated to the 100th anniversary of cinema.

At the 9th International Sofia Film Fest, Theo Angelopoulos will personally present his latest picture The Weeping Meadow. European Film Awards '04 – the FIPRESCI Award. The film is the first part of the historical Trilogy where the following two parts are The Third Wing and Returning. Director has worked on the script together with Tonino Guerra, Petros Markaris and Giorgio Silvani as in a “…poetically summarizing the past century and directing a fantastic challenge to 21st century in the form of a love story marking the passage from one millennium into another …” The action in The Weeping Meadow starts in 1919: Greek refugees travel from Odessa that has just been taken by the Red Army to their motherland and settle down in Northern Greece. That is where a love story is born between Eleni and Alexis. The action is transported to various places following the characters who try to preserve their love despite all obstacles imposed on them by political or social events. This is Angelopoulos’ first story after Reconstruction where the key character is that of a woman. Director uses a rich palette of expressive means such as breathtaking landscapes and dialogue in the style of Greek tragedy.

In its second part, The Third Wing, the action will go through former Soviet Union, Austria, Hungary, Italy and New York – between 1953 and 1974. Director is planning Harvey Keitel, Michelle Pfeifer, and Sean Penn to play in the third part, Returning.

24 Jan 2005
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