21st Sofia International Film Festival - first press conference

March is spring, March is cinema!

Every year starts with the thought of something new, an ambition to find new directions, new places, new dimensions ... For the team of Sofia Film Fest every year starts with the thought about the new program - all those great premieres, important and intriguing films that we have the chance to share with the audience. March is the month of the "creative city of film" Sofia, when the viewers can fully enjoy the films at SIFF. In 2017 this will happen for the 21st time!

Over the years Sofia Film Fest has earned a recognition among the world's film community, accredited by FIAPF (International Federation of Film Producers Associations) and included in the list of the 50 highest-ranking festivals globally according to Variety magazine, as an important cinema forum in Central and Eastern Europe. Sofia Film Fest will meet with its faithful audiences and numerous international guests for the 21st consecutive year. In Sofia, during the month of March SIFF will present the latest creations of world and Bulgarian cinema.

The festival is organized by Art Fest and with the help of the Sofia Municipality, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, the National Film Centre and the National Palace of Culture, also supported by European Union's Creative Europe program, national and international cultural institutes, sponsors and friends

The official opening of the 21st SIFF will be on March 9th and the award ceremony will take place on March 18th. The festival’s program and the traditional Burgas, Plovdiv and Varna events will continue until March 31st. A special screening of retrospective productions in Cinema House will be a warm up for the festival, starting on the March 1st. The program contains more than 150 full-length feature and documentary titles and more than 20 short films.

You know how to reach all the titles in our program – ticket in a tin can is your sure pass to the world of Cinema in March! For a fourth year tickets will be, again available everywhere, weeks before the festival beginning! You will spot it in grocery stores, in gift shops, bookstores, bars and many other places that you will least expect…

For a second consecutive year, LIDL Bulgaria is the GENERAL SPONSOR of SIFF. Our partnership with them is a continuation of the overall policy of the company to support Bulgarian culture and art.

For a 14th time the Jameson Short Film Award competition will be held for Bulgarian short film productions. Festival's international jury will decide upon the winner. This award has provoked and inspired many young cinematographers throughout the country, to present their work and sometimes create projects for intentional participation in the event.
Since 2003, names like Ivan Russev, Svetla Tsotsorkova, Dragomir Sholev, Andrey Tsvetkov, Nikolay Todorov, Peter Valchanov, Boris Despodov and Andrey Paunov, Nikolay Vassilev, Pavel Vesnakov, Neda Morfova, Kolyo Karamfilov, Antoniya Milcheva, and Toma Warsharov are only a few of the various winners of this award. Many of them subsequently have created films which have been participating in prestigious international cinema forums.
In 2017, the selection committee was composed of the following members: Kristina Grozeva – director, Ivan Barnev – actor, Alexander Stanishev – director of photography, Anastas Punev – film specialist, Toma Warsharov - director, winner of the JAMESON prize for 2016. They will determine the 12 finalists from more than 60 films entering the competition. The grand prize is € 6,000, kindly brought by Jameson Irish Whiskey, and will be given to the director of the winning film.

We present to you some of the highlights of SIFF 2017:

For the 15th time international jury will determine the winner for the Grand Prize in the "Sofia - city of film" competition for first or second feature film which includes cash prize of € 7,000, provided by Sofia Municipality.

Among the competing films are:

* "Godless", 2016 – Bulgaria-Denmark-France, director Ralitza Petrova
* "Light Thereafter", 2017- Bulgaria-Belgium, director Konstantin Bojanov
* "Hristo", 2016 - Bulgaria-Italy, directors Grigor Lefterov and Todor Matsanov
* "Snow", 2017 - Turkey, director Emre Erdogdu
* "Moon Dogs", 2016 - UK director John Philip
* "A Hhouse without a Roof" ( "Haus Ohne Dach", 2016) - Germany-Iraq-Qatar, director Solin Youssef
* "Requiem for Mrs. J", 2017 - Serbia, director Bojan Vuletic

Sofia Film Fest will open on 9th of March at the National Palace of Culture, Hall 1, with the official premiere of the newest feature film of the creative duo Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth – "King of the Belgians". The large-scale co-production between the Netherlands, Belgium and Bulgaria had its premiere at the "Horizons" competition program at the oldest film festival in the world - Venice. The film was shot almost entirely in our country; Bulgarian producers are Art Fest - Mira Staleva and Stefan Kitanov. The "National Film Center" Executive Agency provided financing from Bulgarian side. The project was supported by Belgium's and Netherland's film funds, Eurimages and the MEDIA Programme of the European Union. "King of the Belgians" is a parody of a documentary road movie telling the story of a willful monarch who takes adventurous journey through the Balkans on the road to his crumbling Kingdom. Starring is actor Peter Van den Begin ("The Fifth Season"). Bruno Zhoris ("The Fifth season"), Titus December Voogt ("Steve + Sky") and Lucy Debe ("Melody") perform the other roles. Nina Nikolina is playing the part of Bulgarian folk singer Anna, who wins the heart of the Belgian king. Valentin Ganev is the deputy chief of the Turkish secret services. A genuine Bulgarian folk ensemble with singers from the most famous Bulgarian choirs - "The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices", "Filip Koutev", "Nightingale" quartet, and others take part in the film.

The past 2016 has proved once again that Bulgaria's participation in international co-productions is of great importance to the development of the domestic film industry - this is a great opportunity for our country to be represented at famous film festivals. An example of such film, presented in the "Un Certain Regard" competition program at Cannes, is "Dogs" by Romanian director Bogdan Mirica - "a promising debut that cleverly mixes crime genre with elements of western, presenting conflicts in contemporary Romania". The film is a co-production between France, Romania, Bulgaria and Qatar, as producers from Bulgarian side are Stefan Komandarev and Katia Trichkova ("Argo Film") and the production is carried out with the support of the "National Film Center" Executive Agency.

One of the founders of the new wave of Romanian cinema Cristi Puiu will be president of the International jury, which will determine the winner of the "Sofia - City of Film" Grand Prize. The director will personally present his latest film "Sieranevada" to the Bulgarian audience, and also two of his works - "Aurora" and the now legendary "Death of Mister Lazarescu", which was originally launched from Sofia Meetings and attracted the attention of the world film community on Romanian cinema.

The Grand Prizes program includes films that have earned the most prominent acknowledgments from leading cinema festivals around the world.  Among the titles in the program are:
- "I, Daniel Blake" by Ken Loach ("Golden Palm" special prize of the Ecumenical Jury, "Palm Dog" - Cannes '16, Locarno '16 - Audience Award)
- "Toni Erdmann" by Maren Ade (nominated for best foreign-language "Oscar", LUX Prize of the European Parliament for 2016, with five awards at the European Film Academy, including the prize for best film)
- "The Woman Who Left" by Lav Diaz ("Golden Lion" from Venice '16)
- "It's Not The Time of My Life" by Szabolcs Hajdu ("Crystal Globe" from Karlovy Vary '16), which will be presented personally by its director, the actress Török-Illyés Orsolya, and the producer Andras Flies
- "The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki" by Juho Kuosmanen (the Priza Un Certain Regard at Cannes, FIPRESCI prize for European discovery of the European Film Academy) and many more.

Among the gala premieres at the 21st SIFF will be the latest film by Paolo Virzi "Like Crazy", and the sequel to the famous documentary epic "March of Emperors" – "The Emperor" ("L'empereur") by Luc Jacquet.

"Cinema today - the masters" program will include the latest films of established names of the world cinema, most of them awarded with prestigious international awards. Among the titles in the program are:
- "Paradise" by Andrei Konchalovsky (prize for best director - Venice festival'16)
- "Frantz" by the French artist Francois Ozon, under whose direction Paula Beer won the award for best young actress in Venice '16
- "The Other Side of Hope" - the newest film from the legendary Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki will be presented in Bulgaria immediately after its premiere in the Berlinale program '17
- "Sweet Dreams" by Marco Bellocchio
- "The Unknown Girl" by the Dardenne brothers
- "Land of the Gods" (Dev Bhoomi) by Goran Paskaljevic. The famous Serbian director will be one of the special guests at Sofia Film Fest 2017.

This is not all, of course - there will be many more details about the films and the program that we will share with you in February!

Traditionally the "New Bulgarian Cinema" program will present feature films completed after March 2016, and documentary premieres. Expect a record amount of Bulgarian films, most of which premieres! The Bulgarian program is supported by the United Bulgarian Bank.

The Balkan competition will include top titles from the region, and for the sixth consecutive year, we will present cinema gourmet program in partnership with "Domain Boyar".

Here is today's important news - Sofia Film Festival will pay tribute to the role and importance of women as artists in cinema. Several prominent women of Bulgarian and world cinema will receive the Sofia Award of Sofia Municipality. Among them is Adela Peeva, a globally recognized Bulgarian documentary maker, who celebrates her 70th anniversary and 45 years of creative work this year. Adela is a winner of numerous prestigious national and international awards and is the only director in Bulgarian cinema with two nominations from the European Film Academy award for best documentary - "Whose is this song" and "Divorce Albanian Style".

Over 250 foreign guests are expected at the 21st  Sofia Film Fest. Many of them will come for the 14th edition of Sofia Meetings, which traditionally gathers the European film industry elite together. The first, second, and third feature projects will be presented publicly in front of a professional audience, film funding organizations, producers, distributors, journalists, and various institutions' representatives.  The Bulgarian and regional productions will be screened before business representatives. Sofia Meetings partners are: Producers Network, Cannes Market, Crossroads, Mediterranean Coproduction Market, Mediterranean Film Institute, Moscow Business Square, EAVE, Hungarian Filmlab, Focusfox Studio (Hungary), Synchro Film, Video & Audio (Wienn), Yapimlab (Turkey), Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, MDM, FilmFestival Cottbus, Connecting Cottbus, Robert Bosch Foundation, New Boyana, Europa Distribution, Europa Cinemas.

Once again, the screenings this year will take place at Hall No.1 of NPC, Cinema Lumiere, the House of Cinema, Cinema Odeon, Euro Cinema, Cultural Center "G8", "Slaveykov" hall, the French Cultural Institute, CINEMA CITY - Mall of Sofia, CINE GRAND - City center Sofia, ARENA Deluxe - Bulgaria Mall, and Cultural center of Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski".
Base ticket prices  - 8.00 / 6.00 lev

Which will be the films in the international competitions?
Which will be the 12th contenders for the Jameson award?
Which filmmakers will present their films in Sofia in person?
Who will be the members of the international jury?
What extraordinary musical events have we planned?
Which country will be in focus this year?
What joint events to expect with Goethe-Institut?

36 days are left until March 9th, and you be sure that you will learn the answers to these and many other questions!

The complete festival schedule, detailed cinema programme, information about the films, our guests, partners and sponsors, will be available during the main press conference on February 23rd, starting at 11.00 at Festival Press center, Matti'D hall.

The creative and communications partner of Sofia Film Festival is DDB!

Also be sure to visit our web site for details: www.siff.bg

We are WAITNG for YOU at the cinemas!