22nd International Film Festival Sofia Film Fest - accents from the programme

MARCH is the time for cinema in the UNESCO's creative city of cinema - SOFIA!

2018 started with a bang! Just a few days ago, we shared the double joy about the presence of Bulgarian films in the main program of Berlinale with "Ága" by Milko Lazarov (closing screening of the official program outside the competition) and "Touch me Not" by Adina Pintilie, with Bulgarian co-producer Martichka Bozhilova.
Time has come again for world cinema and its makers to shift their focus to the capital of Bulgaria, which in the first half of 2018 is also the capital of United Europe.

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

This year the festival's theme creatively intertwines with the festival’s vision, it  is related to Sofia's choice as the European capital of sport. This title aims to promote active lifestyles, the development of sports policies and infrastructure with good facilities, programs and activities. The emphasis is on mass sport and on the importance of sport as a priority in people's lives. This special focus will also be featured in the festival feature films program via a selection of films and sporting events.

The Sofia International Film Fest is recognized by the world cinema community accredited by the FIAPF, and included in the list of the 50 highest-ranking festivals globally according to "Variety" magazine. It will once again, for 22-nd consecutive year during the month of March, meet and present to its true fans and the numerous international guests the newest headlines from the world and Bulgarian cinema.

The official opening of the 22nd Sofia Film Festival will be on March 7th and the Award ceremony - on March 16th. The Festival’s program and the traditional Burgas, Plovdiv and Varna events will continue until March 29th. A special screening of retrospective productions in Cinema House will stir up the festival starting on March 1 2018.
The program includes around 150 full-length feature films and documentaries, and over 20 short films.

You know how to get to all the films in our program – the TICKET in a CAN is your sure pass for the World of Cinema in March! For the fifth consecutive year, it will be everywhere around you again - weeks before the start of the festival!
Tickets will be available everywhere - from mid-February we will be in all networks, weeks before the festival beginning. You will spot us in places where you shop, in gift and bookstores, bars and many other places, that you would least expect...
Do not miss the chance that each of you can become the owner of a special GOLDEN TICKET - traditionally they are five and give their lucky owner /plus a friend/ unlimited access to all screenings and parties. 5 GOLDEN TICKETS will be waiting for you in the usual selling locations!
Remember to call us if you find your GOLD TICKET in a can!

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GENERAL SPONSOR of the 22nd Sofia Film Fest is the traditional partner of the festival - JAMESON Irish Whiskey.  For fifteen years, JAMESON has been supporting the Bulgarian short film competition. The prize has provoked many young cinematographers in Bulgaria to present their films and even create new ones for the Jameson Competition. Since 2003, names like Ivan Russev, Svetla Tsotsorkova, Dragomir Sholev, Andrey Tsvetkov, Nikolay Todorov, Peter Valchanov, Boris Despov, Andrey Paunov, Nikolay Vassilev, Pavel Vesnakov, Neda Morfova and Kolyo Karamfilov, Antoniya Milcheva, Toma Vasharov, Veselin Boydev are only some of the various winners of this award. Many of them subsequently have created films, participating in prestigious international cinema forums.

In 2018 the selection committee who will choose the 12 finalists is comprised of the following members: Irma Chichikova - actress, Katya Trichkova - producer, Julian Atanasov - operator, Dimitar Drinov - film critic, Veselin Boydev - director, winner of the JAMESON prize in 2017. The JAMESON prize is € 6,000 kindly provided by Jameson Irish Whiskey and will be presented to the director of the winning film.

We present to your attention some of the highlights of SFF 2018:

22nd Sofia Film Fest opens on March 7 in Hall 1 of NDK with the official premiere of the new feature film "Ága" by Milko Lazarov. It was introduced at Sofia Meetings in 2014 as a project with a working title "Nanook", where it was awarded by the Mediterranean Film Institute, Synchro Film, Video & Audio, Vienna, also awarded as a project with the prestigious award Krzysztof Keslovski from ScriptEast, at Cannes. The film was chosen to close the main competition program at Berlinale 2017. "Ága" is a co-production between Bulgaria, Germany and France with producer Vesselka Kiriakova ("Red Carpet"), who has been working with Milko since his successful debut - "Alienation", awarded with two awards from the oldest film festival in the world in Venice.

For the 16th time an international jury will choose the winner of the Grand Prize "Sofia - City of Film" in the competition for first or second feature film, including also a monetary bonus of 7000 euros  provided by Sofia Municipality.

Among the contestants are the following films:

* "3/4" (2017), Bulgaria - Germany, director Iliyan Metev
* "Adam" (2018), Germany, Iceland, USA, Mexico, Maria Solrun
* "The Pigeon" (Güvercin, 2018), Turkey, director  Banu Sivaci
* "Namme" (2017), Georgia, director Zaza Khalvashi
* "Radiogram" (2017), Bulgaria-Poland, directed Rouzie Hassanova
* "Silent Night" (Cicha noc, 2017), Poland, directed by Piotr Domalewski

The rest of the competing films will be announced by the end of January.

The famous and recognized Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi will be a chairman of the International Jury that will decide who will be the winner of Grand Prize "Sofia – City of Film". Her latest work "On Body and Soul" conquered Berlinale and was awarded with "Golden Bear", and is also among the nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Oscars. Ildikó Enyedi will receive the FIPRESCI Platinum 90 Award. It is a  special award which both directors Bella Tarr and Goran Pascaljevic have also received in Sofia. FIPRESCI's General Secretary Klaus Eder will moderate a public conversation with Ildikó Enyedi.

One of the highlights of the festival is undoubtedly Ruben Östlund’s "The Square" (Golden Palm - Cannes17, an Oscar nomination for foreign film, six awards from the European Film Academy including for Best Film and Best Director). The film is included in the traditional "The Grant Prizes" programme.

In "Cinema Today - Masters" we will show the audience the latest films of the world's best-known filmmakers. The program features titles like: Fatih Akin's "IN THE FADE" (Golden Globe Award for Foreign Language Film, Best Actress Award to Diane Kruger, Cannes 2017), "LOVELESS" (Russia) by the Russian master Andrey Zvyagintsev (awards from Cannes, London and the European Film Academy, nominated for a foreign language Oscar), "The FLORIDA PROJECT", Shawn Baker's latest film (featured in Directors Fortnight, Cannes 2017, Oscar nomination to William Defoe for Best Supporting Actor), "REDOUBTABLE", by Michel Hazanavicius (premiered in Cannes 2017), Julian Rosefeldt's "MANIFESTO", featuring Cate Blanchett, "JUPITER's MOON", by Kornél Mundruczó (with a Golden Palm nomination, Cannes 2017), Samuel Maoz's "FOXTROT" (with Silver Lion Jury Prize and two more prizes from Venice 2017, with eight awards from the Israeli Film Academy).  

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

Traditionally in the New Bulgarian Features will present feature films completed after March 2017, and documentary premieres. You can expect a record amount of Bulgarian films, most of which premieres!

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

Main partner of Sofia Film Fest and Sofia Meetings is New Boyana Film Studios –  one of Europe's leading film studios. They provide enormous support to the Sofia Meetings co-production market, awarding for a third consecutive year the "Danny Lerner Grand Prize" for a project from the main sections of the business platform. For the first time in 2018, the prizes will be two, one of which will go to a Bulgarian project; each of them is worth € 50,000 in services at the New Boyana Film Studios and a check for € 5,000.

New Boyana together with B2Y Productions are co-producers of the festival trailers, which are also made with the creative partnership of DDB. Six young Bulgarian directors accepted the challenge of shooting the sporting festival theme via their unique look, using the methods of a world famous director. They are Dragomir Sholev, Ivan Moskov, Neda Morfova, Kevork Aslanyan, Vasil Petrakov and Petko Spasov.

Over 250 foreign guests are expected at the 22nd Sofia Film Fest. Many of them will come for the 15th 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: New Boyana Film Studio, B2Y Productions, 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 will take place at Hall #1 of NPC,  Cinema Lumiere, the House of Cinema, Cinema Odeon, Euro Cinema, Cultural Center "G8", "Slaveykov" hall, the French Cultural Institute, Cultural center of Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Vlaykova cinema, CINEMA CITY - Mall of Sofia, CINE GRAND - City center Sofia, ARENA Deluxe - Bulgaria Mall.

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 special columns have we prepared?
What kind of joint events with cultural institutes and embassies you can expect?

40 days are left until March 7th - be sure that you will learn the answers to all 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, which will be held in about a month, at Festival Press center - In The Park hall.
Also be sure to visit our web site for details: www.siff.bg

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

Do not forget that cinema is a way of life!
See you at the cinemas!