Atom Egoyan – a special guest of the 24-th edition of Sofia International Film Festival!

The distinguished Canadian film director Atom Egoyan is a favourite of festival juries around the world – his 17 features and a few dozen documentaries and short films have won over 60 awards and almost 100 nominations. Egoyan was born in Egypt, into a family of Armenian artists, and grew up in Western Canada. As a teenager he planned to become a playwright. Later he studied International relations and Music at the University of Toronto and something in him changed. After making a short film, Egoyan realized the power of visual storytelling and decided to devote himself to cinema. At that point his first short films Howard in Particular (1979), After Grad with Dad (1980), Peep Show (1981) and Open House (1982) were created. 

In 1993 Atom Egoyan returned to his “ethnical” motherland in order to shoot his film Calendar. His early films managed to attract attention from independent festivals and Exotica (1994) provoked interest among film critics and broader audience. His film The Sweet Hereafter (1997) received two Oscar nominations and in 2009 Chloe became a huge box office hit and produced substantial profits after being released on DVD and Blu-ray. Ararat (2002) is devoted to the genocide carried out against Armenians in 1915 and shows the suffering of the genocide survivor Arshile Gorky who would later become a pioneer of American Abstract Impressionism. 

During the 24-th edition of Sofia International Film Festival the viewers will have the chance to see three of Atom Egoyan’s most important and intriguing films. 

There will be a premiere screening of his most recent film Guest of Honour (2019), which was selected for the official competition at the Venice film festival. Egoyan wrote and directed a dramatic story, following one widower’s attempts at understanding his grown up daughter. The film focuses on existential problems like the issue of guilt and suspicion, seen through the prism of complicated family relationships. The father is played by the British actor David Thewlis and the daughter – by the attractive actress Laysla de Oliveira. 

The festival programme will also present some of the most successful films of Atom Egoyan’s career – Exotica (1994) and The Sweet Hereafter (1997). Exotica can be defined as a peculiar cinematic labyrinth, which interweaves the darkest secrets of a few people apparently not connected to each other. At some point, however, it becomes clear the characters are so closely linked together, that if someone tries to separate them, their world will collapse. Zoe, a strip club owner, is portrayed by Arsinée Khanjian (Egoyan’s wife). Zoe starts a complex professional and personal relationship with the new DJ Eric and lends the peculiar cinematic environment a gentle innocence and a pinch of mystery. In 1994 the film won the FIPRESCI prize at Cannes Film Festival and the award for Best Canadian film at the Toronto International Film Festival. 

The Sweet Hereafter tells the story of the well-respected lawyer Mitchell Stephens (played by Ian Holm) who travels to a small Canadian town in order to investigate a tragic bus crash and to seek justice for the victims of the accident. Egoyan’s adaptation of Russel Banks’ novel is a film, in which he looks at the essence of guilt and the complexity of human relationships in all their rich variety. Familial conflicts are explored with intelligence and sensitivity with the actions of those lacking in morality placed under the director’s metaphorical microscope, writes the BBC journalist David Wood. 

The filmmaker’s visit will be organized in partnership with the Armenian General Benevolent Union Parekordzagan – Sofia, the Armenian General Benevolent Union Parakordzagan – Varna, the Union of Armenians in Europe – Bulgaria and the Embassy of Canada to Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova. 

We are looking forward to seeing you in the cinemas!

The Sofia International Film Festival is a part of the cultural calendar of Sofia Municipality for 2020.