The Balkan Competition Films of the 28th Sofia International Film Festival

The Balkan Competition of the 28th Sofia International Film Festival features 12 of the most successful works created by filmmakers in the region over the past year. The international jury that will present this year's award is composed of screenwriter and director Hanna Slak (Germany-Slovenia, Chair), festival programmer Alberto La Monica (Italy) and film scholar Dr. Dina Iordanova (UK-Bulgaria),

So far the following films have been announced in the Balkan Competition:

"Life" (Turkey-Bulgaria), directed by Zeki Demirkubuz
"M" (North Macedonia-Croatia-France-Luxembourg-Kosovo), directed by Vardan Tozija
"Observing" (Slovenia-Italy-Croatia-North Macedonia), directed by Janez Burger
"Guardians of the Formula" (Serbia-Slovenia-Montenegro-North Macedonia), directed by Dragan Bjelogrlić
"Freedom" (Romania-Hungary), directed by Tudor Giurgiu
"Animal" (Greece-Austria-Romania-Cyprus-Bulgaria), directed by Sofia Exarchou

Here are the other 6 titles:

After its impressive international and national success, Stephan Komandarev's "Blaga's Lessons" is the Bulgarian entry in the Balkan Competition of the 28th Sofia International Film Festival. The work debuted on the international stage with two Crystal Globe trophies in Karlovy Vary - for "Best Film" and "Best Actress" to Eli Skorcheva. At the Golden Rose National Feature Film Festival, "Blaga's Lessons" was awarded seven prizes, including "Best Film" and "Audience Award". The film was also the Bulgarian submission for the Oscar 2024. The co-production of Bulgaria and Germany is the big comeback in cinema of the actress Eli Skorcheva, whom Stephan Komandarev chose for the lead role.  Defined by international critics as a "social thriller", the film tells the story of a retired teacher who is the victim of a phone scam and loses her savings. The once strict and honest woman is forced to forget and ignore all her principles.

Radu Jude's latest film, "Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World", was nominated for the Golden Leopard and received the Special Jury Prize at Locarno, as well as prizes at the Lisbon, Gijón, Montclair and Chicago festivals. The co-production between Romania, Luxembourg, France and Croatia is a scathing satire of the modern world that puts profit above humanity. Radical Romanian provocateur Jude takes viewers on a wild ride following the filming of a workplace safety video commissioned by an international company. But when one of the interviewees makes a statement that the company may be to blame for the accident that nearly paralyzed him, everyone witnesses a dizzying series of corporate machinations.

Christina Ioakeimidi's Greek-Bulgarian co-production "Medium", which won the Cineuropa prize at the Sarajevo '23 festival, tells the story of the encounter between teenage Eleftheria and her mysterious neighbour Angelos, who invites her into his adult world. Cruising the streets of the hot, completely unknown to Eleftheria city on a motorbike, she will feel her sexual desire awaken for the first time. "As a character study, Medium manages to leave a healthy distance between its teenage protagonist and a more nuanced understanding of the world held by adults. This young love feels authentic and indescribable, and of course, comes at a cost," Savina Petkova writes for Cineuropa.

Balancing the moral and emotional upbringing of a young boy, presented alongside the battle for Turkey's future and the heightening tensions between religious and secular Turks between 1996 and 1997, Nehir Tuna's "Dormitory" (Turkey-Germany-France) is among the most inspiring premieres presented in the Horizons Competition at Venice '23. The plot follows the travails of fourteen-year-old Ahmet, sent by his religious father to an Islamic boarding school - a yurt - to take the path of the righteous and atone for his parent's sins. Ahmet finds it difficult to fit in with the rough children at the boarding school and feels isolated in his secular day school. The only solace in this nightmare is his new friend Hakan - together they dream of growing up and making decisions on their own.

The Cypriot film "Africa Star" by writer and director Adonis Florides will have its world premiere at the 28th Sofia International Film Festival. It presents the story of three women from different generations. The narrative begins in 2008 when the granddaughter Christina searches for answers about her family's past, while the stories of the mother in 1967 and the grandmother in 1945 unfold and reveal unexpected facts.

In his new film "Working Class Goes to Hell," a co-production between Serbia and Bulgaria, Serbian director Mladen Đorđević focuses on the lives of people on the margins - a group of former workers whose loved ones died in a factory fire in a small Serbian town. Led by the intrepid Ceca (Tamara Krcunović), they form an association that demands justice from the ruling "troika" - the mayor, the factory owner and the local crime boss. Đorđević fills his film with signs of the devastated Serbian society in which politicians, criminals and the Orthodox Church loot, steal and kill, while ordinary people are "zombified" by cruel reality shows.

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