The documentary competition of The 27th Sofia Film Festival

The two Bulgarian films in competition in 2023 are "A Provincial Hospital" directed by Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov, and Zlatina Teneva, and "My Uncle Luben" directed by Nikola Boshnakov and Georgi Stoev - Jackie. The latest film by the world-famous Ukrainian director Serhiy Loznitsa "The Kyiv Process" is also in the selection. And here are the other nine documentaries.

The competition, with main screenings in the comfortable and cozy Slaveykov Hall of the French Institute, opens with the Swiss film "Men Caves", the debut of director Celine Pernet. She is an anthropologist and the author of the screenplay of this intriguing study, presented with humor and concern, which focuses on men of active age - between 30 and 45. The results of her interviews suggest that a conversation needs to be had about patterns of masculinity - an important part of relationships in contemporary society. 

Danish filmmaker and cinematographer Lea Glob has been attracting attention since her debut in 2015, and in the SFF program, we present her third film "Apollonia, Apollonia", the story of a talented woman who has been trying to find her place in art for more than a decade. Growing up in an artistic, bohemian community, Apollonia Sokol first stepped in front of the Globe's camera in 2009; over the years, a special bond has formed between the two, and the result is a compelling film portrait.

Ukrainian director Igor Ivanko's debut film "Fragile Memory" has screened at festivals in Tel Aviv, Angers, Krakow, and Trieste - and won accolades and acclaim everywhere. The narrative is constructed around old photographs that belonged to his grandfather, the Ukrainian filmmaker Leonid Burlaka. The photographs with their worn emulsion, just like the fading film stock in the archives, are a symbol of vanishing memory, and the aim of this documentary is to save lives from oblivion.

With awards from documentary forums in Valencia, Krakow, and Toulouse, the Spanish-French co-production "Toliatti Drift" by director Laura Sistero will also tell the audience in Sofia about the total transformation of the Russian town of Togliatti. The drive for change is carried by the young people in the Fighting Classics movement, who have succeeded in turning the legendary Lada cars into an emblem of rebellious sentiment in a place where the future is likely to become an anti-utopia. 

Two-time Oscar-nominated director Steve James re-creates a deeply human narrative in his new documentary A Compassionate Spy, which premiered on the Venice 2022 program. Its protagonist is the remarkable University of Chicago graduate Theodore Hall, who worked on the Manhattan Project to create the first atomic bomb. The film is a thrilling tale of love, intrigue, and the lengths some people will go to save the world.

Known for her psychological thrillers, most notably those about the unscrupulous con man Tom Ripley, Patricia Highsmith touched countless hearts with her unique novel "The Price of Salt," adapted by Todd Haynes into the film "Carol." The documentary portrait "Loving Highsmith," by Swiss writer and director Eva Vitia, recounts Highsmith's tumultuous love affair that made her the writer everyone knows and the woman about whom too little is still known.

Through the personal archives of Moldovan families documenting the transition from socialism to capitalism in the 1990s, director Otilia Babara presents the delicacy of emotional bonds through the eyes of a generation of mothers and daughters forced to live apart in order to survive. The director's feature documentary debut "Love is Not an Orange", a co-production between Moldova, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium, is a portrait of a post-Soviet country at the crossroads of history. 

In his latest film, "Matter out of place", acclaimed Austrian filmmaker Nikolaus Geirhalter follows the trail of household waste across the planet and sheds light on the never-ending struggle of people to establish control over vast amounts of garbage. His film arrives in Sofia with the World Wide Fund for Nature's Green Leopard Award from the 2022 Locarno Film Festival. 

Another documentary work was awarded in Locarno - "Gigi the Law" received the Special Jury Prize. According to its writer and director Alessandro Commodin, this film is "a fragment of life in frontier Italy" and tells the story of a provincial policeman who observes an unexplained wave of suicides and investigates the strange world between reality and fantasy, in which a garden turns into a jungle and an ever-smiling lawman has opened his heart to love... 

Don't miss the special selection of documentaries in the program of the 27th Sofia Film Festival!

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