The Films in the Documentary Competition of the 28th Sofia Film Festival

In 2024, the selection of works in the Documentary Competition of the Sofia International Film Festival is at the world level. So far, six of the 12 titles have been submitted and will be judged by a jury composed of filmmakers Vitaliy Manskiy (Latvia, Chairman), Maria Averina (Bulgaria) and Darko Lungulov (Serbia):

"1489" - Armenia, director Shoghakat Vardanyan
"Balkan Black Box" - Bulgaria, directed by Tzvetan Dragnev
"Feet in Water, Head on Fire" - USA-Canada, director Terra Long
"Our Body - France, directed by Claire Simon
The Last Seagull" - Finland-Bulgaria-Norway, directed by Tonislav Hristov
"Four Daughters" - France-Tunisia-Germany-Saudi Arabia, director Kaouther Ben Hania

Here are the other films in the Documentary Competition:

Daniel McCabe's "Grasshopper Republic" (USA) takes the audience deep into the forests of Uganda, where millions of grasshoppers gather to mate. A group of young men hunt down this hard-to-reach prey to turn it into a prized delicacy, as giant light poles rise and their eerie neon-green light draws the swarms irresistibly towards the set traps. The film provokes serious reflection on the relationship between humans and nature and the destructive impact on it.

Pieter Van Eecke's "Planet B" (Belgium-Netherlands) is also linked to the environmental theme - it is a coming-of-age story of two young people in a world that is destroying itself. Thirteen-year-old Bo grows up in a protected environment where everything seems possible, but is frightened by the gloomy predictions of the future. Together with her friend Luka, she decides to fight against climate change. Searching for their way, they try to transform a world that continues to "eat" its own future...

"Soundtrack to a Coup d'État" (Belgium-France-Netherlands) is a moving and dynamic essay film exploring a particularly inglorious chapter in the history of the Cold War: the neocolonial manoeuvres that led to the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the newly independent Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1961. Belgian filmmaker Johan Grimonprez explores the role of his homeland, along with the US Eisenhower administration, in Lumumba's assassination, cleverly linking the wider context to the music of American jazz legends used by the US as a kind of cover for CIA involvement in Africa. The film is constructed from valuable archival footage and numerous quotes from key players in the events.

In Vita Maria Drygas' "Danger Zone" (Poland-UK), viewers witness a strange passion for generating adrenaline. Rick, from the United States, fails to enlist in the army, so he comes up with his own alternative and creates the company War Zone Tours, which organizes trips to conflict zones. The adventurers voluntarily get into life-threatening situations, and the film is an intelligent account of the luxury of knowing war only as a spectacle.

The original idea for "Joan Baez: I Am a Noise" (USA), a documentary about the folk music legend, was for it to chronicle the 82-year-old singer's final tour. Once the key to all her archives fell into the hands of director and longtime friend Karen O'Connor, the film took on a whole new dimension - becoming a comprehensive biography of Baez's life: from her childhood to the present day, with concert footage and interviews with those closest to her. Working alongside O'Connor on the film are directors Miri Navasky and Meave O'Boyle. “Joan Baez: I Am a Noise” is a window into the past, a chance to learn about the singer's remarkable career in the throes of activist culture and the anti-war movement, as well as moments from her heartbreaking relationship with Bob Dylan.

François Neméta's "Michel Gondry: Do It Yourself!" (France) celebrates Gondry's eccentric artistic talent and his body of work, spanning from the Academy Award-winning original screenplay "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" to numerous music videos. Throughout his 30-year career, Michel Gondry has exemplified the endless inspiration one can draw from the world around him. His craftsmanship has always piqued the curiosity of his admirers with the particular magic inherent in his sense of image-making, and his distinctly humanist ambition translates into a political act...

Don't miss the films from the international documentary competition of the 28th Sofia International Film Fest!

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