"Women in Cinema" at the 26th Sofia Film Festival

The festival will present a special program of films by Bulgarian women directors

Although the relative share of films made by women directors is still small, some of the most successful Bulgarian works created since 1989 are the work of ladies. The 26th Sofia Film Festival will emphasize their role in building the image of contemporary Bulgarian cinema with a special program of 11 films by directors who have entered cinema in the last four decades. Among them are Adela Peeva (started in the 80s), Iglika Trifonova (in the 90s), Zornitsa Sofia, Svetla Tsotsorkova and Nadezhda Koseva (in the first decade after 2000), the star of all others rises after 2010 - Kristina Grozeva, Maya Vitkova, Ralitsa Petrova, Elitsa Petkova, Mina Mileva and Vessela Kazakova, Yana Titova. The films will be presented by their authors at the Cinema House in the period between March 1-10, 2022. The program does not claim to include all the successes of women in the new Bulgarian cinema, some of which are the work of famous figures such as Eldora Traykova, Milena Andonova, Anna Petkova , Malina Petrova, the younger Silvia Pesheva, Kristina Nikolova, Ruzie Hasanova and many others. We consider this program to be "Part 1" and we will be happy to continue it, presenting classic and future works of women in Bulgarian cinema.

Iglika Trifonova, who will receive the Sofia Award and will be chairwoman of the international jury of the 26th SFF, is one of the most active and successful contemporary Bulgarian directors. She entered the cinema world with documentaries, but gained worldwide recognition with the feature films "Letter to America" (2000) and "Investigation" (2006). "The Prosecutor, the Defender, the Father and His Son" (2016) is a work that Iglika has been working on for 10 years. The project started from the international co-production market Sofia Meetings and won the ScriptEast award for best screenplay from Central and Eastern Europe at the Cannes Film Festival (2011). The film is based on an actual case from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and tells the story of a Serb youth involved in war crimes in Bosnia who has to testify in The Hague against a senior Serbian military man.

"Whose Song Is This?" (2003) by documentary filmmaker Adela Peeva is one of her most successful works in her 50-year career as a director. Shown at more than 60 festivals and winning many prestigious awards, the film is "a comic-dramatic and tragic story about the search for the truth about a song" in almost all Balkan countries. Adela Peeva is the only Bulgarian director to be nominated for a documentary award by the European Film Academy for "Whose Song Is This?" And "Divorce in Albanian Style" (2008). She is also the first Bulgarian woman director to win the Sofia Award of the Sofia Municipality and the SFF. In 2017, Adela Peeva created the website www.zeni-bg-kino.com, which focuses on the work and achievements of women in Bulgarian cinema.

"Mila from Mars" (2004) is the space launch of Zornitsa Sofia, presented at the first edition of the market for co-productions Sofia Meetings. The main role in the film is played by actress Vessela Kazakova, who in 2006 was included in the special selection of the Berlinale "Shooting Stars" for rising stars. City orphan Mila, who resembles an extreme version of Jody Foster in “Taxi Driver” (according to Variety), and the World of the Elderly, who received a collective award for "warmest, most original and fascinating acting" at the Sarajevo Film Festival face off in a film awarded for its unconventionality and cinematic originality.

Svetla Tsotsorkova won one of the first Jameson Awards for Bulgarian short film at the Sofia Film Festival with "Life with Sofia" (2004). She made her debut in 2014 with”Thirst”, which started in San Sebastian. Her second feature film "Sister" (2019) has an enviable festival destiny - its world premiere is again in San Sebastian, in the program "New Directors", where it was awarded with a Special Mention. "Tsotsorkova's film is about family life and sisterhood, about the small, supposedly innocent lies in a family, and about the way in which contradictions between close people can be overcome," Variety writes. The screenplay is by Svetoslav Ovcharov and Svetla Tsotsorkova, who are also producers of the film, co-produced with Doha - Qatar. "Sister" started its way as a project of Sofia Meetings and was supported by the festivals in Aras (France), Thessaloniki (Greece), Hong Kong (China).

Nadezhda Koseva appeared before the world in 2005 with the short story "The Ritual", part of the omnibus "Generation - Lost and Found", that opened the Forum of Young Cinema in Berlin. Years later and after the success of “Omelet” (Special Mention in Short Film from Sundance, 2008), she made her feature film debut “Irina” (2018), which won over 15 international awards, in which actress MartinaApostolova shines with her magnetic presence. The plot follows Irina, who has to save her family and decides to become a surrogate mother - to take the child of strangers for a fee. Gradually she discovers what feelings and emotions are behind love and forgiveness…

"Glory" (2016) comes after "Lesson" (2014). Is it the same in life ?! The directorial tandem of Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov would not have had the same charge without the bright female presence in it, marked by impressive roles of the actress Margita Gosheva. "Lesson", "Glory" and "Father" are presented in various editions of the Sofia Meetings co-production market and have won prestigious awards from around the world, the latter receiving the "Crystal Globe" in Karlovy Vary. Their stories invariably captivate the audience with their authentic emotional plots, inspired by real events. "We are interested in social issues, issues of human relations. We like to make human films about human beings that show how they live in reality, be it political or social. We focus on how they cope with everything that happens to them ", reveals Kristina Grozeva.

In 2014, "Victoria" by Maya Vitkova-Kosev is the first Bulgarian feature film to premiere at the most important festival for independent cinema in the world: "Sundance". Followed by over 70 international participations and many awards. "Victoria" is a mirror image of life - laughter, sadness, suffering and delight. The story follows the heroine of the same name, born at the end of communism and declared a "baby of the decade" because she was born without a navel. Political changes in Bulgaria are putting to the test the relationship between Victoria and her mother, who has vowed not to have children while totalitarianism reigns in the country. "Victoria is both an intimate and an epic film, using dramatically captivating, visually inventive and full of metaphors and ironic style." (John Nine, Senior Programmer, Sundance Festival)

Ralitsa Petrova's feature debut "Godless" (2016) surprised with her outstanding breakthrough - she was awarded the Golden Leopard for Best Film at the Locarno Film Festival, and the Best Actress (Irena Ivanova) award of the Ecumenical jury and critics in Switzerland; in its collection there are more than 20 awards from around the world, including the Grand Prize of the jury of the SFF 2017. The story of "Godless" has a realistic plot, but it is allegorical. The image of the main character is a collective image of all of us - "Godless" is mostly a human story - it tells about the pain resulting from the lack of justice, moral values, "said Ralitsa Petrova.

Elitsa Petkova made her debut with the film "Zhaleyka" (2016), which won recognition from the jury in the "Generation 14+" competition at the Berlinale and was the winner of the International Competition of the 20th SFF. Initially, Petkova focused on documentary cinema. In 2015, her short film "Absinthe" was included in the program of "Cinéfondation" in Cannes. The feature film "Zhaleyka" tells the story of 17-year-old Laura, who has to deal with reality after the death of her father. And although she wants to enjoy her youth, her desire to live a normal life is thwarted by the discontent of others who force her to play the role of an orphan…

The directorial debut of the actress Yana Titova "Dose of Happiness" (2019) is based on the true story in the autobiographical novel by journalist Vessela Toteva "Fall and Salvation: The Confession of a Heroin Addict". "It's not just a movie - it's our mission, our cause. Our focus has always been for the film to reach as many people as possible. We believe that the story of Veseto will change lives, awaken the spirits and excite the audience, "said Yana Titova, and" A Dose of Happiness "has become one of the most watched Bulgarian films of the last few years.

"Women Do Cry" (2021) is the second feature film of the directorial duo Mina Mileva and Vessela Kazakova after "Cat in the Wall" (2019, premiered in Locarno) and several successful documentaries. Presented to Sofia Meetings selectors, the film started from the main program in Cannes, participating in "Un Certain Regard". It is followed by Karlovy Vary, Sarajevo, a glamorous premiere in Sofia and dozens of other festivals and awards. "Women Do Cry" is a family drama about the right to be yourself through a smile and forgiveness, a film about a woman - uncomfortable, struggling, modern. "This is a film that affirms the strength, beauty and toughness of women," says Mina Mileva. "The film is honest in its absurdity and therefore causes a lot of joy and laughter, sympathy and therefore easy to watch," added Vessela Kazakova.

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