Theodore Ushev (Canada/Bulgaria), director, jury president
Theodore Ushev is a Bulgarian multimedia artist, director and graphic designer. For the last 15 years, he worked for the National Film Board of Canada. He has made more than 15 films and received more than 200 awards worldwide, including an Oscar nomination („Blind Vaysha“, 2016), a „Crystal“ from Annecy, two awards for Best Animated film from the Canadian Film Institute, Honorary medal from the French Academy of Motion Picture Arts „César“ and a „Golden Globe“ for Best Short Movie. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences AMPAS and Chevalier of the „Ordre des Arts et des Lettres“ (Order of Arts and Letters) of France.
Ilya Khrzhanovskiy (Russia), director
Ilya Khrzhanovsky is a film director, creative producer, member of the European Film Academy. In 2004 his debut film „4“ was released. The film won awards, including „Golden Cactus“ for uncompromising art and „Golden Tiger“ for best film at Rotterdam film festival, prizes for best director at Buenos Aires and Athens film festivals, Grand Prix at Seattle and Transylvania film festivals and others. The film „4“ was nominated for the „Discovery of the Year“ award of the European Film Academy. DAU is his second project. It is a multidisciplinary project that combines film, art and anthropology. The project premiered in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet and Théâtre de la Ville in 2019. At the same time an exhibition-installation on the DAU project opened at the Centre Pompidou. The project's two films „DAU. Natasha“ and „DAU. Degeneration“ were included in the official program of Berlinale 2020. The film „DAU. Degeneration“ topped the rating of the international film critics' community at the Berlinale, and cameraman Jürgen Jürges received the Silver Bear with "Outstanding Achievement in Film Art" for „DAU. Natasha“.
Svetla Tsotsorkova (Bulgaria), director
Svetla graduated from the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia in 2004. Her first short film „Life with Sophia“ (2004) was screened at Cannes Critics’ Week, Karlovy Vary, Telluride etc., winning various awards. Her first feature „Thirst“ (2015) had its world premiere in the „New Directors“ competition at San Sebastian. The film participated in over 60 international festivals, received various awards and was sold for distribution in 15 countries. It was also nominated by the EFA for „European Discovery“ in 2016. Svetla’s second feature „Sister“ (2019) also premiered at San Sebastian, where it received Special Mention Award. The film won the Young FIPRESCI Jury Award in Warsaw, Best Film at Film Festival Cottbus - Germany, at Cinedays - North Macedonia, at Sofia International Film Festival and Bosphorus International Film Festival among many others awards and festivals. As a producer Svetla has worked on 7 feature films and 5 documentaries which have been presented all around the world.
Natasha Petrovic (North Macedonia), actress
Natasha Petrovic was born in Shtip 1988. She graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Skopje. In 2010, she became a member of the founder's team до the independent theater for performing arts „Theatra“. Since 2016 she is a member of „Artopia“ - association for cultural activity, creation and education. Through years she gathered extensive experience by working on stage and for cinema and television both domestic and internationally. Her movie career began with a role Dea in Milcho Manchevski's „Shadows“, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007. In 2009 she was cast in the lead role of Samira in Juanita Wilson's feature debut „As If I Am Not There“, premiered at the Saraevo International Film Festival. For this performance she won the Best International Actress award at the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival. In 2011 she was selected to be one of the European Shooting Stars at the Berlinale film festival. In 2013 she played the role Katerina in the feature film 'Lazar' directed by Svetozar Ristovski, presented in the Balkan Competition of 20th Sofia Film Festival. She was also the leading role in the feature film 'Elixir' shot in Berlin and premiered at Berlinale 2015; she also plays Ines in 'Witness', directed by Mitko Panov, where one of her acting partners was the legendary German actor Bruno Ganz. In 2020 the movie ‘Only Human’ directed by Igor Ivanov – Izi, she played the role of Keti and in the same year she became part of the cast of „Prespav“ which is one of the most popular TV shows in North Macedonia. Currently she is working at the Theatre for children and youth in Skopje.
Szabolcs Hajdu (Hungary), director
Hajdu graduated at the University of Theatre and Film Arts Budapest. Since 2003, he has held numerous workshops and masterclasses in acting and directing. His first feature film, „Sticky Maters“ (2000) won the award for best first film at the Hungarian Film Week, as well as the Special Jury Prize at the Kiev Molodist International Film Festival. His 2006 film „White Palms“ premiered at the Festival de Cannes – Quinzaine de Réalisateurs and received the Special Mention of the jury of the „East of the West“ competition section at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. „It's Not The Time Of My Life“ (2016) was premiered at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and won the Crystal Globe Award for Best Film and Best Actor. Prior to the film, the theatre edition of „It’s Not The Time Of My Life“ premiered in 2015, which was followed by two other acclaimed, independent theatre projects. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s „Gloria“ was his directorial debut at a state theatre Radnóti Miklós Színház in Budapest 2019. Szabolcs Hajdu's latest work, the film „Treasure City“ (2020) premiered during the Covid-19 pandemic in an online format, becoming the first film in Hungary that was run and promoted solely online.
Lili Horvath (Hungary), director
Lili Horvát was born in 1982 and grew up in Budapest. She studied audiovisual arts at the Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris and film directing at the University of Theatre and Film in Budapest. „The Wednesday Child“, Lili's first feature won the „East of the West“ competition at Karlovy Vary 2015 and received numerous awards worldwide. In 2016, Lili co-founded the production company „Poste Restante“ which produced her second feature, „Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time“.
John-Paul Davidson (United Kingdom), director
After 15 years specialising in making anthropological films at the BBC he went freelance to make „The Grotesque“ starring Alan Bates, Sting, and Lena Headey. Drama-documentaries „Galahad of Everest“ with Brian Blessed, „Catherine the Great“ and „Seve: The Movie“ have been interspersed with filmed portraits of Gore Vidal, Jean Genet, The Dalai Lama, Hugh Laurie, Brazilian transvestites, Voodoo priests, Disney’s Feature Animation Studio, Hmong opium harvesters and Mosuo matriarchs amongst many others. He has produced and directed the last four series with Michael Palin travelling across the Sahara, the Himalaya, New Europe and Brazil .With Stephen Fry he travelled across all 50 of the United States in a black cab, through Central America in an American school bus, got chased by komodo dragons and delved into language in all its manifestations in „Planet Word“. His latest film „The Man in the Hat“, included in 25th Sofia Film Festival’s programme, was made together with the composer Stephen Warbeck, stars Ciaran Hinds, Stephen Dillane and Maiwenn.
Doron Eran (Israel), producer and director
A well-established Israeli producer and director with over 25 years of experience in feature films, TV dramas, and documentary films. As a filmmaker and entrepreneur, Eran had produced over 50 features and TV films and series for the Israeli and international markets. Eran directed several feature films with a careful and critical insight on social problems of the society in which he lives. His films have been officially selected and nominated in major international Film Festivals
Lech Kowalski (United Kingdom), director