Bulgaria’s biggest annual cinema event, Sofia International Film Festival, opens on March 7 at the National Palace of Culture (NDK) with a screening of Vitosha – a documentary about both the mountain near Sofia and the protests in June 2012 against legislative amendments that would have eased restrictions on development in protected areas.
As is often the case, the festival will screen several Oscar-nominated films that did not have a theatre release in Bulgaria. This year, the films are Silver Linings Playbook (eight Oscar nominations, with Jennifer Lawrence winning for best actress); Amour (five Oscar nominations, winning for best foreign film); A Royal Affair and Kon-Tiki (both nominated for best foreign film).
Other notable titles included in this year’s programme are Blancanieves, the black-and-white silent film that retells Snow White’s fairy tale as a matador story in the 1920s Spain; Caesar Must Die, the story of the casting, rehearsal and performance of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by the inmates of an Italian high-security prison; Hitchcock, which chronicles the film director’s love story with future wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959; Iron Sky, the political satire and parody that sees modern-day Nazis invade Earth from their secret base on the Moon.
In total, more than 200 feature, documentary and short films are scheduled to be screened during the festival, which ends on March 17, and the additional programme that will run in Sofia, Plovdiv and Bourgas between March 18 and 24.
(For the full programme, screening times and cinemas, visit siff.bg. The programme can be navigated by film, listed alphabetically, by date and by cinema.)
This year, the festival’s special guest is Costa-Gavras, who will receive the Sofia Municipality prize for his contributions to cinema. The director, who has won both an Oscar and the Palme d’Or for his 1982 film Missing, will present his latest film, Capital, the story of the head of a giant European investment bank, who desperately clings to power when an American hedge fund tries to buy out his bank.
Twelve films will compete for the festival’s Grand Prize, open to nomination from anywhere in the world, but only to directors making their first or second feature films. This year’s jury is chaired by Turkish director Yeshim Ustaoglu, who is joined by directors Miroslav Momčilović (Serbia) and Konstantin Bojanov (Bulgaria), as well as actress Ada Kondeesku from Romania and British producer Mike Downey.
This year’s competitors for the Grand Prize are Gimme the Loot! (US, Adam Leon); July (Bulgaria, Kiril Stankov); A Month in Thailand (Romania, Paul Negoescu), Mona (Iceland/Latvia, Inara Coleman); Panihida (Moldova/Germany, Anna Felicia Skutelnicu); The Porcelain Horse (Ecuador/US, Javier Andrade); The Last Elvis (Argentina, Armando Bo); The Empty Home (Kyrgyzstan/Russia/France/UK, Nurbek Egen); The Colour of the Chameleon (Bulgaria, Emil Hristov); Honour (UK, Shan Khan); Sharkiya (Israel/France/Germany, Ami Livne); Oh Boy (Germany, Jan Ole Gerster).