Bulgaria’s biggest annual cinema event, Sofia International Film Festival, opens on March 6 at the National Palace of Culture (NDK) with a screening of The Judgment, Bulgarian director Stefan Komandarev latest feature film.
As usual, the festival brings a bevy of big-name feature films unlikely to see a wide theatre release in Bulgaria. This year, the headliners are Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Volume I and Nymphomaniac: Volume II, with most of the Danish director’s previous films due to be screened as part of the festival – including Dogville, Manderlay, Melancholia and Antichrist, among others.
The programme also features screenings of several Oscar-nominated films: The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium, directed by Felix Van Groeningen) and The Great Beauty (Italy, Paolo Sorrentino), both nominated for best foreign-language film, as well The Act of Killing (Denmark/Norway/UK, Joshua Oppenheimer), nominated for best documentary feature.
The festival closes on March 16 with screenings of Wes Anderson’s much-anticipated comedy The Grand Hotel Budapest and Paolo Sorentino’s Golden Globe-winning The Great Beauty. In total, more than 200 feature, documentary and short films are scheduled to be screened during the festival and the additional programme that will run in Sofia, Plovdiv and Bourgas between March 17 and 30.
Other notable films that will be screen during the Sofia International Film Festival include Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Russia’s latest World War 2 blockbuster Stalingrad.
This year’s special screenings series is “banned Czechoslovak films” – features filmed in 1969 and immediately banned by the country’s communist government, not to see the light of day until two decades later. The list includes 322 by Dusan Hanák (the recipient of this year’s Sofia Municipality prize for his contributions to cinema) and Jirí Menzel’s Larks on a String (finally released in 1990, the film won Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival that year)
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 competitors for the Grand Prize are The Fold (UK, John Jencks), Dubrovskiy (Russia, Kirill Mikhanovsky and Alexander Vartanov), Giraffada (France/Palestine, Rani Massalha), Liar’s Dice (India, by Geethu Mohandas), The Disobedient (Serbia, by Mina Djukic), Trap Street (China, Vivian Qu), Stella Cadente (Spain, Luis Miñarro), Menthol (US, Micah Van Hove), Blind Dates (Georgia, Levan Koguashvili), Zoran, My Nephew the Idiot (Italy, Matteo Oleotto), Lose My Self (Germany, Jan Schomburg) and Mouse Poison (Bulgaria, Konstantin Burov).
For the full programme, screening times and cinemas, visit Sofia International Festival’s website. The programme can be navigated by film, listed alphabetically, by date and by cinema.