Bulgaria’s capital city to be part of 2023 Film O’Clock International Festival

Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia will be part of the Film O’ Clock International Festival, being held from February 28 to March 4 2023, a media statement by the organisers said.

Simultaneous screenings will be held in seven cinemas across as many countries: Cinema Muzeul Țăranului (Bucharest, Romania), Skalvija Cinema (Vilnius, Lithuania), Cinema Zhovten (Kiev, Ukraine), Krasno Selo Cultural Centre (Sofia, Bulgaria), Cinema Andora (Athens, Greece), Zawya Cinema (Cairo, Egypt) and the Labia Theatre (Cape Town, South Africa), along with online debates and discussions.

Film O’Clock International Festival aims to present audiences with two important elements: the discovery and promotion of new talent in the competitive short film section and the celebration of past masterpieces in the classic film section, the statement said.

While the competitive section aims to bring new voices to light and provide a platform for directors, actors and producers of short films, the classics section aims to recover and enhance the cultural heritage of cinema.

“The event organisers believe that in order to create and innovate, it is essential to understand cinematic heritage and recognise its role in the development of the cinematic art. Thus, by combining elements of tradition and innovation, Film O’Clock International Festival strives to bring film lovers together and create an environment conducive to the development of creativity and critical thinking in film,” the statement said.

For this year’s competitive section, Mirona Radu, director, producer and head of the Film O’Clock International Festival, Andrew Mohsen, film critic and artistic director of the Cairo International Film Festival and Zhana Kalinova, cultural manager and programmer at Sofia International Film Festival, selected the 10 best short films from the seven participating countries.

From more than 70 submissions received, the committee chose the following 10 films that will compete for the festival awards:

– Aurică, a Dog’s Life, directed by Mihai Dragolea, Romania, fiction, 2022, 12′

– Canary, directed by Chrysoula Korovesi and Marios Gampierakis, Greece, animation, 2021, 6′

– Dad’s sneakers, directed by Olha Zhurba, Ukraine, fiction, 2021, 19′

– Iota Period Omega, directed by Alexis Alexiou, Greece, documentary, 2022, 13′

– Liturgy of Anti-Tank Obstacles, directed by Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk, Ukraine, documentary, 2022, 12′

– My Girl Friend, directed by Kawthar Younis, Egypt, fiction, 2022, 17′

– On/Off, directed by Jurg Slabbert, South Africa, fiction, 2022, 18′

– Parking Lot, directed by Jorė Janavičiūtė, Lithuania, fiction, 2021, 13′

– Theatrical Romance, directed by Teodora-Kosara Popova, Bulgaria, fiction, 2021, 27′

  • To Vancouver, directed by Artemis Anastasiadou, Greece, fiction, 2021, 24′

In the classic films section, this year’s festival presents seven remarkable titles, considered “modern classics” from the transition period of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Each of these films represents a facet of the value of freedom and is an example of high-quality cinema from the participating countries.

The statement said that these include the cinematic gem “12:08 East of Bucharest” by Corneliu Porumboiu, awarded the Camera D’Or at the 2006 Cannes International Film Festival, which opens the festival as a special screening in memory of Teodor Corban.

The section also includes the landmark Egyptian thriller “The Land of Fear” directed by Daoud Abdel Sayed, which won three awards at the Cairo International Film Festival in 1999, as well as the Lithuanian drama “The Children of Hotel America” directed by Raimundas Banionis. The latter film was shown at Berlinale Panorama in 1991 and explores the lives and dreams of a generation of young people in 1970s Lithuania.

The festival also brings the most awarded Bulgarian documentary film of recent years, “The Last Ambulance in Sofia”, directed by Ilian Metev, which captures the everyday life of an ambulance medical team and manages to convey a moving story in its own unique style.

Viewers will also have the opportunity to see “The Tuner,” a film by the famous Ukrainian director Kira Muratova, which premiered at the Venice International Film Festival in 2004. The film aims to offer a playful yet complex assessment of the human subject, civilisation and the creative act.

The festival will also present two works by the great Greek director Vassilis Vafeas, an essay film and a documentary, filmed 30 years apart in the same geographical area. The works explore different ways of approaching the relationship between people and time, people and place, and the relationship with works of art. Before the screening of his films, viewers will be treated to a short online introduction with the director, streamed to the cinema.

Finally, the festival will conclude with a screening of Oliver Schmitz’s “Life Above All”, a South African cinematic gem that follows the moving story of a 12-year-old girl in the Johannesburg suburbs. The screening will be followed by an online Q&A session with the film’s director, also streamed in the cinema.

In addition to film screenings and discussions with creative teams, the festival will hold two online events on March 4.

At 11.30am, “Rethinking the Classics: A Modern Perspective” a 90-minute talk, will bring together filmgoers, filmmakers, film critics and other industry experts to examine the definition of a “modern classic” and how films fit into this category by “challenging heritage.” The discussion will also focus on the new generation of filmmakers and how they reflect on the past and present.

Starting at 3pm, “Her Story, Her Future: Empowering Women in the Film Industry” will be another 90-minute talk exploring the power of mentoring and networking as a way to support and encourage women in the film industry. It will also provide information on platforms and initiatives in participating countries that explore opportunities for interaction and collaboration.

The Film O’Clock International Festival was established in 2021 with the goal of bringing together film enthusiasts and filmmakers residing in countries within the same time zone along the 25 degrees East longitude meridian. The festival celebrates time, empathy, and cultural diversity.

Trailer International Short Film Competition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5cwuA71Rps

Trailer Classic Cinema Section:

More details on the festival website: www.FoC-IFF.com.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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