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SOFIA 2015 Awards

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The Sofia IFF teaches The Lesson

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- Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s first feature sweeps its homeland’s biggest festival by taking home four prizes

The Sofia IFF teaches The Lesson
Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, with the Grand Prix for The Lesson

The Sofia International Film Festival (5-15 March) came to an end on Saturday evening with the triumph of Bulgarian sensation The Lesson [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Kristina Grozeva, Petar Val…
interview: Margita Gosheva
film profile
]
, the first feature by filmmaking duo Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov. The film (read the review), which had already had its European premiere at San Sebastián, going on to win Best Film in the New Directors section, won the FIPRESCI Award, the Audience Award, the Award for Best Bulgarian Film and the festival’s Grand Prix. The ceremony, hosted by the festival’s director, Stefan Kitanov, saw the two Sofia-based directors come on stage four times to receive the prizes (plus a Bulgarian rose with each one). “In 2015, we celebrate 100 years of Bulgarian cinema, and I hope that we will do this by making as many films this year,” remarked Grozeva during their thank-you speeches. The previous Bulgarian film to win both the national and the international competition was Dragomir Sholev’s Shelter [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, in 2011.

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Handed out by a jury chaired by their fellow countryman and filmmaker Stephan Komandarev, the list of awards in the international competition was rounded off by the Special Jury Award handed to German filmmaker Burhan Qurbani’s We Are Young. We Are Strong [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, and the Best Director Award bestowed upon Hungarian director Gabor Reisz for For Some Inexplicable Reason [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]

The festival’s parallel sections also celebrated the new talents of European and Asian cinema. The Bulgarian competition, led by The Lesson, also saw a Special Mention for Dimitar Dimitrov’s Corpse Collector [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
. The Balkan Films competition was conquered by Turkish filmmaker Hüseyin Karabey’s Come to My Voice [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Hüseyin Karabey
film profile
]
, which received the Domaine Boyar Award, while Romanian director Radu Jude took home the Special Mention for his Berlinale success Aferim! [+see also:
film review
trailer
film focus
interview: Radu Jude
film profile
]
. Lastly, Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
triumphed in the documentary section, which also handed out a Special Mention for Croatian first-timer Tiha K Gudac’s Naked Island [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
.

In the meantime, the industry section of the festival, the Sofia Meetings, welcomed 16 project pitches within its programme, granting awards to five of them: Ali Jaberansari’s The Ladder (the Hungarian Filmlab Award), Grigol Abashidze’s Neighbours (the Focusfox Studio Post Production Award), Hüseyin Karabey’s Misty Illumination (the Synchro Film, Video & Audio Award), Dragomir Sholev’s Pig (the Yapimlab Young Producer Award) and Francesco Costabile's The T Factor (the Mediterranean Film Institute Award).

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