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SOFIA 2021

The Sofia International Film Festival is poised to have an adventurous 25th anniversary

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- Bulgaria’s biggest film event kicks off today with a hybrid spring edition, to be followed by a second iteration later this year

The Sofia International Film Festival is poised to have an adventurous 25th anniversary
German Lessons by Pavel Vesnakov

One can only imagine what it must be like to be on the team of the Sofia International Film Festival. One year after the 2020 edition was cancelled only days before it was supposed to begin, the festival again faces an enormous amount of uncertainty, which must have been especially daunting given the fact that the 25th edition should have been a celebratory one. But one can still hope for the best while preparing for the worst, and the Sofia IFF seems poised to show that culture and cinema are here to stay, despite the trying circumstances.

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The festival takes place in a hybrid format this year, with approximately 150 features being screened in as many as eight venues (cinemas are open at 30% capacity), while 70 films are available on the festival’s online viewing platforms. The Sofia edition kicks off today and ends on 19 March.

As usual, the main competition consists of 12 first or second features: Byamba Sakhya's Bedridden (Mongolia), Karim Mohammad Amini's The Black Cat (Iran), Baras Sarhan's The Cemil Show (Turkey), Pavel Vesnakov's German Lessons [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Pavel G Vesnakov
film profile
]
(Bulgaria/Germany), Alex Camilleri's Luzzu [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Alex Camilleri
film profile
]
(Malta), Alexander Kossev's Petya of My Petya (Bulgaria), Iuli Gerbase's The Pink Cloud (Brazil), Balázs Krasznahorkai's Ravine (Hungary), David Lanzmann's Savage Days (France), Christian Johannes Koch's Spagat [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Christian Johannes Koch
film profile
]
(Switzerland), Reinis Kalviņš' The Shift (Latvia) and Zhou Ziyang's Wuhai (China) are competing for this edition’s awards.

The international jury consists of Canadian-based Bulgarian film director Theodore Ushev (who is in post-production with his first feature, Phi 1.618 - see the news), Bulgarian helmer Svetla Tsotsorkova, Russian filmmaker Ilya Khrzhanovsky, Hungarian director Szabolcs Hajdu and Macedonian actress Nataša Petrović.

Directors Terry Gilliam and Cristi Puiu will receive honorary awards. The Sofia edition of the festival will be followed by smaller editions in the towns of Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas, which will unspool until 31 March. A second iteration of the festival, hopefully more welcoming for both the audience and the international guests, will be organised later this year.

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