On the occasion of the anniversary of the festival, SIFF will present 10 exceptional directors with a film. Some of the works have been digitally restored and can be seen only in the cinemas and the program of the 25th Sofia Film Fest! The second part of “SFF 10” includes films by Jafar Panahi, Milcho Manchevski, Jim Jarmusch, Mohsen Makhmalbaf and Cristi Puiu.
The great Iranian director Jafar Panahi will receive the Sofia Award of Sofia Municipality in this jubilee year for SFF. He is one of the most significant creators of the “new wave” in Iranian cinema. Following a conflict with the Iranian government over several years over the content of his films, The Circle (2000) and Crimson Gold (2003) were banned, and in 2010 Iranian authorities arrested Panahi, accusing him of propaganda. against the authorities and sentenced him to six years in prison, imposing a 20-year ban on making films, giving interviews and leaving the country. But political reality cannot stop his creative spirit. His film 3 Faces (2018), Closed Curtain (2013) and Taxi (2015), which received applause from its premieres in Berlin and around the world, were made during the ban on making movies.
At the very end of the 20th century, the world-famous Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski, a good friend of Sofia Film Fest, presented his masterpiece Before the Rain (1994) in person in Sofia. Over the years, the Bulgarian audience has met with all the films of the director, most of them presented by him personally as a guest of the festival. The autumn edition of the 24th SFF in 2020 was opened with the Bulgarian premiere of his latest film Willow (2019), and in March 2021 the younger generations will have the opportunity to see on the big screen the digitally restored Before the Rain – nominated for a foreign language Oscar, awarded 11 prizes at the Venice Film Festival in 1994, including Golden Lion for best film. The work is a kind of mosaic of human destinies, which in an unpredictable way intertwine and create an image of reality, and personal happiness inevitably depends on the path you take…
Jim Jarmusch is one of the undisputed legends in the world of American independent cinema. A full retrospective of the director was included in the SFF program in 2009, in the pandemic 2020 we had the opportunity to see his latest film The Dead Don’t Die (2019), and in March the Bulgarian audience will have the chance to see another of his cult works, which premiered in the program of Cannes – Down by Law (1986), starring Tom Waits, Roberto Benigni and John Lurie. The story follows two unsuccessful losers who meet in prison in New Orleans. They are joined by Roberto, whose poor English and memories of old movies both irritate and entertain them. In the end, however, it is this sweet-spoken, optimistic little man who leads the two self-proclaimed strong guys to freedom…
One of the most popular and influential Iranian directors Mohsen Makhmalbaf was presented in the SFF program with a retrospective in 2002, and the jubilee festival selection includes one of his most significant works — Kandahar (2001), nominated for Golden Palm at the beginning of the century. The film tells the story of a young journalist born in Afghanistan who fled to Canada during the civil war with the Taliban. Years later, her sister sent a letter announcing her decision to commit suicide during the next solar eclipse. Nafas has only three days to break into the country and reach the city of Kandahar to stop it. Covering herself with a thick burqa to enter Afghanistan, she personally experienced the suffocating lack of freedom to which Afghan women were subjected.
Cristi Puiu is an outstanding screenwriter and director, one of the main figures of the Romanian “new wave” of cinema and in 2021 will be one of the winners of the special FIPRESCI 96 Platinum Award, awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics. His latest film Manor House (2020) will be screened at the autumn special edition of the 25th Sofia Film Fest. The story recreates philosophical discussions from the early twentieth century between five aristocratic heroes who spend the Christmas holidays in a remote country estate. The film is based on the utopian-philosophical text of the Russian thinker Vladimir Solovyov “Three Dialogues on War, Progress and the End of History”, written shortly before his death in 1900.
One of the missions of Sofia Film Fest over the past 25 years was to present to the Bulgarian audience iconic authors of world cinema, as well as emerging talents who over the years have established themselves as one of the leading directors of auteur cinema. They have been presented with retrospectives, and the festival has regularly monitored the development of those entering the international cinema scene, including their films in the festival’s programs.
Sofia Film Fest is realized with the support of Sofia Municipality.
The main co-organizers and partners are the Ministry of Culture, the National Film Center Executive Agency and the Creative Europe MEDIA Program of the European Union.