10 International Directors and their Films in the Special Category “10” at the 25th Sofia Film Fest | Part 1

10 International Directors and their Films in the Special Category “10” at the 25th Sofia Film Fest | Part 1

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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 rising talents who over the years have established themselves as one of the leading directors of auteur cinema. The festival has presented established names with retrospectives and has regularly monitored the development of those entering the international cinema scene, including each of their new films in the festival’s programs. On the occasion of the festival anniversary, 10 exceptional directors will be presented with a film. Some of their works have been digitally restored and can be seen only in the cinemas and the program of the 25th Sofia Film Fest! The first part of “SFF 10” includes films by Wong Kar-wai, Kim Ki-duk, Aki Kaurismaki, Kornel Mundruczo and Pawel Pawlikowski.

Wong Kar-wai is one of those directors with his own style and magic that we can’t forget or miss even if you’ve seen a film his just once. He was born in 1958 in Shanghai. He surprised all the experts and the audience with his debut film As Tears Go By (1988). Days of Being Wild (1991) was a success in Korea and Europe and received numerous awards. For Happy Together (1997) Kar-wai received the award for best director at the Cannes Film Festival. In the Mood for Love (2000) is part of many charts, including the best films of all time, and is often cited as one of the best works of Asian cinema. It is this exceptional film, in its digitally restored 4K version, personally approved by Wong Kar-wai and with the director’s introduction, that will only be shown on the big screen in March – one of the most beautiful and magnetic love films ever made, presented with great success at the 8th Sofia Film Fest in 2004, in a special retrospective dedicated to the director. The story takes viewers to Hong Kong, back in 1962. The editor-in-chief of a local daily, Chow, and his wife moved into a new apartment building, mostly inhabited by the Shanghai community. He soon meets Li-zhen, a beautiful young woman who has also recently moved in with her husband, who often travels for work. As his own wife was often absent, Chow began to spend more and more time in Li-zhen’s company. The two become friends, but one day they are forced to look the truth in the face …

The incredible Kim Ki-duk, author of remarkable works such as The Isle (2000), Bad Guy (2001), Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (2003), Thе Bow (2005), tells stories filled with passion, revenge, and energy. He studied fine arts in Paris, worked as a screenwriter and was a self-taught director. He was born in a South Korean province, in the small village of Sobeni, and later moved to Seoul. The date of his birth is December 20, 1960, and his journey to earth was interrupted in 2020, after an unsuccessful fight against the virus that causes today’s pandemic reality … His works have been regularly present in the programs of the SFF and have a specific, recognizable style, he is a master of the exquisite, sensual scenes, in which the dialogue is almost absent, and images come to life in front of the audience, thanks to the talented actors and the brilliant vision of the director. 3-Iron (2004), which will be presented in March to the Bulgarian audience, conquered the world not only with originality and freshness but also with its provocativeness and sophistication. In 2004, the film won a Silver Lion for directing in Venice and the FIPRESCI Award. The story follows a homeless man who lives like a phantom; his daily life consists of temporary accommodation in houses and apartments, which he learns will be available (for a while). What happens when, at the whim of fate, his path intersects with that of a beauty who is doomed to an invisible existence?

After the special retrospective dedicated to Aki Kaurismaki in the program of the 24th Sofia Film Fest in the unusual and crucial 2020 year, in the jubilee 25th edition of the festival, а special attention will be paid to his latest story, filled with warmth and care for others – The Other Side of Hope (2017). The film was awarded the Silver Bear for directing in Berlin in 2017, and the story is the second film (after “Le Havre”, nominated for “Palme d’Or” in Cannes 2011) in a kind of trilogy, conceived by the Finnish director as a series of stories dedicated to port cities. Viewers follow two storylines that accidentally intersect. Khaled is a young Syrian refugee who has lost his entire family. At one point he found himself in Helsinki, where he sought refuge, with little prospect of success. The other character is the business traveler Wickstrom – at the beginning of the film, he leaves his alcoholic wife and his job to immerse himself in the world of gambling. The meeting between the two causes impressive transformations and an inspiring outburst of humanity. “As Dostoevsky said, ‘Watch the people. This way you will get to know them and understand them better. I’m just a moral person, I’m not a moralist, and I don’t find any sense in making films without a moral message … “, 

Kaurismaki summarizes the mission of his art and continues -” Would you like your messages to be understood by people? Then try to make a film for an international audience – this is the best way for everyone to see through your eyes the world we live in. ” 

Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo is well known to Bulgarian viewers who have seen all his films at the Sofia Film Fest over the years – since his debut Pleasant Days (2002), winner of the Grand Prize for Best Film in the first international competition of Sofia Film Fest in 2003, as well as Lost and Found (2005), the film Delta (2008), which won the FIPRESCI award in Cannes and Tender Son: The Frankenstein Project (2010), nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. In 2014, Mundruzzo presented to the world an exceptional provocation – White God (2014), winner of the grand prize of the “Special Look” competition from Cannes and the most sympathetic award from one of the most curious festivals in the world – “Dog Palm”, awarded to two of the 250 dogs in the film. The original and impressive Jupiter’s Moon (2017) also participated in Cannes, again in the main competition. At the 25th Sofia Film Fest, viewers will be able to watch his latest film – Pieces of a Woman (2020). The work is a co-production between the United States, Canada and Hungary, premiered in the Venice 2020 program, and the main roles are entrusted to Vanessa Kirby and  Shia LaBeouf. Kirby’s outstanding role earned her the Volpi Cup for Best Actress and a Golden Globe nomination.

“I wanted to talk about a taboo that has existed for a long time. Women who lose their babies for some reason are often isolated. People around them just don’t know how to help them deal with such a tragedy. This is the provocation to create this story. I wanted to put this plot in an environment that I know and am close to. So I chose a family of Holocaust survivors. The main character in the film – Martha is the third generation in such a family. The main question in the film is how people manage to cope with tragedies and what imprint they leave on their souls and on their children, ” Kornel Mundruczo shared about his film. 

 In 2019, Pawel Pawlikowski personally presented in Sofia his film Cold War (2018), declared the best European film, nominated for three Oscars and awarded the prize for directing in Cannes 2018. The work is a fascinating love story, fatally intertwined the fates of two people with different biographies and temperaments against the background of the raging Cold War between Eastern and Western Europe in the 50s of last century. The two are fatally unsuitable for each other, but their relationship is predetermined by fate… Pawlikowski draws inspiration from the fate of his parents. 

“They were the most interesting dramatic characters I’ve come across – strong people who loved and hated each other.” – says the director about them. The two fell in love, surrendered, reunited, married and divorced, and their relationship was revived and died many times until the end of their lives in 1989, shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall. When I was younger, I went crazy from the constant getting back together and separation of my parents. But when they died, I realized it was the biggest love story.”

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