FESTIVALS: Bulgarian Shelter Grabs Top Sofia IFF Award

By Pavlina Jeleva
    (SOFIA): Bulgarian director Dragomir Sholev and producer Rossitsa Valkanova accepted the Grand Prix of the 15th Sofia International Film Festival (4-13 March, www.siff.bg) for the debut feature film Shelter. Sholev co-wrote the script in collaboration with the Romanian/Dutch couple Razvan Radulescu and Melissa de Raaf.

    The prize included 5,000 Euro to be shared by the director, known up to now for his shorts (The Go-Between, 2008) and Valkanova's production company (www.klasfilm.com). Described as a story on "inter-generational misunderstandings" Shelter also received the Kodak award (www.kodakcinelabsbg.com) which includes laboratory services in the amount of 2,000 USD. Shelter previously won the "best debut" award at the 29th Varna National Film Festival.

    Chaired by the Icelandic film director Fridrik Thor Fridrikson the Sofia IFF International Jury, composed of German industry expert Gabriele Brunnenmeier and film directors Ognjen Svilicic from Croatia, Alvaro Brechner from Uruguay and Kamen Kalev from Bulgaria, delivered a special award to White as Snow, the poetical Turkish debut based on a novel by the famous Turkish writer Sabahattin Ali. Cinematographer/director Selim Günest employs an expressive visual style to show the efforts of a twelve-year-old boy to sell yogurt drinks in a cold maintain village.

    Joao Nuno Pinto won the best director award with a 1,000 Euro prize for the Spanish-Brazilian-Portugese -Russian co-production America distinguished by the strong story of a young Russian immigrant married to a Portuguese man.

    The Jameson Short Film Award and 6,000 Euros went to the 16 minute Bulgarian film Trains by Pavel Vesnakov.

    Ivailo Hristov's Footsteps in the Sand (www.imdb-bg.net), the touching immigration story of a young man (played by popular actor Ivan Barnev) set during the communist regime took the Best Balkan Film award with a 1,000 Euro prize.

    The FIPRESCI jury gave its award to the French-Swedish-Danish co-production Sound of Noise by directors Ola Simonson and Johannes Stjarne Nilsson.

    The best documentary prize, an award chosen by the audience, went to the good natured comedy about four men trying to find wives in Finland, The Rules of the Single Life. The protagonist of his own film, director Tonislav Hristov received 1,000 Euro provided by Bulgarian National Television (www.bnt.bg)

    Four eminent personalities received the Sofia Municipality Award: actress Claudia Cardinale, Georgian/French director Otar Iosseliani, Bulgarian actor Russi Chanev and French director Claude Lelouch (the only one not to receiving his award in person).