Open Class Cinema Forum celebrates 10th anniversary in Sofia


    The newest installment of Patrick Sandrin's film conference initiative "Regards sur le monde" (started in 2005), Impressions of Africa, attracted researchers and film lovers this weekend at the Sfumato Theatre Laboratory in Sofia. The 10th Open Class of the high profile European Intercultural Project took place under the honorary presidency of Bulgarian mediator Ginyo Ganev.

    There were three special African guests: Senegalese documentary film director Samba Felix N'Diaye, Paris based anthropologist Brice Ahounou and Malian traditional musician Cheick Tidiane Dia. The two days seminars (May 31 and June 1) were vividly animated by the Cahiers du cinema ex-editor-in-chief Charles Tesson, the RFI political journalist Catherine Ruelle, and Patrick Sandrin himself. The audience had the unique chance to watch extracts belonging to the film heritage of the African continent. The list of the directors included names such as Sembene Ousmane, Oumarou Ganda, Souleyman Cisse, Idrissa Ouedraogo, and Abderrhamane Cissako. The subjects were developed following the historical evolution of African cinema: ‘The Years of Fire' (1955-1975); ‘The Years of Lead' (1975-2000); ‘Authors, Actors and Musicians' (1975-2000); ‘Contemporary Cinema: the Change' (2000-2008). The interactive session ended with Felix N'Diaye's newest film, Questions to the Native Earth, made by the director during his first return to Senegal after a 35 years exile in France. He testified that the film was still banned by his home country authorities and touched the audience with intimate memories from the time of his friendship with deceased director Sembene Ousmane.

    Based on the successful earlier open classes Europe in Hollywood, New Asiatic cinemas, and Paris seen by..., Sandrin announced his firm decision to go on with the unique mega project. He also reminded that Laurent Cantet (just awarded with the Cannes Palm d'Or for Class) was among the honorary participants in the December 2005 presentation, Film and World of Labour.

    Samdrin plans to continue with five open classes per year. Each of the project's editions costs over 25,000 euros. The annual amount is entirely backed by his 10-year-old Sofia-based Sofilm company.