Rhodope International Documentary Film Fest (RIFE)

    The revival of an emblematic international film festival for young filmmakers in Eastern Europe 

    The Festival 

    Rhodope International Documentary Film Festival (RIFE) is a new take on one of the most emblematic film events in Bulgaria for young filmmakers, held from 1973 to 1991 in the beautiful mountain town of Smolyan. 

    The revival of the festival is a daring idea in a challenging time from a group of local film professionals, who want to respond to the needs of today’s young filmmakers to exhibit their work. They want to re-imagine an eastern festival known from the past as a safe harbour for creativity and freedom of expression into a new space for building an international community, where young artists can meet, learn more in their areas of interest, and hear from high-profile international film professionals in their line of work. 

    The debut edition of RIFE, organized by the RIFE Foundation and the Goethe-Institut Sofia, will take place between 16 and 20 September 2021 in Smolyan and will focus on the creative partnership between Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and Germany, thanks to the participation of the Goethe-Instituts in Sofia, Thessaloniki and Istanbul, as well as the partnership with The National Academy for Theater and Film Arts (NATFA) “Krastyo Sarafov” and the renowned film university in Potsdam-Babelsberg "Konrad Wolf". 

    The festival is held under the patronage of the famous and beloved Bulgarian director, screenwriter and actor Georgi Stoev - Jackie, author of over 50 cult feature and documentary films, winner of numerous national and international film awards.

    The event includes two international film competition programs: International feature film documentary competition and International short and medium documentary film competition, under the key slogan “When Love is a Social Problem”. Submissions are free and opened till the end of July 2021 on the website of the festival - http://rife.bg/film-submission/

    The audience will determine The Audience Award by voting, and an international professional jury, composed of Jan Bose, Svetoslav Draganov and Diana Ivanova, will award the prizes for Best Film in the two competition sections. 

    The Jury 

    Jan Bosse 

    Jan Bosse is a documentary filmmaker from Germany and a graduate from the Munich school for television and film (HFF). His short films have been shown at many festivals in Germany and abroad. His film “Himmelreich” was nominated for the German Short Film Award. In recent years, he worked as filmmaker and workshop host for the Goethe-institute in the Gulf Region, Tunisia and the Czech Republic. Currently he is working on a new documentary film in Bulgaria and Germany. (more information: www.bossefilm.de) 

    Svetoslav Draganov 

    Svetoslav Draganov (born 1976) is a prominent Bulgarian filmmaker.His filmography includes: “Life is wonderful, isn’t it?” (MDR award at Leipzig Dokfilm festival 2001); “The Merry Boys” (IDFA selection 2003); “Young at Heart” (Prix Europa Award 2003); “Amateurs” (Golden Rhyton Award for the best Bulgarian documentary 2005); “Life almost wonderful” (IDFA selection 2013; special mention awards at ZagrebDox 2014 and Sofia Film Fest 2014). His first feature fiction film “Humble” is currently in post production. 

    Diana Ivanova 

    Diana Ivanova is a journalist, group therapist, documentary filmmaker and curator. She has graduated journalism in Sofia University and specialized in cultural management in Salzburg and group psychotherapy in Bonn. As a journalist she has received several international awards including the 2005 European Award for Journalism “Writing for Central and Eastern Europe'' (APA).

    For her documentary film “LISTEN” (2014) she has received the GOLDEN RYTHON for best documentary debut. Between 2003-2019 she was co-curator of the international festival of memories GOAT MILK in the village of Bela Rechka (Bulgaria), an interdisciplinary meeting of artists, filmmakers, cultural workers and local people, where the themes of individual and collective memory and trauma played a major role. (more information: www.divanova.org)

    A special guest speaker at the first edition of RIFE is Andres Veiel. The festival will feature a workshop by the prominent German documentary filmmaker and will bring together students from Bulgaria, Germany, Turkey and Greece. Additionally, his lecture will be broadcast live on the festival's Facebook page. 

    Andres Veiel was born in Stuttgart in 1959 and began studying psychology in what was then West Berlin in 1982. After graduation, he trained as a director and dramaturg at the international cultural centre Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. Since 1988 he has been writing screenplays and making films, as well as penning plays and directing theatre productions. Today Veiel is an acclaimed director of documentaries and one of Germany’s most successful contemporary filmmakers. He’s best known for his feature length production Black Box BRD (aka Black Box Germany), named Best Documentary at the European Film Awards and the German Film Awards. Veiel’s documentary Addicted to Acting won the Panorama Audience Award at Berlin International Film Festival and the German Film Critics Award. 

    Location of the Festival 

    Choosing the old location of the festival, the picturesque small town of Smolyan in one of the most mystical places on the Balkans, Rhodope Mountain, brings a special atmosphere to the event. And also a fresh breath of air for the locals into the cultural life of this mainly touristic place. Part of RIFE’s mission is to enrich the cultural life of Smolyan and to involve the locals in the problematic of contemporary documentary cinema. The festival screenings will take place outdoors with free entrance for everyone. The movies from the program will also be available for viewing online for a limited period after the festival, and a special selection will be shown in Thessaloniki and Istanbul.

    Supporting the festival 

    Launching a festival in a hopefully post-pandemic world is a challenging task even for a group of high-hearted film professionals. 2021 is a tough year for many industries globally, and especially for the cultural sector. That is why RIFE is looking for support for the final phase in the organization of the festival through the indiegogo campaign - https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rhodope-international-documentary-film-festival#/


    Locations of the festival in Smolyan - combining the old locations of the festival with open-air events