SOFIA, Bulgaria — Jiri Menzel’s effervescent “I Served the King of England” ended the official program of the Sofia Film Festival on Saturday night.Awards were handed out immediately preceding the screening in the cavernous National Palace of Culture, where Srdjan Golubovic’s tense “The Trap” received the Grand Prix, sponsored by fest supporter Stella Artois.
Hands-down winner of both the Balkan film nod and Kodak’s prize for Bulgarian movie was distaff helmer Iglika Triffonova’s “Investigation,” a character-driven study of a woman cop trying to prove a murderer’s guilt, handled internationally by Berlin-based MDC.
“Four Minutes” drew director kudos for Chris Kraus and the Fipresci critics’ nod, while Dusan Milic’s lively “Gucha — Distant Trumpet” was the audience fave.
Fest director Stefan Kitanov programmed a mostly Euro-centric selection, including Andrea Arnold’s “Red Road” and Agnes Kocsis’ “Fresh Air”; choices from further afield included Al Gore docu “An Inconvenient Truth” and Kim Ki-duk’s “Time.” Wim Wenders was on hand to talk to audiences and bask in a career tribute; fest was also host to a Fellini retrospective, continuing into April.
Pitching workshops and presentations formed the backbone of the fourth edition of Sofia Meetings, which ran for three days through Saturday in conjunction with the festival under the directorship of Mira Staleva. An industry event for directors, producers and writers with second film projects, the meetings attracted sales agents, distribs and co-production shingles, including Unifrance, Germany’s MFG and the Netherlands’ Binger Film Lab. Thirteen projects received pushes, including new films by Kocsis, Ruxandra Zenide (“Ryna”) and scripter Razvan Radulescu (“The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”). Participants expressed general satisfaction, with many finding the relatively intimate profile business-friendly.
Additional screenings of some of the fest’s 134 features, docus and shorts will continue in the coming days not just in the capital but the event’s satellite locations of Plovdiv and Burgas.