Stefan Kitanov

Bulgaria

Stefan Kitanov is best known on the international circuit as director of the Sofia Film Festival and founder of the Festival Band — a blues group that has entertained festivalgoers at Sarajevo, Sofia, Karlovy Vary and elsewhere.

But he is also a producer and a distributor in Bulgaria of “European films by established filmmakers or new talents,” says Kitanov, who is responsible for releasing films by the likes of auteurs such as Francois Ozon and Fatih Akin (“The Edge of Heaven”).

He takes a catholic view toward film distribution — he see his roles as festival director and also as a producer as integral to the job. “In Bulgaria, Hollywood has conquered the market — it has something like a 90% share. We are oriented towards films that first could be promoted at the Sofia Film Festival and then released in theaters in Bulgaria, which means mostly arthouse films.”

That doesn’t mean he eschews local product, but is usually involved in the distribution of the films that he has produced.

Working in a small market that is dominated by Hollywood is challenging and involves “creating events to attract the audience,” Kitanov says. Such events include organizing the Sofia Meetings — marketing and promotion opportunities for local and regional cinema.

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