Programme

Radiosilence Watch trailer

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Radiosilence

dir. Juliana Fanjul, 78 min., Switzerland, Mexico, 2019

OPENING SCREENING 10 December

(The film is in the programme thanks to the support by the Swiss embassy in Bulgaria)

Radio Silence in military terms is usually a command issued from above, as out of fear that a signal might be intercepted by an enemy. However, today it can be related to journalists being silenced by a common, issued from above. This is also the story of Carmen Aristegui, a Mexican journalist who fights fake news, corruption and the drug trade. When her show was taken down in 2015, she created an online channel and continued the fight with more than 18 million listeners. The film presents the difficult and dangerous path of investigative journalists, for whom being in opposition becomes a matter of survival.   

The film is part of the official selection of one of the most prestigious international documentary film festivals in the world - IDFA, Amsterdam.

Carmen Aristegui at IDFA: “Documentary is a very powerful way to change reality. Especially if we look at the documentaries like this one. They create consciousness, they shape the outlook of people, and they get to the point. They’re great tools for our society.”

About the director  

Juliana Fanjul is a Mexican director based in Switzerland. For her, Carmen’s voice is the one of truth, and through her, she is able to keep up with the events in Mexico. For Juliana, this is especially important when she is following the news surrounding the protest and violence in her home country in 2015. When Carmen was taken down from broadcasting, Juliana couldn’t believe this was possible in a democratic country. This brutal violation of the freedom of speech made her go to Mexico and film Carmen’s story, which is also the reality of many journalists who feel political pressure on a daily basis.

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The Trial ‘Oleg Sentsov’ Watch trailer

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The Trial ‘Oleg Sentsov’

dir. Askold Kurov, 75 min., 2017, Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia

(The film is part of the programme with the support of the Liaison Office of the European Parliament in Bulgaria)

In 2018 the Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov was awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Sentsov, however, was not there to receive it personally, as he was still in a Russian prison after he has been accused of terrorism. “The Trial” tells the story of his conviction and his fight against injustice, staying true to himself despite the horrifying circumstances. Askold Kurov has incredible access to Sentsov’s family, court, and phone calls which prove his innocence. During the shooting he also witnessed the international filmmakers’ community raising Sentsov’s support.

Premiered at the Berlinale.

About the director:

Асколд Куров познава Олег Сенцов лично отпреди той да бъде арестуван. Сенцов е известен режисьор, чиито филми обикалят международните кинофестивали. След анексирането на Крим от Русия Сенцов помага на украински военни и инициира различни мирни дейности срещу руската окупация. През май 2014 г. е арестуван по обвинение за тероризъм. Куров отива на първите изслушвания в Москва, за да го подкрепи. Тогава разбира, че единственото, което може да направи за него, е да заснеме документален филм за случващото се. 

Special evеnt: 11 December (Friday) discussion with the director Askold Kurov, director Javor Gardev and the director and acticist from Belarus - Andrey Kureichik

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Banksy, Most Wanted Watch trailer

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Banksy, Most Wanted

dir. Seamus Haley, Laurent Richard, Aurelia Rouvie, 82 min., France, 2020

Who is Banksy? And does it matter?

In the past few years many journalists have tried to unveil Banksy’s identity. Some have gone as far as to hire criminologists for the task. In an era defined by mass surveillance and an end to privacy, the mystery about Banksy’s identity seems like a remarkable achievement. The film follows the street artist’s work throughout the globe and reveals the different theories about who Banksy is. These extremely contradicting suggestions lead one to think how much art is connected to its creator and isn’t it enough to regard “art for art’s sake” especially when it comes to the most recognizable art as political activism.

About the directors:  

For Aurelia Banksy’s relatability comes from people’s inclination for fantasy and made-up worlds, which are extremely important right now. One of the artists interviewed in the film, James Strafon, says that “people love to feel that there is some kind of saviour just around the corner and there is hope”. Exactly this feeling is the driving force behind Rouvie and Haley’s film, to tell a story which is not so much about identity, but about the impact of art..

Special event: 15 December 2020 (Tuesday) 19:00 Online meeting with the directors

Watch online from 10 December, 2020

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MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. Watch trailer

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MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A.

dir. Steve Loveridge, 96 min., Sri Lanka, UK, USA, 2018

What’s your life going to look like if you are 11 years old, you come from Sri Lanka to London and you are a Tamil military activist’s daughter? You turn into a music icon, perform next to Madonna and use your voice to raise awareness about the social injustice you are witnessing. Or at least this is the story of M.I.A, MAYA or MATANGI - three names of one girl. With a lot of beat, determination and inspiration Steve Loveridge takes us on a journey through the life of the girl behind the songs “Bad Girls”, “Paper Planes” and “Borders”.

About the director   

The director says that as a gay boy he made films about revealing himself to his relatives, while Matangi as a young girl from a minority, with a dark face, was making music to cope with her reality - this made them become close, and realise what it is like to be different. Another thing that united them was their love of pop culture and the awareness of what it could achieve and give to people. When she was a teenager, Matangi was recording all performances of famous movie and music stars of Indian or Tamil origin - this inspired her and made her move forward. This is the biggest motivation behind the film, to validate pop culture and its important role in society in empowering young people.

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Bulgarian dream Watch trailer

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Bulgarian dream

dir. Srđan Šarenac, 52 min., Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina

"Bulgarian Dream" is a more unusual perspective on the differences between social systems and living standards between two countries of the European Union. The film follows the story of Petra Kahlenbach, a German woman who decides at the age of 65 that she wants a better quality of life, not anywhere but in Bulgaria. In Hamburg, her pension is 700 euros, she pays a rent of 500 for her apartment, and when we add the other expenses, she ends up with about 20 euros. In Bulgaria, however, she can afford rent, restaurants, cinema, theater. She quickly became friends with her neighbor Stanka. Bosnian director Srđan Šarenac breaks stereotypes between Western and Eastern Europe in a story with a very unusual point of view for the Balkan region.

About the director:

Srđan Šarenac is a producer, film director and screenwriter. He made the film "Selma" about the best ballad written by Goran Bregović, and in 2010 he co-produced and directed the feature documentary "Village without Women". The premiere of the film was in the official selection of IDFA-Amsterdam and the film has been shown at 75 other film festivals.

Special event: 16 December (Wednesday), 19:30 Online meeting with the director

Watch online from 10 December, 2020

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For Sama Watch trailer

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For Sama

dir. Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts, 100 min., United Kingdom, USA, Syria, 2019

“For Sama” is an epic journey of a mother during the Syrian war. Filmed as a letter to her daughter, Waad Al-Kateab is catching on camera some of the most important moments of her life in the course of five years: falling in love, getting married, giving birth to her daughter. All of this at the background of a raging armed conflict. The film is an unseen testimony of loss and impossible decisions, a painful reminder, that this journey is one of many in a conflict which is still going on today. “For Sama” is an intimate portrait, a revealing personal documentary and is one of the must-see documentaries in the last couple of years, a testimony on what it is to abandon the place for which you have sacrificed everything. 

Academy Award Nominee in 2019 for Best Documentary Feature, BAFTA winner, Winer of L'oeil d'or Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.   

About the directors:

In 2009, 18-year-old Al-Kateab moved to Aleppo to study economics. In 2011, after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, she started working as a journalist for Channel 4 News and decided to stay and document her life. Al-Kateab made the “Inside Aleppo” series (for which she won an Emmy and the Foreign Affairs Prize at the British Journalism Awards). During her work, she selected 300 hours of footage and she needed two years to edit it into a 95-minute film, together with fellow director Edward Watts. Eventually, the film became part of the Cannes Official Selection and was nominated for an Oscar.

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Sea of Shadows Watch trailer

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Sea of Shadows

dir. Richard Ladkani, 105 min., USA, Austria

The film is in the programme thanks to the Austrian Embassy in Bulgaria

"Sea of ​​Shadows" is an eco-thriller tracking the path from the black market of Chinese pharmaceuticals to the almost extinct rare species of whale in the Sea of ​​Cortes. The investigation leads the team to discover the Mexican crime cartels and corruption at every step. Austrian director and cameraman Richard Ladkani has experience in this type of investigation with his previous successful anti-poaching documentary, “The Ivory Game”. “Sea of ​​Shadows” is an extremely emotional film that takes you into two very different worlds: one immersed in the dark circles of criminal trafficking in Baja California, and another - in the sea depths where an emergency rescue mission is taking place. This National Geographic produced film reminds us once again that there is an urgent need for intervention if there’s any hope of saving our biodiversity and hence our planet.

The film was awarded with the Sundance World Cinema Documentary 

About the director:

In early 2015 Richard and his wife Anita Ladkani founded Malaika Pictures. The name is the Swahili word for "Angel" and also the middle name of their first-born daughter. Malaika Pictures produces films that shine a bright spotlight on the most pressing environmental and political issues of our time. The shooting of his previous film about Netflix, produced by Leonardo DiCaprio, changed things - China made the ivory trade illegal. This inspired his team, and Leonardo, who had just returned from Mexico, gave the idea for the next film - "Sea of ​​Shadows".

Special event: 13 December (Sunday), 16:00 Meeting with the producer and the director of the film, moderator Milena Filcheva, Marketing director, Balkans The Walt Disney Company

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Epicentro Watch trailer

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Epicentro

dir. Hubert Sauper, 108 min., Austria, France, 2020, Bulgarian and English subtitles

The film is part of the programme thanks to the support of the Austrian Embassy in Bulgaria

“Epicentro” is a documentary film by the acclaimed Austrian director Hubert Sauper, an Academy award nominee for “Darwin's Nightmare” and who is also behind the film “Kisangani Diary”. “Epicentro” is a portrait of post-colonial, “utopian” Cuba. The film is a poetic metaphor, playing with the role cinema had to play as one of the most impactful tools of propaganda in the country. Through cinema references, archive footage and the point of view of two contemporary Cuban teenage kids, Sauper demonstrates a century of intervention and myth-creating. 

From Oscar®-nominated director Hubert Sauper.

Epicentro was the winner of the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival.

About the director:

“Epicentro” is a film made by one of the best contemporary documentary filmmakers, Hubert Sauper, and with it he won the Grand Jury Prize in 2020 in Sundance. Like his previous worldwide successful films, this film returns to his topics of interest: criticism towards the slave trade and its consequences, the (neo)colonization, propaganda, and globalization. The film was shot in Cuba because it represents an epicenter in both geographical and historical sense: an epicenter of the slave trade, America's first colonial masters, and the world's first cosmopolitan city. At the same time, today this is one of the most curious places because of the specific culture of political engagement and geopolitical discussions of Havana residents.

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The Russian Opposition Watch trailer

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The Russian Opposition

dir. Alexander Rastorguev, 52 min., Germany, 2018, Bulgarian and English subtitles

Alexei Navalny is the charismatic and controversial face of the Russian opposition. His name became especially popular at the end of the summer, when on 20th August, during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow, he was poisoned and barely came to life. Inconvenient for the government, in the last few years Navalny has been an activist, blogger and politician, constantly exposing corruption scandals in power. “The Russian Opposition” is a film about the activist's entry into politics. The film follows Navalny and his team during his presidential campaign in 2017, offering the audience an exclusive look behind the scenes of contemporary Russian politics. The film is made by Alexander Rastorguev, who died tragically, along with two of his colleagues, in the Central African Republic working on a new film about the activities of Russian mercenaries.

Special event: 14 December (Monday), 18:30 Online meeting with the German producer Simone Baumann

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Marry Me, However Watch trailer

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Marry Me, However

dir. Mordechai Vardi, 63 min., Israel, 2020, Bulgarian and English subtitles

“Marry Ме, However” is a revealing and extremely honest film set in an Orthodox Jewish community, following young women and men who marry against their sexual orientation in order to comply with their religion’s beliefs and family expectations. The film takes however a multi-layered approach, which is not limited to the LGBTI+ human rights issue and places it in the context of society as a whole. Rabbi Mordechai Vardi goes through the way religion should change its perspective and stop denying LGBTQI+ right to be part of society. The film demonstrates also the disastrous consequences for partners who have been denied intimacy and love, led to believe that their spouses will be “fixed” after a psychologically twisted “conversion” procedure.

About the director:

Mordechai Vardi is the rabbi of Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim and a director, scriptwriter, and instructor at Ma’aleh school of Television, Film, & the Arts in Jerusalem. He says about himself that up until he turned 40 he was a “normal” rabbi, but then he was so drawn to cinema that he graduated from Tel Aviv’s film school. About the subject of his film, he admits it is definitely one of the most explosive topics in the world of religion. “There is a big clash between reality and what is written in the Bible”, he says, “nobody is talking about this issue, but people who marry against their sexual orientation get suicidal”. He believes that regarding this issue, Judaism should and is changing just like psychology and medicine. And he is one of those people who are changing conservative views from the inside.

Special event: 17 December (Thursday), 19:00 Online meeting with Lilia Dragoeva, Bilitis Foundation and Simeon Vassilev GLAS Foundation

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Overseas Watch trailer

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Overseas

dir. Sung-a Yoon, 90 min., Belgium, France, 2019, Bulgarian and English subtitles

In the Philippines there is a school for maids, where the undergone training is learning how not to cry when your employer is shouting at you for not cleaning the bathroom well or for not setting the table right. The characters in Sung-a Yoon’s film are part of 10 million Filipino maids who work abroad. Provoked by Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot’s texts on Filipino women migrant workers, the director depicts a new perspective on emigration and collective marginalisation of million women around the world, who take humiliating jobs led by “rule number one” - their motivation for sacrifice in order to help their families at home. 

About the director:

In 2012, Sung-a traveled to South Korea to find her father, which led to her documentary "Full of Missing Links". Overseas is her second feature film. Reading a book by Asuncion Fresnoza-Flot, a Filipino sociologist, she found out that the Philippine government has institutionalized this form of migration by sending women to work abroad with two-year contracts, in a completely legal way. This was the reason why Sung-a decided to make a film about this phenomenon and shed the light on this completely invisible profession, which is performed mainly by women.

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Exemplary Behaviour Watch trailer

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Exemplary Behaviour

Dir. Audrius Mickevičius, Nerius Milerus, 84 min., Lithuania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, 2019, Bulgarian and English sub

The big winner at the renowned international documentary film festival Dok Leipzig is an example of аn ethically strong and highly aesthetic visual experience. Shot in a poetic way filled with symbolism, the film was inspired by a tragic story - the murder of the director’s brother. One of the accused for this crime was freed ahead of schedule because of his “exemplary behaviour”. This was the reason why Audrius Mickevičius went to the biggest prison in Lithuania to see the people, who wanted to redeem themselves. What does “exemplary behavior” mean when you have a life sentence. This film takes us on an unexpected journey filled with empathy and genuine humanity. Like any good film, it asks more questions than it gives answers - about forgiveness, repentance, redemption, and the treatment of people convicted of serious crimes. Could a person change, and could this lead to a change in the public opinion?

About the director:

Some years ago the director loses his brother, who falls victim to a terrible murder. The guilty men do not receive the punishment the family thinks they deserve. In fact, one of them is released earlier from prison due to his 'exemplary behaviour'. At first, Audrius goes to the Lithuanian prison seeking for answers how come there is such a thing as 'exemplary behaviour' when it comes to people who have committed such heavy crimes. Eventually, his film becomes part of a campaign for shedding the light on the issues connected to crime, humanity and relationship inside and outside prison. During the shooting, the director falls ill and passes away. Suffering an enormous shock his colleague and co-director finished the film (and what has turned into a life mission) for him.

Text by Kremena Dimitrova (Artakcia, full article here)

Special event: 12 December (Saturday), 18:00 Meeting with the Bulgarian crew of the film and special guest, father Nikolay Georgiev, staurophore janitor and chaplain of the prison chapels in Bulgaria.

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Doctor, I’m Going to My Grave Watch trailer

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Doctor, I’m Going to My Grave

dir. Nikolina Barić, 41 min., Croatia, 2020, Bulgarian and English subtitles

“Doctor, I am Going to My Grave” is а middle-length documentary, filmed by the director, where she follows her mother's small General Practice and her struggle in the failing Croatian health system. One after another, patients come in with severe and not that severe conditions (“Doctor, I’ve brought you some sweets...”). The doctor’s cabinet is small and technical shooting constraints only contribute to the feeling of honesty and intimacy. With dark humour and a healthy dose of self-irony (so typical for the Balkan region) the film portrays a situation very similar to the one Bulgaria - where there is a steady increase in the number of patients and available doctors are in steady decline, everybody reaching their breaking point.

About the director:

Nikolina Baric is a Croatian director. The idea of this film came from her friends who were impressed by her mother’s strength of character. Initially she planned to make the film as her mother has been set to retire. Nikolina had in mind to film her partings with patients who became her friends, and to whom she was more than a doctor. However, this never happened. Every year Nikolina’s mom delayed her retiring. This film is the result of three and a half years of making from the start of filming to the end of post-production, and her mother is still working.

Special event: 14 December (Monday), 19:00 Online meeting with the director

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Female Pleasure Watch trailer

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Female Pleasure

dir. Barbara Miller, 101 min., Germany, Switzerland, 2018, Bulgarian and English subtitles

The film is in the programme with the support of the Swiss Embassy

“Female Pleasure” portrays five courageous, smart and self-determined women, breaking the silence imposed by their archaic-patriarch societies and religious communities. Deborah Feldman, Leyla Hussein, Rokudenashiko, Doris Wagner and Vithika Yadav talk about the objectivization of the female body and its exploration by different cultures. Their courage however comes at a high price: they all have experienced public defamation, threats and prosecutions by power and religious groups. These five women fight for women’s autonomy and sexual liberation all over the world. They decided to speak up in order to break the humiliating and subordinating religious and cultural role model rules assigned to women. 

The film is part of the official festival selections at IDFA, Dok Leipzig, Semaine de la Critique - Cannes, Locarno Film Festival. 

About the director:

Първоначалната идея на Милър е да направи филм за жени от Miller's original idea was to make a film about women of different religions. During the process of making the film, Miller realized that she needed to dig deeper into the role of religion in women’s lives. She read different sacred books and saw a clear pattern in those texts which demonized the female body, presenting women as sinners who have come to this world through sin because of their sexuality. Miller believes she should not be asked about her film being antireligious, but about looking at religion through a system or institution that could be misused and oppress women around the world.

Special event: 12 December (Saturday) 16:00 Online discussion with with Svetla Baeva and Raya Raeva, authors of an illustrated book on sexual health for girls.

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RBG Watch trailer

RBG

dir. Betsy West and Julie Cohen, 99 min., USA, 2018, Bulgarian and English subtitles

One of the most inspiring titles in the program that will close the festival is a film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg or known as RBG. 

RBG proves that one person can achieve a great deal for a huge number of people. And by many, we mean a brilliant legal career that fights for women's rights and the elimination of racial discrimination. The film follows the life of Ginsburg - her student years in Harvard, failed job interviews, starting a family, fighting cancer, and winning five landmark Supreme Court cases in the 1970s that removed a number of laws that treat men and women differently based on archaic gender stereotypes. With her firm stance and open disagreement with discriminatory legislative decisions, Chief Justice Ruth Ginsburg has unexpectedly become a pop culture icon, inspiring a generation of vigilant young people. Ruth Ginsburg died in September this year, and with the screening on 15th December, we want to pay tribute to her memory by presenting her exceptional life and achievements.

RBG was nominated for Documentary Feature for Oscars 2019.

 About the directors:

After leaving hеr job in a news channel, West developed the documentary series about women who shaped modern America. One of the people she interviewed was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg. Seeing how Ginsburg has become the hero of a new generation of politically active young women, Cohen and West decided to make a documentary about the rise of a Brooklyn girl who graduated from Harvard, has been denied a job at twelve law firms, yet finally became one of the most influential voices for justice worldwide.

Special event: 18 December (Friday), 18:00 Exclusive unique screening followed by a special guest - the directors of the film and Zdravka Kalaidzhieva, lawyer and former judge at the European Court of Human Rights, moderated by Velislava Popova, DNEVNIK Editor-in-Chief

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