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Alexander Mihalkovich, Hanna Badziaka

Sweden, Ukraine, Norway - 2023 - 92’ - CPH:DOX 2023

A film from Belarus "situated" between two extremes - from rave parties in  post-Soviet darkness to the reflection of neo-nationalism in a society where corruption and a brutal war-honouring culture divide the young generation. When Nikita begins his mandatory military service in 2020, he is confronted head-on with the deeply guarded secret of a deadly tradition that has existed for decades in post-Soviet Belarus: "dedovshtina," or the practice of violence and harassment that allegedly turns boys into men, but instead creates deep traumas for generations that have shaped the country's present day culture and identity. Through their personal and professional perspectives, filmmakers Aleksandar Mihalkovich and Hanna Badziaka put contemporary Belarus under their lens and explore the state's instruments of fear-mongering.

18.09, 19:00, LARGO

23.09, 15.00, CINEMA HOUSE

Free admission with invitations or reservations made in advance for the opening screening. The event is organised in partnership with the European Parliament.

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Sam Soko, Lauren De Filippo

Kenya, United States - 2022 - 75’ - IDFA 2022, CPH:DOX 2023

A poor village in Kenya has been selected by an American NGO to take part in the world’s largest experiment in universal basic income. For 12 years, villagers receive a monthly wage of about 20 dollars without having to work for it. “Free Money” dives into questions such as what does this mean for poverty in the area, or for the villagers’ dreams for the future, their relationship with their neighbours who still live in deep poverty. The questions are big and potentially revolutionary, because the citizen’s wage is a political dream and a hot topic concerning universal labour that is here to stay. 

24.09, 18:00, ODEON CINEMA

Pongo Calling

Tomáš Kratochvíl

Czech Republic, Slovakia, UK - 2023 - 78’ - Sheffield DocFest 2022

Pongo is the name of a person who moved from the Czech Republic to Great Britain to start a new life. He is constantly working and led by his example, so are his children. Yet, Pongo keeps on pondering upon the question: “Why couldn’t we achieve all this back home, in the Czech Republic?” That’s how he starts a wave of Roma-related activist events in the Czech Republic and his son, Marek Pongo, continues his father’s efforts. 

Marek will be present at the discussion in an attempt to address the questions raised in the film, together with Deyan Kolev, representative on behalf of Amalipe Center for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance.

The Dialogues are organised by the Embassy of the Czech Republic and the Czech Center in Sofia,  in cooperation with the Vaclav Havel Library in Prague.

24.09, 15:00 - 18:00, CZECH CENTER

Free entry


When Spring Came to Bucha

Mila Teshaieva, Marcus Lenz

Ukraine, Germany - 2022 - 66’ - IDFA 2022, CPH:DOX 2023, Visions du Réel 2023

The citizens of Bucha share their stories as they clear the streets of debris and rebuild their destroyed homes. The film documents what is happening in Bucha real time – local people coming out of their shelters, focusing on the resilience of the Ukrainian spirit rather than the atrocities of the war. Yuri, head of municipal services, is trying to provide clean drinking water for the people of Bucha. Olenka is the only pupil in the classroom after two of her classmates were killed and the rest fled the country. Yet, amidst the suffering, a young couple is getting married, and life must go on. This heart-wrenching and compelling documentary tells stories of loss, hope and resistance against the backdrop of spring flowers blooming in Bucha. 

The screening of the film is organised in partnership with the European Parliament in Bulgaria. Free admission.

20.09, 19:00, CZECH CENTER

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Freedom on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Evgeny Afineevsky

Ukraine - 2022 - 116’ - Venice IFF 2022, Toronto FF 2022

The film describes the terrible reality of the fratricidal war started by Vladimir Putin. This is a story of the courage of the Ukrainian people – the demonstrators show an amazing ability to unite as a nation and defend the sovereignty of their country, showing compassion and resilience even when surrounded by death, destruction and unfathomable war crimes. The personal stories of citizens, children, soldiers, doctors, the elderly, journalists, religious leaders and foreign volunteers write this diary of humanity for the millions of people whose lives have been turned upside down by the eight-year conflict.

The screening of the film is organised in partnership with the European Parliament in Bulgaria. Free admission.

21.09, 18:30, CZECH CENTER

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Look What You Made Me Do

Coco Schrijber

The Netherlands - 2022 - 84’ - IDFA 2022

"When I told my mother that a boy was hitting me on the playground, she said, “It's because he likes you.”" This is how this account of murders committed by women begins. The film follows three women who have survived abusive relationships – and become murderers themselves as a result. One speaks eloquently, the other hesitantly, but all the three of them are painfully frank. The film's unique visual language combines metaphor with stark realism. Multi-layered narratives about the relationship between love and hate – feelings that are repressed or burst to the brim – are presented emotionally and richly with the help of documentary reenactment, interviews and archival materials.

19.09, 18:00, ODEON CINEMA

22.09, 18:00, CZECH CENTER

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Seven Winters in Tehran

Steffi Niederzoll

Germany, France - 2023 - 96’ - Berlinale 2023, CPH:DOX 2023

19-year-old student Reyhaneh Jabari has been sentenced to death by the Iranian regime for killing the man who tried to rape her. This is an important and moving film narrated by Cannes award-winning actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi. Through a personal archive, testimonies and letters from prison, the film tells the story over several years of the trial and fate of a girl who became a symbol of the resistance and struggle of women in Iran – a resistance that rages again today. 

The event is supported by German Films.

22.09, 17:00, CINEMA HOUSE

24.09, 20:30, ODEON CINEMA

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Smoke Sauna Sisterhood

Anna Hints

Estonia, France, Iceland - 2023 - 89’ - Sundance 2023, CPH:DOX 2023

In a traditional Estonian sauna in the middle of the forest, a group of women meet and share their innermost stories. As the camera sensually frames the naked women's bodies in beautiful and intimate close-ups, it is as if the pores of their skin tell stories of lust and shame, of violence and happiness, mixed with purifying laughter and moments of strong emotional connection between them. The only "rest" for the eyes comes when the women exit the sauna to slip into a refreshing pool of water, the size of which is determined by the season and the nature they are surrounded by. “Smoke Sauna Sisterhood” is a compelling and unforgettable experience that captures the power of sharing and the sens of belonging to a community.

19.09, 20:00, LARGO

20.09, 20:30, ODEON CINEMA

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Queen of the Deuce

Valerie Kontakos

Greece - 2022 - 53’ - DOC NYC 2022

From the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, in the infamous area of Times Square known as the Deuce, eccentric Greek-Jewish immigrant Chellie Wilson built a porn film empire and a reputation as one of the most iconic and charismatic figures of her time. Her tumultuous life story, filled with family secrets, struggles for survival and breaking societal norms, is told in this compelling film by her heirs and friends, as well as in her own voice, accompanied by animations, recreating her unparalleled charisma. 

20.09, 20:00, LARGO

22.09, 20:30, ODEON CINEMA

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Body Parts

Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

USA - 2022 - 86’ - Tribeca FF 2022, CPH:DOX 2023

Nudity and intimacy scenes in films have shaped how the female body and intimacy are perceived in the real world of today. More films and series are being made than ever before, and “Body Parts” reminds us why it is important to know how they are made. Nudity and sex scenes can follow actors throughout their lives, or even end up losing ownership of their own bodies in the process. With powerful contributions from Jane Fonda, Rosanna Arquette and many more, “Body Parts” captures an extraordinary moment of change for the film industry and celebrates the women who are boldly leading the way.

25.09, 20:30, CINEMA HOUSE

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La Singla

Paloma Zapata

Spain, Germany - 2023 - 95’ - Hot Docs 2023

Antonia Singla was born in the suburbs of Barcelona and became deaf shortly after she was born. However, she learned to dance flamenco without hearing the music. At the age of 17, she made a revolution in the world of flamenco, but before she turned 30, she disappeared from the scene forever. Fifty years later, a young woman finds old archives and is captivated by them. La Singla seems to hide something tragic behind her gaze, conveying a passion that transcends physical dance. The dancer was painted by Salvador Dali, starred in an Oscar-nominated film, and then disappeared. Director Paloma Zapata follows the footsteps of La Singla to discover the secret of her dance style and her mysterious disappearance.

The screening of the film is supported by Instituto Cervantes and the Embassy of Spain in Bulgaria

19.09, 18:30, CINEMA HOUSE

21.09, 18:00, ODEON CINEMA

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Theo Montoya

Colombia, France - 2022 - 74’ - IDFA 2022, CPH:DOX 2023

Anhell69 is the Instagram name of one of the dead friends of young director Theo Montoya. A few years ago, Montoya gathered his friends from the provocative queer society in Medellín for a casting. Montoya sees Medellin as a ghost town lost in the mountains, a place where the horizon is invisible and there is no way out. After attending more funerals than birthdays among his circle of friends, Montoya sunk into a beautiful existential void. Yet, he picked up the camera again and made a film without borders or gender: a "trans film" for all those people who belong to nothing or no one.

22.09, 20:00, LARGO

23.09, 18:15, ODEON CINEMA

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Agniia Galdanova

USA, France - 2023 - 98’ - SXSW 2022, CPH:DOX 2023

The world is a giant catwalk for fearless 21-year-old queer artist Gena who grew up in the far reaches of Russia, in a town built on the former Gulag camp. Organising her radical performances in supermarkets, metro stations and in the middle of the streets of Moscow, Gena has actively protested the way LGBTQ+ people are treated in the ultra-conservative Putin’s Russia. With the constant support of her grandmother, she gives expression to all the creatures that live inside her through her spectacular costumes that she creates from tape and junk. The film is a kind of cinematic continuation of Gena's inner world, situated between art and activism, documentary and science fiction, between old and young Russia.

23.09, 20:00, LARGO

25.09, 18:00, CINEMA HOUSE

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Fanny Mollins

France - 2022 - 77’

In “Bar Atlantic”, the owner Nathalie is at the center of the story. Here people sing, dance and hug each other. When their bar is threatened by the insatiable greed of gentrification, Nathalie and Jean-Jacques risk losing the place and their regular customers, the last shelter where they could find empathy and a sense of solidarity, where they could take care of their souls and bodies, worn out by work and life's problems. After the bar is put up for sale, Nathalie and the regulars face the end of their world and the loss of the place that, while toxic at times, is actually desperately needed by all of them.

23.09, 19:00, FRENCH INSTITUTE

The event takes place in partnership with the French Institute in Sofia.

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Paying a Visit to Fortuna

Matyas Kalman

Hungary, Croatia - 2022 - 74’ - Sarajevo IFF 2022

Aniko and Lachie live in deep poverty in a small town in Hungary until they win the lottery in 2013 when their dreams of luxury become reality. For Aniko, who suffers from panic disorder and has hardly ever left her apartment for 25 years, the jackpot provides a newfound sense of strength and purpose, while Lachie just wants to enjoy the luxury of not working and travelling the world. But as they adjust to their new lives, their relationship becomes strained. 

The film has been part of the BDC Discoveries programme. The screening is supported by the Hungarian Cultural Institute and the Embassy of Hungary in Bulgaria.

19.09, 19:00, CZECH CENTER

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A Provincial Hospital

Ilian Metev, Ivan Chertov, Zlatina Teneva

Bulgaria, Germany - 2022 - 110’ - Karlovy Vary 2022

For nearly 70 days, the filmmakers selflessly document daily life in the infectious Covid unit of the Kyustendil hospital at the height of the pandemiц. Аt some point they turn into medical assistants themselves (and sometimes psychotherapists) due to staff shortages. Through them we witness the life dramas of the participants, the quiet heroism of the medical personnel, but also a paradoxical bright humour that creeps in despite the fatigue, sadness, incessant problems, the dysfunctional health system and the absurdities of existence. 

23.09, 19:00, Ж JAZZ ROOM

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My Muslim Husband

Daniel Barnuti & Alexandra Lizeta Barnuti 

Romania - 2023 - 90’ - Transilvania IFF 2023, Sarajevo IFF 2023

Daniel, a young man who converted to Islam in his early 20s, marries Alexandra, a free-spirited young woman from Cluj-Napoca, his hometown in Romania. Daniel expects Alexandra to accept his religion with open arms, and Alexandra trusts that Daniel will protect and support her mentally and financially. Shortly after their marriage, their peace is shattered by their incompatible beliefs. Trapped in a confusing world of discrimination, the young couple must find a way to fight for each other and their relationship.

The film has been part of the Docu Rough Cut Boutique programme. The screening is supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Embassy of Romania in Bulgaria.

24.09, 19:00, LARGO

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Between Revolutions

Vlad Petri

Romania, Croatia, Iran, Qatar - 2023 - 71’ - Berlinale 2023, CPH:DOX 2023

A bittersweet intimate memoir of two young friends from the 1970s, told through their letters exchanged between Bucharest and Tehran, when the regimes of both countries collapsed almost at the same time. Zahra and Maria formed a close bond while studying medicine together at the University of Bucharest. But when Iranian Zahra felt the winds of change from her homeland, she dropped out of university and returned to Tehran, full of revolutionary aspirations back then."Between Two Revolutions" is a film about people's struggle for a brighter future and (in)valuable friendship – created entirely from archival footage and with a mesmerising soundtrack.

The event is supported by the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Embassy of Romania in Bulgaria.

20.09, 19:00, CINEMA HOUSE

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Pavle Terzic

Serbia - 2023 - 105’ - Beldocs 2023

From Detroit, through Chicago, all the way to Manchester, Berlin or Belgrade, whether it belongs to the club (underground) scene or big raves, electronic sound is becoming a kind of new musical religion. This kind of thesis takes on particular importance given the extremely specific political, sociological and cultural circumstances that left an imprint on the Balkans, or more specifically Serbia, during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The film captures the juxtaposition of these two realities and tells the story that marked generations from an alternative club perspective.

After the screening of the film, the audience will be able to participate in a special discussion in a live podcast format with the director Pavle Terzic and the creator of the ‘Bulgarian Rave Archive’ Vladislav Iliev (better known as Vladzen), moderated by Alexander Vladimirov, the creator of Fonoteka Elektrika.

23.09, 18:00, DOM

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Little Richard

Lisa Cortes

USA - 2023 - 98’ - Sundance 2023, CPH:DOX 2023

Richard Wayne Penniman, better known as Little Richard, spent his life wandering between religion, sex and rock and roll. This wealth of archival material brings to life his revolutionary figure who reinvented pop music as the ultimate form of self-expression. Lisa Cortez recreates the complicated life journey of the rock 'n' roll icon, reminding us that outsiders in society can have superpowers that, if given the chance, can unlock new worlds where everyone can sing and dance.

21.09, 18:30, CINEMA HOUSE

23.09, 16:30, ODEON CINEMA

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Glamorous stories from a peninsula with a dark past, narrated by the masters of unpretentious wit Elena Sergova & Kamelia Noeva, based on a serious dive into the archives of the recent past. The Grand Balkan Podcast surprises with unexpected and in-depth storytelling about personalities and events from the Balkans, but presented with a dose of humour and a sense of overwhelming lightness. 

Elena and Kamelia will launch the new season of their serial author podcast for the first time in a live format, where the Sofia DocuMental audience will be able to immerse themselves in their first-person narratives, as well as engage with questions afterwards.

*The event will be held in Bulgarian.*

21.09, 20:00, LARGO

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Alexander Abaturov

France, Switzerland - 2022 - 88’ - IDFA 2022, CPH:DOX 2023

A ferocious heat wave is setting fire to sub-Arctic forests in southeastern Siberia, and a small village lies shrouded in orange smoke and black ash, while authorities do nothing. The forest is engulfed in flames, which quickly spread to the village, where no one is waiting for help from the local authorities – they have no obligation to fight the forest fires in the isolated area, since the costs of extinguishing them would exceed the value of the calculated damage. Left on their own, the villagers unite with the mission to quell the inferno they call "The Dragon". Sparks are blown by the wind, flames spread and the camera follows the men as they enter the bright red forest against the backdrop of a mystical folk tale about the wind blowing over the sacred mountain. “Paradise” is a film of spectacular cinematic calibre about the rapidly changing climate and its consequences, which are inevitably getting closer to us and becoming more urgent than ever.

24.09, 18:00, CINEMA HOUSE

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