For the fourth year in a row, the documentary film festival with a focus on human rights Sofia Documental presented a curated selection of the best among the newest documentaries to the Bulgarian audience. At the closing ceremony on September 24, under the domes of Sofia's Largo, the festival's international jury awarded the prize in the competition program for the best film by a female director, granted by the Bulgarian Fund for Women, to the film "Smoke Sauna Sisterhood", directed by Anna Hints from Estonia.

The co-production between Estonia, France and Iceland was awarded by the international jury for the consonance between cinematic style and content, which "show how intimacy can also be a political subject". Among the six titles that competed in the competition program, the jury members singled out another film. A special mention was given to "Seven Winters in Tehran" by director Steffi Niederzoll, who "despite danger and severe challenges stands behind those condemned to cruelty, silence and death" and supports the struggle of women in Iran.

The audience award at this year's edition of Sofia Documental went to the Greek-Canadian production "Queen of the Deuce" by Valerie Kontakos. The award for the best female director is in the form of a glass hammer made by the Bulgarian artist Svetlana Mircheva.

In partnership with Neterra TV+, part of the festival selection will be available online until October 8, so that the audience can experience Sofia Documental 2023 from their home, wherever they are in the country.

Through its "Balkan Documentary Market" platform, Sofia Documental is also a creative laboratory for documentaries. The Balkan Documentary Center supported the following projects, which took part in the prestigious program for the development of documentary projects "BDC Discoveries" and were presented within the laboratory:

Award for the best project, granted by the State Cultural Institute to the Minister of Foreign Affairs:

"Where I end and you begin"
Director: David Power
Producer: Raffaella Pontarelli

Special LightDox Award:

"I've never been on an airplane"
Director: Redon Kikai
Producer: Ivaylo Kidak, Dardan Hoti

Most Improved Pitch Award:

Director: Nikolay Urumov