The Bulgarian film industry makes progress, despite obstacles. SETimes correspondent Svetla Dimitrova reports from Sofia.
After a long stagnation, the Bulgarian film industry is back on track. In terms of output, it is well behind Bollywood and Hollywood, but the Bulgarian cinematographers received scores of awards at various international film festivals in the past few years -- showing they can compete with the best in the trade.
Some of the best motion pictures have helped restore public confidence in the industry.
"Mission London", a satirical comedy directed by Dimitar Mitovski, which won this year's Unbribable Award at the Motovun Film Festival in Croatia, and "Love.net", an innovative drama about online dating, are among the movies that raise hope in Bulgarian moviemaking.
Bojidar Manov, a film critic and journalist, who also heads the Cinema Studies Department at the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia, spoke with SETimes.
SETimes: The Bulgarian film industry seems to have picked up in recent years. Is that so?
Manov: The Bulgarian feature film industry has definitely been making progress in the last three to four years. That's evident from the series of prestigious awards from various international festivals. Another particularly important fact is that some of the best pictures helped restore the viewers' confidence, so they want to watch Bulgarian movies again.
SETimes: How many feature films are produced in Bulgaria annually, compared to three or four years ago?
Manov: The film industry act provides for the production of seven feature films annually, which is insufficient for even a small country like Bulgaria, but is more or less acceptable.
Unfortunately, there were serious financial difficulties in the past two years, as the industry did not get its state funding. As a result … no new films went into production [for more than a year], and the effect of this is already noticeable.
Twelve movies participated at the Golden Rose national film festival in Varna in October, but some eagerly-awaited pictures could not join the competition; they were not completed in time due to financial problems in 2010.
Producer Borislav Chouchkov and his brother, director Victor Chouchkov Jr, won the Best Debut award at the Raindance Film Festival in London in early October for their film "Tilt". The movie is among the foreign language movies hoping to get next year's Golden Globe and the US Academy Award.
SETimes: Does the film industry get enough state funding?
Chouchkov: We hope the culture ministry will observe the film industry act and implement its provisions through the NFC. The state does, and I believe it is obliged to support the culture sector, and not only the cinema, but music, theatre, literature, fine arts. There must be state funding, especially in a small country like this one.
SETimes: Aside from the financial difficulties, what are the challenges and problems that Bulgarian filmmakers and the industry still face?
Chouchkov: There are many difficulties, both creatively and financially. On the creative side, there aren't enough fresh ideas and there aren't many good script-writers. The financial problems are due to the effects of the global financial crisis.
Manov: There is always room for improvement in the professional components of every motion picture, all the more because the modern film language is developing very fast. It's not by chance I mention Love.net as an example, as it went a step ahead, by making a hybrid of a cinematic interface on screen. There are problems with a number of other films, solving them obviously requires talent and technical skill, and a new way of thinking.