Twelve Films Will Compete for the Domaine Boyar Award within the Balkan Competition of the 23rd Sofia Film Fest

Traditionally, the Balkan competition of the Sofia Film Fest involves some of the most successful movies produced in the region in the course of the previous year. Now, in 2019, it is our pleasure to share with our viewers a high-class Balkan cinema, presented by its authors. 

Starting as a project of Sofia Meetings, Her Job (2018) is the full-length debut of Greek director Nikos Labot. Leading character in this co-production between Greece, France and Serbia is 37-year-old illiterate housewife, who leads a modest life with her husband and children in Athens. In order to deal with their financial difficulties, she is forced to start work as a cleaner at a trade center. Despite her odd work environment, she wins more respect there then she enjoyed in her family – and rthis will change her idea of life. 

Her Job was inspired by the true story of a woman in Northern Greece, who rediscovered, through her job, her own personal qualities and independence. She impressed Nikos Labot enough for him to decide to relate her story in his first feature, which won the best actress award (Maricia Triantafilidou) in Thessaloniki, the best film award in the contest 1-2 program in Warsaw, as well as the FIPRESCI award and the award of the FIPRESCI youth jury, again in Warsaw. 

Winner of the grand prizes from the Warsaw and Trieste film festivals, The Delegation (2018) by Albanian Buyar Alimani is a co-production of Albania, France, Greece and Kosovo. The film is set in October 1990, when the communist regime in Albania was desperately trying to keep its power. Then an European delegation visited Albania, in order to check on how the government was introducing reforms – a basic requirement for the admission of Albania in OSCE. The delegation was led by a government official, sent on a mission to a remote prison, in order to bring an important dissident back to the capital city. 

Tolga Karacelik's second film, Butterflies (Turkey, 2018) is a bitter drama about alienation. Its main characters, two brothers and a sister, set off on a journey to each other and the village they were born in, to reunite their scattered family. The title refers to a fairy tail their mother used to tell them at bedtime when they were kids. The three of them have never met and know nothing about each other. They get together some 30 years later to attend their fathers funeral. 
The film will be screened in Sofia after winning some authoritative festival distinctions such as the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, 2018, awards in Adana, Ankara, Bucharest, Istanbul and Thessaloniki.  

The full-length debut of Serbian director Ognjen Glavonić, The Load, (Serbia/France/Croatia/Iran/Quatar, 2018), was premiered within the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes. The main character, Vlada, is a truck driver, commissioned to ship a mysterious cargo from Sofia to Belgrade. The action is set against the background of the NATO bombings in Serbia, in 1999. The film is “an impressive glimpse at the war crimes during the war in Kosovo and their consequence, while Croatian star Leon Luĉev is exceptional in the lead”, reads the review in Cineuropa. The film has 11 awards and 12 nominations in his portfolio, including the Fedeora prize gor best foreign language film in Haifa, 2018, the “Heart of Sarajevo” for best actor for Leon Luĉev and a Special Diploma from the Ljubljana film festival. 

In his third film, The Story of a Summer Lover, a co-production between Bulgaria and Romania, promising Romanian director Paul Negoescu recalls the link between Woody Allen's name and intelligent, romantic comedies and jazz. The Story of a Summer Lover was conceived as a tribute to to these classical movies and tells the story of a math professor in his 40's, who is in a free relationship, but despite this freedom, still wants to break with his girlfriend. Things change when she informs him that she is pregnant and they'll stop seeing each other, no matter if she actually delivers her child or not. 

The political satire by Macedonian director Vladimir Blazheski, Year of the Monkey, Northern Macedonia/Serbia/Slovenia/Kosovo, 2018) is an entertaining and curious story about the friendship, sort-of, between a lonesome chimpanzee and a caretaker in a zoo. Koko, the chimp, escapes to freedom by chance, and Kobe, one of the zoo managers, fired due to the economic crisis, is promised by the zoo director that he'd get his job back, if he manages to bring the fugitive ape back. The leads are entrusted to Igor Angelov, chimp Koko and and Croatian orchestra conductor Maria Kon. Producer of the Year of the Monkey, as well as of Blazheski's previous film, Punk's not Dead, is Darko Popov, who is also the drummer of the popular Macedonian rock band Superhiks. 

Cypriot director Tonia Mishiali's debut Pause, (Cyprus/Greece, 2018), was awarded by FIPRESCI with the best Greek Film award and the prize of the national television at the Thessaloniki festival '18, follows the story of a housewife at mid-age entrapped in a boring marriage with a husband she no longer loves. Very much like many others around her, she escapes from reality through her imagination, but when a young painter comes over hired to draw the building she lives in, her fantasies get mixed up with reality and the border line gets blurred. A pause in her life might present a new beginning... 

Insiders, (Turkey, 2018) by Hüseyin Karabey, awarded the prize of the jury and for best actress in supporting role in Adana, reveals the deceptive practices practices resorted to in a prison to make an inmate talk. Expecting his wife's visit, he comes face to face with her sister, and his unsatisfied desire provokes a serious ethical conflict and a surprising dramatic twist... 

Bosnia and Herzegovina's production entitled Good Day’s Work (2018) by director Martin Turk presents moral choices in real life through the story of an ordinary family of a jobless husband and a pregnant woman, whose son has trouble at school. The husband goes to a job interview, but along the way things get mess up, since everything in life comes at a costs – especially if toy follow your convictions and always upholds the truth…

Romanian director Joanna Urikaru's full-length debut, Lemonade, (Romania/Canada/Ger,any/Sweden, 2018) is a drama about the difficult choice of becoming an emigrant. The film was screened within the Panorama section of the 68th Berlinale, and later on was awarded the Heart of Sarajevo prize for best directing. Producer is the the Golden Palm winner from Cannes Cristian Mungiu. This film introduces the viewer to a 30-year-old single mother from Romania, who nurses senior citizens in the United States. Just before her temporary visa expires, she marries one of the people she takes care of, in order to secure the American Dream for herself and her little son… The film concentrates in a single day all the obstacles and difficulties this mother has to face. And while struggling to overcome authorities at various levels, the question of what price she would have to pay and whether it is worth paying it, in order to achieve her goal, becomes of utmost importance to her. 

Rasko Milkovic's The Witch Hunters (Serbia, North Macedonia, 2018) is the winner of the best film award from Rio de Janeiro, the award of the viewers of the children's section of the Toronto Film Festival, and was also well appreciated at Sundance and Goteborg. Witch Hunters refracts some serious problems through the prism of a child's eyes and offers a mature conversation about such pressing issues. This is the story of a boy suffering from a partial cerebral paralysis – his days consist of endless therapeutic exercises, and in his dreams he turns into a super-hero fighting the dark powers of an imagined world through his imagination. 

The latest film by Bugarian director Kiran Kolarov (Service Status: Ordely, The The Rebel of L), My Sister’s Silence, (2018) is the Bulgarian proposal in the Balkan Competition. The film tells the tragicomic story of the events in a family – father leaves ever hesitating mother and a collection of butterflies – “proof” of the countless female hearts he had conquered. Little son dreams of becoming a writer of erotic novels, and his sister refuses to communicate except via her computer... 
Deficiency of love among the people is perhaps the result of the fact that we refuse to understand the people around us and care much too much about our own existence”, shares the director.