Hello from Sofia, Bulgaria. I’m here for the 4th Annual Golden Kuker International Animation Festival. More about the festival, shortly.
Right now I want to tell you a bit about Bulgaria and its capital, Sofia. Bulgaria is a member of the European Union. It’s located in the Mediterranean Region of Europe. It has beaches on the Black Sea and is a neighbor to Romania, Turkey, Greece and Serbia.
Sofia is a great, vibrant city, one of the oldest in Europe. The streets of Sofia lie on the remains of a 7,000 year old civilization and the city itself was founded over 2,500 years ago. Throughout the city are sites with active architectural digs taking place, uncovering the imprints of Roman emperors, Alexander the Great, Constantine the Great, and Macedonian Kings. Modern day Sofia has an active night life, vibrant cultural scene and dozens of important museums. Great food! All in all, it’s a terrific place to visit and would be reason enough to visit next year’s Golden Kuker festival.
The Golden Kuker International Animation Festival is held annually and this was their fourth edition. Following the formats of most international festivals, there are five parts to the event:
MASTERCLASSES…. A series of Masterclasses were held featuring the international talents of Rumen Petrov and Ricardo Braganca.
PANORAMAS…. Film programmes featuring the world of Polish animation presented by Anna Waszczuk of SE-MA-FOR studios. The Romanian Reanimation festival presented a program with the best of Romanian animation from ANIM’EST. I presented a program of the best Indian animation from 2012 on behalf of ASIFA India
RETROSPECTIVES…. Geoff Dunbar through INSIDE THE GREEN BOOK and a visual essay of the life and achievement of John Halas. Retrospective on the works of famed Armenian and Soviet Master of Animation, Robert Sahakyants. A retrospective of the work of Bulgarian illustrator, Dimitar Tomov and retro on the works of Bulgarian filmmaker Anton Trayanov.
GUEST LECTURES…including Eliza Ivanova, Anthony Christov and Rumen Petkov
FILM COMPETITION… From over 500 worldwide entries, 200 were shortlisted in the following categories: Student Films, Bulgarian National Films, Films 1-10 Min, Films 10-45 minutes, TV Series, Films for Kids and Music Videos.
The international panel of jurors included:
Chairman of the Jury, Bill Dennis-IACG/ASIFA India (India, USA)
Anthony Christov-Pixar (Bulgaria, USA)
Rene Beckman-Artist,Critic (Netherlands/Bulgaria)
Genovera Dimitrova (Film Critic and Editor from Bulgaria)
Ivan Bogdanov of FinFilm and filmmaker, also from Bulgaria.
The pre-selection committee included:
Alexander Flipov (Bulgarian Character Animator and lecturer)
TsenkaKoumdjieva (Bulgarian Artist and Animator)
Ivet Koyumdjieva (Bulgarian Artist and Animator)
Tunde Vollenbroek (KLIK Amsterdam Animation Festival- Holland)
Mihai Mitrica (ANIM-EST Film Festival - Romania)
Film competition followed international practices and standards. The films were outstanding with entries coming from all over the world. The largest concentration of films was, predictably, from Europe and in particular, Eastern Europe. But, the winners came from Russia, Italy, Israel, Latvia, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Belarus and Luxembourg. Here’s the list:
Grand Prix Golden Kuker SNOWFLAKE by Natalia Chernysheva from Russia
Best Animated Super Short Film SOFTLY FLOWS by Simone Massi from Italy
Best Animated Short Film up to 10 minutes INTERNATIONAL FATHER’S DAY by Edmunds Jansons from Latvia
Best Animated Short Film 10-45 minutes OH WILLY by Emma De Swaef, Andreas De Ridder, Alice Tambellini, Steven De Beul from Belgium, France, Netherlands and Luxembourg
Best Animated Student Film NYOSHA by Liran Kapel from Israel
Best Animated Children’s Film SNOWFLAKE by Natalia Chernysheva from Russia
Best Bulgarian National Animated Film LAST AUTUMN by Sofiya Ilieva, Georgi Merdzhanov, Emilian Gatsov and Stoyan Tenev
Special recognition awards were given to the following films:
KOLUMBUS by Sonja Rohleder from Germany
REFLECTION by Planktoon from France
CITY by Andrei Tokindang from Belarus
Hats off to festival director Nadezda (Nadya) Dimirtova Slavova (and her very able assistant, Yuliana) for putting together this great festival. Nadya is an animator and filmmaker who runs her own studio/advertising agency. She founded this festival to fill the gap in Bulgarian animation showcases created over 20 years ago by the failed animation festival in Varna, Bulgaria. She also is the Chairwoman of the Bulgarian Association of Independent Cartoon Animation Artists.
So, here’s my bottom line to the event: The festival is young and is still experiencing some growing pains as they continue to experiment with different venues and formats. But, they know how to organize, manage and publicize. They’re a group of dedicated professionals who have a great love and genuine respect for the art of animation and animation filmmakers.
I hope you’ll be able to support them in future editions of their festival. They deserve to prosper. Their plans are already underway for the 5th annual event in 2014.