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An elegant bouquet of Bulgarian films presented at a festival in Rome

"We taught the Italian cinema goers to read subtitles", proudly says the founder of the festival Zhana Yakovleva

Blaga's Lessons by Stefan Komandarev
Photo: Bulgarian Cultural Instutute in Rome

Starting today until June 23, Rome will be conquered by Bulgarian cinema. For the 17th year in a row, one of the iconic places of the Italian capital - the House of Cinema (Casa del Cinema) in Villa Borghese is hosting the "Festival of Bulgarian Cinema". Organized by the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Rome and accompanying Bulgaria's path as part of the EU, this year the forum will present an "elegant bouquet" of the best feature and documentary films produced in the past year, the festival's creator, actress Zhana Yakovleva, tells us.


The beginning will be given tonight with a screening of the film "Dyada" by director Yana Titova, who will meet the audience personally and answer their questions. In the following days, the films "Blaga's Lessons" by Stefan Komandarev, the Bulgarian proposal for the "Oscar" award this year in the category of foreign language film, "Mother" by Zornitsa Sophia Popgancheva and the documentary films "Weimar Express" - a film debut for writer and screenwriter Milena Fuchedzhieva will be shown, as well as "Christo Forever" and "Chapa meets Fellini" by journalist Georgi Toshev.

Weimar Express

"Hristo Forever" is dedicated to actor Christo Zhivkov, who left this world a year ago at the age of 48, but left behind roles in world productions such as "The Passion of the Christ" by Mel Gibson and "The Profession of Arms" by Italian director Ermanno Olmi. The second short film tells about the meeting and friendship between the famous Bulgarian sculptor Georgi Chapkanov-Chapa and Italian director Federico Fellini. Chapa is the author of the only bust of the famous director, who gave his blessing for the sculpture to be shown to the public.

"All the films we have chosen this year are award-winning films. Films that have brought Bulgaria recognition not only in the country, but also abroad. We decided this year to be more elegant in the things we choose. There are many films and many opportunities for Bulgarian cinema to be shown and talked about. But this year it happens with the meetings with colleagues, with the films of Georgi Toshev about Christo Zhivkov, who is known here, as well as all over the world, but unfortunately is not among us anymore. But Hristo remains here with the memory of the roles he had, of the friendships he gave. We must not forget the film about Chapa, which will tell about the meeting between a great Bulgarian and a great Italian.”

Zhana Yakovleva

All films, as in previous editions of the festival in Rome, will be subtitled in Italian, Zhana says and adds with a smile:

"We taught the Italian viewer to read subtitles, as all the foreign films that come to Italy are dubbed. The Italians only know the voices of their artists, not the original voice. We taught them to read subtitles. Something, which is a huge success for the way a cinema is perceived. Italians discovered Bulgarian documentary cinema with great interest and admiration. My fear was that the audience would not have much interest in this genre, but it turned out to be the opposite. The animated films that we have shown have also been well accepted. There are general human things that excite everyone and the titles that we have selected this year are films that focus on general human problems."

Despite its 17-year-long history and very good relations with the Bulgarian state institutions, for the first time this year's edition of the cinema forum will be officially opened by Vice President of Bulgaria Iliana Iotova. Minister of Culture Nayden Todorov and the Ambassador of Bulgaria in Italy Todor Stoyanov will also be present in Villa Borghese.

Iliana Iotova, Nayden Todorov, and Todor Stoyanov

"I cannot hide that it is a huge honor and a huge obligation to continue in this way, to be true ambassadors and help Bulgarian culture reach every corner of Italy and the world. Because Bulgaria is a small country, which walks with dignity on the path that makes it significant in many things, but in my opinion, the most important of these things is culture."

Zhana Yakovleva knows this well from all the years in which she has been building the bridge between Bulgaria and Italy with numerous projects. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed and just days ago she was awarded the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Golden Medal of Honor for her contribution to culture. The former director of the Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Rome received his recognition personally from Bulgaria’s ambassador in Rome Todor Stoyanov, who highlighted her long-standing active policy in the way of affirming the positive image of the country abroad.

"I think that this award is not only important for me, it is important for all that has been happening in these years in Italy. Because each one of us did everything possible - not for ourselves, but for Bulgaria.”

Read also:

Publication in English: Al. Markov

Photos: Bulgarian Cultural Institute in Rome, National Film Center, Cultural Center "Magura", FB / IstitutoBulgaroDiCultura, BGNES, president.bg, Embassy of Bulgaria in Italy

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