The sixth edition of the International Book & Movie Festival CineLibri was held in Sofia and another seven Bulgarian cities between October 18th and November 8th 2020 under the motto “Sentimental Education” as a tribute to one of the most influential French writers of the XIX century – Gustave Flaubert. In addition to the Bulgarian capital Sofia, the film events took place in: Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas, Veliko Tarnovo, Gabrovo, Stara Zagora and Blagoevgrad. The spectators watched 45 feature films, traditionally divided into several sections.
Due to the complicated situation as a result of the incidence of the coronavirus disease all over the world, including Bulgaria, the festival was held both in the cinema halls and online. CineLibri 2020 adapted a significant part of its program for parallel broadcasting online through the platform Neterra TV +. The grand opening ceremony was on October 18 in Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia. It started with a spectacular musical performance to be followed by a premiere screening of the eccentric crime comedy The Godmother (Mama Weed) directed by Jean-Paul Salome, featuring the icon of French cinema Isabelle Huppert.
The competition program presented a powerful selection of 7 titles. The esteemed Jury this year consisted of: the Finnish film producer and director Mika Kaurismäki, the Argentine writer and screenwriter Santiago Amigorena, the Greek director Babis Makridis, the Bulgarian actress Snezhina Petrova and the acclaimed Bulgarian director Milko Lazarov. The legendary director Jean-Jacques Annaud was the honorable chairman of the Jury. World-renowned for his works and film challenges, Annaud is one of the few European directors with an international career of more than five decades. Most of his movie achievements were based on emblematic novels, including The Name of the Rose, The Lover, Wolf Totem.
Among the competition films were: the impatiently awaited movie interpretation of the popular play The Father (2020) directed by the playwright himself – Florian Zeller, featuring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman; Summer of 85 (2020) directed by the provocative French director François Ozon; the psychological family drama The Ties (2020) directed by Daniele Luchetti; the ambitious co-production Berlin Alexanderplatz (2020), a modern adaptation of one of the greatest twentieth-century novels, directed by Burhan Qurbani; the Hungarian drama Pilatus (2019) directed by Linda Dombrovszky.
The festival marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Jose Saramago with a premiere screening of the film The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis directed by João Botelho and based on the eponymous novel. An evening in memoriam of Jirí Menzel was held too, as he was not just a brilliant director and ingenious movie storyteller, but also a friend of Bulgaria and CineLibri in particular. The parallel film program offered versatile literary adaptations such as the film Pinocchio (2019) directed by Matteo Garrone, a live-action adaptation of the classic story of a wooden puppet; Here Are the Young Men (2020) directed by Eoin Macken and based on the novel of the same name by Rob Doyle; the captivating dramatic thriller The Last Vermeer (2019) set just after WWII, starring Claes Bang and Guy Pearce; the intriguing adaptation Narziss and Goldmund (2020) directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky and based on the splendid philosophical novel by Hermann Hesse.
CineLibri 2020 celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of the genius German composer Ludwig van Beethoven and the 80th anniversary of the birth of the eternal “Beatle” and dreamer John Lennon. In strict compliance with the governmental Covid-19 restrictions, several digital meetings were held with representatives of the film teams during the festival, including video connection with the young actor Benjamin Voisin who perform one of the leading roles in Summer of 85 directed by François Ozon, and video connection with György Somogyi, the screenwriter of Pilatus, based on the Magda Szabo’s novel.
This year’s CineLibri films were divided into several modules, united by the slogan “Sentimental Education”. The section of films competing for the Grand Prize for Literary Adaptation was entitled “If Everyone Thought the Same, There Would Be No Competition” The other modules were titled in view of the genre specifics of the films: “The Arguments of the Heart”, “The Dream of Reason”, “They Who Have No Sense of Humor, Have No Feelings at All”, “Music is a Transcript of Emotions”, “Wisdom Defeats Fate”. The section with documentaries was entitled “When the Facts Speak…”, and the Bulgarian adaptations were collected conditionally under the phrase “Mission: Bulgarian Cinema”. The festival also presented several “Short Temptations” – selected short films based on literary works.
Despite the complicated circumstances, the program contained a series of Gala Evenings, creative webinars and other events bringing together film experts, literary critics and diplomats who represented France, the United States, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Denmark, Portugal and Ireland. The events were supported by the embassies and cultural institutes of the respective countries.