The seventh edition of CineLibri International Book&Movie Festival (CineLibri IFF), which selects and shows the most impressive adaptations of literary works annually, was held between October 2-31 in Sofia and seven other Bulgarian cities under the motto “Divine Comedy” on the occasion of 700 years since the death of Dante Alighieri.
The grand opening ceremony took place on October 2nd in Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture in Sofia and was crowned with an enchanting dance performance. The spectacular ceremony was followed by a premiere screening of the provocative French-Dutch biographical story Benedetta. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, the film is adaptation of Judith C. Brown’s book “Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy”. Notwithstanding the health crisis, main and parallel program of CineLibri this year was extremely rich and attractive. It comprised 7 modules: the Seventh Heaven, the Seventh Art, the Seven Seas, the Seven Wonders, the Lyre of Apollo, the Pleiades, the Seven Dwarfs. Viewers had the opportunity to choose from 49 films and 37 special events – some of them have been realized live, others online.
Feature film competition program encompassed 7 titles. Among them was the intimate drama “Happening” – an adaptation of the memoir book by Annie Erno, revealing her traumatic experience in connection with an illegal abortion in the 60s. The film directed by Audrey Diwan won the FIPRESCI award and the Golden Lion 2021 at the Venice International Film Festival. This year the esteemed Jury was presented by: the famous French writer and screenwriter Caroline Bongrand, Afghan-born German director Burhan Qurbani, who was awarded the CineLibri prize for masterfully crafted adaptation for his film Berlin Alexanderplatz last year, the renowned Bulgarian directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov (“The Lesson”, “Glory”). The prominent French writer, screenwriter and actor Guillaume Laurant presided the Jury.
In addition to the members of the Jury, who personally announced the winners of this year’s award for best film adaptation of a literary work, several other amazing artists arrived in Sofia for “live” presentations of their films and books. The Israeli writer Eshkol Nevo presented his bestselling novel “Three Floors” and opened the premiere screening of the film directed by Nanni Moretti. The premiere screening of the mysterious Turkish drama “Reflection” took place in the presence of director İlker Savaşkurt and part of film’s cast, including the Bulgarian-German actress Simona Teoharova. Alberto San Juan, the Spanish theater and film actor and screenwriter who won the Gaudi and Goya Awards for his performance in Cesc Gay’s brilliant comedy “Sentimental”, also arrived in Sofia for the film’s official premiere at CineLibri.
Turning the disadvantage of pandemic into an advantage, CineLibri realized several video meetings and thus gave the widest possible range of viewers, including risk groups, the opportunity to get in touch with great creators such as the American writer Paul Auster and the director Alejandro Chomsky in respect with their film “In the Country of Last Things”. Oliver Stonе, the legendary director of Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July also presented online before the festival audience his striking memoir “Chasing the Light“ which now has a Bulgarian edition. The Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi (“On Body and Soul”), told the story of shooting her latest film “The Story of My Wife” – an adaptation of a Hungarian novel by Milán Füst, which is the magnum opus of his oeuvre.
Festival audience had the possibility to watch the Golden Lion nominee for best film “Lost Illusions”, a historical drama based on part of the epic series “Human Comedy” by French writer Honore de Balzac. Another important title was Maria Schrader’s beguiling fusion of modern romance and futurism “I’m Your Man”, awarded the Silver Bear at the Berlinale and chosen to represent Germany at the Oscars in 2022. The program also presented the latest film of Yimou Zhang – “One Second”, an elegiac love letter to the film industry, which was nominated for Golden Bear at Berlinale 2019. On the occasion of the 140th anniversary of the birth of the unsurpassed novelist Stefan Zweig CineLibri 2021 presented the new screen version of his famed “The Royal Game”, directed by Philipp Stölzl. The festival also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great science fiction author, satirist, humanist and philosopher Stanislaw Lem with the short films The Room and The Mask and the official presentation of the new Bulgarian editions of the cult novel Solaris and the book with interviews World on the Edge. Aside from that, the festival’s vulnerable audience could see online more than 20 literary adaptations by remarkable filmmakers, thanks to the festival’s collaboration with Neterra.TV+ platform.
Despite the complicated circumstances, the program contained a series of Gala Evenings bringing together film experts, literary critics and diplomats who represented Poland, France, USA, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Ireland. The events were supported by the embassies and cultural institutes of the respective countries. As part of the educational module, a free webinar on “Cinema production VS Commercial production in USA” was held with the American producers John Grossman and Andy Deliana. The event was organized jointly with the US Embassy in Sofia and was intended for students and professionals in the field of cinema and advertising. The discussion section “Psychoanalysis and Cinema”, which has become traditional for the festival, this year was focused on the film and book “Three Floors”.