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Justice for Bulgarian Cinema - ARE WE STILL IN THE 80s?

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Bulgarian Rhapsody selected as Oscar candidate

byStefan Dobroiu

05/09/2014 - Young Bulgarian directors protest against the National Cinema Council's decision

The National Cinema Council, an expert advisory body under the jurisdiction of the Bulgarian National Film Center, has decided that Ivan Nichev's Bulgarian Rhapsody will represent the country at next year's Oscars. Yet to be released in Bulgaria, Nichev's World War II drama opened a local film festival in June.

The decision was met with astonishment by the local film industry, as Maya Vitkova's Viktoria[+] and Milko Lazarov's Alienation[+] were thought to be the main favourites for the selection. Viktoria was the first Bulgarian film ever to be selected at Sundance and has been shown at dozens of international film festivals since February. Alienation had its world premiere in the Venice Days sidebar of the Venice Film Festival in 2013, where it won the Best Director of a Debut Film Award and the Europa Cinemas Label – Special Mention.

Several Bulgarian directors are determined to protest against the committee's decision. An event was created on Facebook, asking for justice for Bulgarian cinema, and official letters and petitions will be sent to the local National Film Center and Ministry of Culture.

The directors' anger seems justified, as Nichev is actually a member of the National Cinema Council. He seems to be a favourite of the committee, as his previous directorial efforts, After the End of the World and Journey to Jerusalem, the first two films in a trilogy that comes to a close with Bulgarian Rhapsody, were past Oscar candidates.

The protesting directors are questioning not only the committee's decision, which gave Bulgarian Rhapsody 23 points, as against 12 for Viktoria and seven for Alienation, but also its members' objectivity and efficiency in promoting Bulgarian cinema abroad. The 12 members of the committee are Ivan Nichev, Andrey Chertoff, Hristo Hristov, Vladimir Andreev, Galina Toneva, Victor Chuchkov, Ilia Kostov, Ivan Georgiev, Anna Petkova, Vladimir Asenov, Ivan Pavlov and Diana Andreeva.

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