COUNTRY REPORT 2016
The year 2016 was relatively stable until 14 November, when suddenly, after the defeat of his party’s nominee in the presidential elections, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov resigned. The event was followed by long administrative procedures that failed to lead to a stable government. Eventually, it became clear that the newly elected president, General Rumen Radev, should appoint a caretaker government in 2017.
On the other hand, 2016 was successful for some young Bulgarian film directors, whose presence at different international film festivals became more visible. Raliza Petrova’s debut feature Godless, a coproduction between Bulgaria’s Klas Film and Denmark’s Snow Globe, won the Golden Leopard at the 69th Locarno IFF and also the Golden Rose Award at the 34th National Golden Rose Film Festival.
Peter Valchanov’s and Kristina Grozeva’s second feature Glory (Abraxas Film) also competed at Locarno and became the most popular Bulgarian feature film on the international scene. Svetla Tsotsorkova’s Thirst (Front Film) was nominated for the European Discovery- Prix FIPRESCI while Lyubo Yonchev’s short film Shooting Star was nominated for the European Short Film award at the European Film Academy awards.
Throughout the year the Bulgarian National Film Center led a restrictive policy. The 23rd edition of the Golden Rhyton documentary and animated films National FF was cancelled, but not the whole festival.
Although numerous attempts have been made and various working groups have taken on the task of proposing a working scheme for future implementation of a tax incentive scheme, the process once again was not completed in 2016. Taking into account the country’s latest political crisis, it seems unlikely that a decision will be made in the near future.
Seventeen feature films were produced in 2016, of which fourteen were supported by the Bulgarian National Film Center. Nine of them were fully nationally financed, four were coproduced with other countries and four were privately financed. Bulgaria participated as a minor coproducer in six coproductions. The Bulgarian National Television did not coproduce any feature films.
Several domestic feature films were shot in 2016. After months of location scouting in Sofia, Stephan Komandarev wrapped his low budget urban drama Directions, coproduced by Bulgaria’s Argo Film, Germany’s Aktis Film Production and Macedonia’s Sektor Film.
Mostly known for his successful TV series, Victor Bojinov also shot his debut feature, the historical drama Heights, based on Milen Ruskov’s eponymous epic bestseller (coproduced by Bulgaria’s Bulfilm and Macedonia’s Dream Factory.
Writer/director Kiran Kolarov completed the shooting of his twelfth feature film Melodrama (Kolar) in Sofia and its surroundings.
Low budget debut features dedicated to younger audiences also wrapped shooting in 2016: Maria Veselinova’s Smart Christmas (Vetrogon-BG) and Stanislav Todorov – Rogi’s Bubblegum (DynamicArts).
By the end of 2016 the Bulgarian National Center stated that the country’s main non-feature-film national festival Golden Rhyton was going to be cancelled due to an “undesired, but inevitable decision, namely lack of financing”.
The number of documentaries and animated films produced in 2016 was approximately the same as in 2015 (over forty documentaries and ten animated films).
A few new domestic documentaries were broadcast by the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), including Stephan Komandarev’s From the Grateful Descendants (Argo Film), which particularly moved the audience.
After his successful long documentary Salto Mortale (Projector), Borislav Kolev continued dealing with heavy topics in his The Eye of the Minotaur (Projector), while Stanislav Donchev commemorated in Dream of Happiness (Korund Х) the 100th anniversary of the death of Bulgaria’s finest love poet Dimcho Debelyanov. The film premiered at the Sofia-based House of Cinema.
According to Nu Boyana Film Studios and the local press, three big budget foreign films were partially shot in Bulgaria in 2016: Fernando Léon de Aranoa’s Escobar, coproduced by Spain's Escobar Films and Bulgaria's Beyond To YOU Productions, and starring Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz, Paul Solet’s thriller Unchained (Millennium Films) starring Adrien Brody, John Malkovich and Antonio Banderas, and Ariel Vromen’s Criminal (Millennium Films) starring Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Ryan Reynolds and Tommy Lee Jones. According to Nu Boyana’s CEO Yariv Lerner „not only was Criminal serviced by Nu Boyana, but the whole postproduction was finalised there.”
Nu Boyana was also involved as the national coproducer in Zornitsa Sophia’s historical epic film Voevoda (MQ Pictures, Bulgaria and Focus Media, Croatia).
Bojan Vuletic’s dark comedy Requiem for Mrs J, coproduced by Serbia’s See Film Pro, Bulgaria’s Geopoly Film and Macedonia’s Skopje Film Studio, and starring Mirjana Karanovic, Danica Nedelkovic and Mira Banjac, also completed its Bulgarian shooting in Sofia and at the Black Sea in 2016.
The first Lithuanian/Bulgarian coproduction Miracle, a tragi-comic drama written and directed by Egle Vertelyte, was shot in the Sofia-based Doli media studio. The film coproduced by Lithuania’s InScript and Bulgaria’s Geopoly stars Egle Mikulionyte, Andrius Bialobzeskis, Vyto Ruginis and Daniel Olbrychski.
According to the NFC, a total of 154 films were released in 2016: 99 from the US, 31 European films, 17 domestic films and seven from other countries. The number of the holdovers and the re-releases was 103.
The box office market share of American films was 94.20 % and the admissions share was 93.05%. European films had 2.8 % box office share and 3.14 % admissions share. The domestic box office share was 2.59 % and the admissions' share was 3.32%.
In 2016 Forum Film Bulgaria and Alexandra Group remained the country’s leading distributors with 40 and 39 films released, respectively. Their market shares were nearly equal, 41.3 % for Forum Film and 39,96 % for Alexandra.
Domestic distributor Bulgaria Film Vision continued its activity distributing valuable European films such as Werner Herzog’s The Queen of the Desert, Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato, Dalibor Matanić’s The High Sun, and Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang.
On the other hand, the number of Bulgarian films released by established distribution companies decreased. In 2016 A+Films distributed five domestic films, followed by Art Fest with two domestic films.
Repeating their experience from 2015, several small production companies preferred to release their films by themselves. That was the case with directors/producers Petar Valchanov and Kristina Grozeva who after their debut feature The Lesson, distributed their second award-winning film Glory through their own production company Abraxas Film.
Writer/director/producer Ivaylo Penchev also released his comedy Holiday Makers through his company Urban Media, while Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova released their long documentary The Beast Is Still Alive through their company Activist 38.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
In 2016, the number of officially registered screens was 225. Practically all screens in the country are digitalised.
The total box office was 24.5m EUR and the total admissions were 5,431 028 in 2016.
Seventeen Bulgarian films were released, nearly the same number as in 2015, when there were sixteen.
In 2016 domestic films' admissions were 176,395 compared to 89,621 in 2015.
Domestic box office increased from 174,635 EUR / 341,557 BGN in 2015 to 611,949 EUR /1,196,868 BGN in 2016.
This great result was due mainly to Michaela Komitova’s debut feature 11th A Grade (Korund X), which ranked first with 97,867 admissions and 367,529 EUR gross. Ivailo Hristov’s Losers (Pro Film), distributed by A+Films, came second with 25,530 admissions and 87,211 EUR gross and Ivaylo Penchev’s Holiday Makers (Urban Media) with 18,374 admissions and 59,544 EUR gross.
BS Films released Dimitar Kozev-Shosho’s Monkey (Spotlight) with 14,372 admissions and 51,662 EUR gross, followed by Svetla Tsotsorkova’s Thirst (Front Film) distributed by Art Fest, with 6,479 admissions and 10,178 EUR gross and Peter Valchanov’s and Kristina Grozeva’s Glory (Abraxas Film) with 1,972 admissions and 4,764 EUR gross.
A+Films also released Atanas Kiryakov’s Barter (coproduced by the BNT and Ars Digital), with 1,430 admissions and 3,835 EUR gross, and also Antoniy Donchev’s debut feature The Woman of My Life (coproduced by Bulgaria’s Ars Digital, Macedonia’s KT Film & Media, Romania’s Peter Film Production, Hawena Films and the Kurdistan Regional Government, Irak), with 991 admissions and 2,823 EUR gross.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
In 2016, the Bulgarian National Film Center provided the main funding for film production. The Bulgarian National Television contributed with pre-sales to the budget of some national films, already supported by the NFC.
In 2016, the National Palace of Culture, which registered in 2015 at the NFC as a film production company, fulfilled its promise and supported some Bulgarian films, mostly documentaries. The Palace offered for free both Hall 1 and the Lumière hall for the premieres of some films.
In accordance with the Film Industry Act adopted in 2003, Bulgaria’s main institution’s annual support is calculated based on the total average budget of seven feature films, 14 long documentaries and 160 minutes of animated films.
In 2016 the NFC’s total support for the film industry, including production, distribution and exhibition, was 6,749,053 EUR.
Under the existing Bulgarian two-tier system, a project can receive the approval of the NFC expert selection committee, but the NFC funding becomes usable only when the producer of the film has 100% of the budget in place.
Based on this rule, in 2016 the Financing Committee of the NFC approved financial support for twelve feature films, three debut features, five short films and four short film debuts. Eleven projects also received development support.
Nineteen films were approved in the documentary section. Three projects were selected for development support. In the animated films section six films were approved for support.
The Film Industry Act also requires that up to 20% from the NFC’s annual budget must be allotted for Bulgarian minority coproductions. In 2016 three feature and two documentary coproductions were approved for financial support in the amount of 402,898 EUR.
Another 235,148 EUR was allotted for domestic distribution of Bulgarian and European films in 2016, and 191,019 EUR was approved for the support of local film festivals and international promotion of Bulgarian cinema.
Bulgarian National Television (BNT) is still the only TV channel obliged by the law to support independent producers with 10% of its total budget. In 2016 the annual amount was the same as in 2015, around 2.9 m EUR.
After five successful seasons, in 2016 the public broadcaster decided to put an end to its most successful series Under Cover directed by Victor Bojinov, Martin Makariev, Zoran Petrovski, Dimitar Gochev and Dimitar Mitovski.
In order to fulfil its obligations to the Bulgarian film industry, the BNT decided to participate as national coproducer of four feature films already supported by the NFC. BNT also acquired broadcasting rights of three low budget films.
Private TV channel bTV (in coproduction with Dream Team Productionn) backed the 11th season of its most popular series Sofia Residents in Excess directed by Alexander Kossev, Stanislav Todorov Rogi, Todor Chapkunov and Victor Bojinov. Thus, the total number of episodes broadcast since 23 March 2011 increased to 131.
Another popular TV series Stolen Life was backed by the private TV channel Nova TV. Based on real medical practice cases, the 81 episodes were directed by Zornitsa Sofia, Peter Valchanov, Pavel Vesnakov, Stanislav Donchev and Nikolai Kostov, all belonging to Bulgaria’s younger film generation.
On 6 November 2016 the online PIK TV started broadcasting. The 24 hours programme containing news, political, entertainment shows, films and TV series, is mostly designed for tablets and smartphones.
BULGARIAN NATIONAL TELEVISIONGeneral Director: Viara Ankova29, San Stefano Str.1504 Sofia, Bulgaria Phone: + 359 2 814 22 14 Phone.: + 359 2 944 49 99 (switchboard)www.bnt.bg
Report by Pavlina Jeleva (2017)Source Bulgarian National Film Centre
COUNTRY REPORT 2015
Various events celebrating the 100th anniversary of Bulgarian cinema have marked 2015. They started on the official Day of Bulgarian Cinema, 13 January 2015, and went on throughout the year. The Bulgarian National Bank issued a Silver Commemorative Coin and Bulgarian Post released an exclusive stamp.
Bulgarian National Television opened a public ballot for Best Bulgarian Film from among 100 titles. An exhibition of photographs from the sets of 100 popular Bulgarian films travelled throughout the country and abroad.
The Bulgarian National Film Centre experienced a year of instability with three acting directors, two of them replaced one after the other. The private sector which has been very active until recently in investing in cinema production downsized its participation in the industry in 2015.
One of the biggest success stories of 2015 was directors/producers Petar Valchanov and Kristina Grozeva, award-winning film The Lesson, which was presented as one of the three finalists of the prestigious LUX prix at the European parliament in November 2015. As one of the three LUX Prix finalists the film will receive sub-titling in 24 European languages which will give the film an additional boost in 2016 after a triumphant festival tour in 2015.
Nineteen feature films were produced in 2015, of which eleven were supported by the Bulgarian National Film Centre. Nine of them were fully nationally financed, two were coproduced with other countries and two were privately financed. Bulgaria participated as a minor coproducer in five coproductions. The Bulgarian National Television coproduced one feature film.
Several domestic feature films were shot in the summer of 2015. After 14 years of absence from cinema, award winning director Nikolay Volev shot his urban drama Off-road, producedby Nikoteia. Peter Popzlatev wrapped shooting for Wreckage (Bulgaria’s Postscriptum 2, France’s MACT Productions), based on Vladimir Zarev’s epic novel Decay. Two more films by younger directors also completed shooting in summer 2015: My Father, My Mother, My Sister by Dimitar Kozev-Shosho, produced by Spotlight and Voevoda by Zornitsa Sophia, produced by MQ Pictures in association with Dream Team Films.
The situation was rather similar in 2014 with seven features supported by the NFC and one feature entirely backed by the BNT.
Forty-three documentaries were produced in Bulgaria in 2015. The NFC supported 13, most of them long documentaries. There were 14 animated films produced in 2015. The NFC supported ten of them, including one 75-minute animated film.
Borislav Kolev’s Salto Mortale (Projector), Eldora Traykova’s Cambridge (ProFilm), Anna Petkova’s Agression (Gala Film), Ralitsa Dimitrova’s The March of the Letters (B Plus Film), were among the most important documentaries shot in 2015.
Anry Koulev’s Puk (Koulev Film Prouction) became the first long animated film ever supported by the NFC.
Ten international productions were shot in Bulgaria in 2015; less than in 2014, when their number was 15. As in recent years, most of the foreign productions were attracted by the Bulgarian branches of two American companies, Bulgarian Unified Production Organisation and Nu Boyana. According to the NFC’s official Register, only one project that shot in Bulgaria in 2015 was not directly linked to them.
In 2014 the situation was practically the same. The only difference was that at least three directors who shot in the country were European.
According to Nu Boyana, Bollywood romantic comedy Dilwale directed by Rohit Shetty and starring Shah Rukh Khan was serviced in Sofia during summer 2015. It was followed by Babak Najafi’s London Has Fallen, the upcoming American sequel to Olympus Has Fallen, produced by G-Base, Millenium Films and Nu Image.
Kevin Pollak’s American comedy The Late Bloomer (Alcon Entertainment), Claudio Fäh’s Untitled WWII Picture (Fourth Reich Productions) and Sniper 6: Kill Shot (S6 Productions) were also among films shot in Bulgaria in 2015.
According to the NFC 195 films were distributed in Bulgaria through November 2015, of which 96 were American, 83 European and 16 Bulgarian. The market share of the American films was 83%, the European productions had 13% market share, while the domestic films had 1.31% market share.
Alexandra Group and Forum Film remained the leading distributors in 2015. Both of them have been running important theatrical networks for years, Arena and Cinema City, and together they dominate the market with almost 77 % share of total box office.
Domestic distributor Bulgaria Film Vision has made a valuable contribution to the distribution of European films with the release of a number of valuable European titles which entered its catalogue in 2015. Alexander Sokurov’s Francofonia, Jacques Audiard’s Golden Palm winner Dheepan, Nanni Moretti’s Mia Madre, Gaspar Noé’s Love were bought to be released in the first half of 2016. Similar to 2014, A+Films, Pro Films, Art Fest and A + Cinema distributed most of European films.
The number of Bulgarian films released by established distribution companies decreased in 2015. A+Films and Pro Films distributed two domestic films each, followed by A + Cinema, which distributed only one. Several production companies preferred to release their newest Bulgarian films by themselves. That was the case with directors/producers Petar Valchanov and Kristina Grozeva, who distributed their award-winning film The Lesson through their own production company Abraxas Film.
Writer/director/producer Kamen Kalev also released his new film Face Down through his production company Waterfront. Martichka Bojilova distributed Svetoslav Stoyanov’s award-winning long documentary The Last Black Sea Pirates through her production company Agitprop.
According to the NFC, the total number of cinemas officially registered in 2015 was 47, including six cinemas newly opened during the year. There were 204 screens, including 13 newly opened. Practically all the screens in the country were digitalised.
The total box office was 19.5m EUR and the admissions were 4,478,119 through November 2015. Sixteen Bulgarian films were released in 2015, which is nearly twice as many as in 2014.
The controversial historical saga Dyakon Levski, directed by actor Maxim Genchev and produced by Amrita Art, ranked first with 38,623 admissions and 147, 998 EUR gross. Valchanov/Grozeva’s The Lesson came second with 11,935 admissions and 21,401 EUR gross, followed by Kostadin Bonev’s The Sinking of Sozopol (produced by Borough Film and distributed by A + Films) with 5,753 admissions and 18,938 EUR gross.
A + Cinema released Gueorgui Balabanov’s The Pertrov File (produced by Camera Ltd), which had 5,010 admissions and 16,346 EUR gross. Zahary Paunov‘s Hombre produced by Nach-Zach Vision and distributed by Pro Films had 2,943 admissions and 7,844 EUR gross.
The same distributor released the first Bulgarian 3D animated web series Bulgar, directed by Nedelcho Bogdanov and produced by Еntourage, which had 3,514 admissions and 6,216 EUR gross. A + Films released Stefan Komandarev’s The Judgment, coproduced by Bulgaria’s Argo Film, Germany’s Neue Mediopolis Filmproduktion, Macedonia’s Sektor Film and Croatia’s Propeler Film. The film had 1,845 admissions and 5,276 EUR gross through November 2015. Other domestic films had lower results.
In 2015, the Bulgarian National Center provided the main funding for film production. The Bulgarian National Television participated with pre-salesin the budget of some national films which were already supported by the NFC.
In accordance with the Film Industry Act adopted in 2003, Bulgaria’s main institution’s annual support is calculated based on the total average budgets of seven feature films, 14 long documentaries and 160 minutes of animated films. In 2015 the NFC’s total support for film industry was 6,755,210EUR.
According to the law, the NFC is obliged to allot80% of its annual budget to film production. By the end of November 2015 the NFC supported 65 projects: nine feature films, three debut features and three short films. Ten feature films were also selected for development support.
In the documentary section two long films were supported together with 15 films under 60’ and two first films. Six documentary projects were selected for development support.
In the animated films section one long film was supported, together with six short films and three debut films.
The Film Industry Act also requires that up to 20 % from the NFC’s annual budget has to be allotted for Bulgarian producers acting as minority coproducers. The planned amount in this section was 1.08 m EUR but in April 2015 the budget decreased by nearly 50% and therefore only four coproductions were supported in 2015 with 169,000 EUR each.
In 2014 there were nine minority coproductions supported by the NFC.
Since no less than 10% of the NFC’s annual budget has to be allotted for domestic distribution of Bulgarian films, the amount received by the distributors in 2015 was 675,000 EUR. The centre also approved 337,500 EUR for supporting local film festivals and international promotion of Bulgarian cinema.
In October 2015 Bulgaria’s Ministry of Tourism initiated an advertising campaign with the participation of various Hollywood stars who have shot in Bulgaria: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Salma Hayek, Antonio Banderas and Adrien Brody. They were all invited to star in an ad picturing Bulgaria as a destination for film tourism.
According to Nikolina Angelkova, the minister of Tourism, „the connection between cinema and tourism is obvious and it is highly important that we use all opportunities to advertise our country”. However, the spot was not unanimously welcomed in Bulgaria.
A working group was set up in order to explore the economic possibilities for a future implementation of a tax incentive scheme in Bulgaria. No official decision was taken by the end of the year.
In 2015 the National Palace of Culture registered at the NFC as a film production company. Thus it became possible for the Palace to act as national coproducer of Bulgarian films. An internal selection committee was appointed. The main requirement for producers is to raise 75% of their budgets. The first contest session took place in August 2015. Forty two projects applied of which nine feature films and ten documentaries were selected.
The administrative director Miroslav Borshosh promised that the Palace “will support the advertising campaigns of the selected films by offering Hall 1 for their premieres“. Four sessions are expected in 2016.
Bulgarian National Television is still the only TV channel obliged by the law to support independent producers with 10% of its total budget. In 2015 the BNT spent less than 2.9 m EUR on production.
During the second half of 2015 the public television gave a green light for a newly established company Camera Entertainment to start shooting the last 12 episodes of the fifth season of the popular criminal series Under Cover. The television also backed the shooting of the second season of Fourth Estate, a 12-episode political thriller series focusing on the clash between power and media in contemporary Bulgaria. Since the shooting was nearly completed by the end of 2015, the broadcast was planned for February 2016.
The first private TV channel in Bulgaria bTV backed and broadcast the first episodes of its new urban serial Liaisons, produced by Emo Vision. This is the eighth TV series funded and broadcast by bTV since its establishment in 2000.
The TV channel for Bulgarian communities from Chicago, America and abroad, Bulgarian International Television, which started broadcasting on 31 May 2013 in Chicago, opened a second office in Sofia. Since September 2015 its main journalists are Ralitsa Vassileva and Neri Terzieva. Vassileva, who used to work for CNN, now works in Chicago, while Terzieva is based in Sofia.
On 19 October 2015 the international business television Bloomberg TV Bulgaria started broadcasting. The television, which is part of the media group Bulgaria on Air, promised to focus on important business and financial events in the country and in the world. The channel is also licensed to show original economic programmes from Bloomberg TV.
Bulgarian National Film CenterPresident: Kamen Balkanski
Bulgarian National Film ArchiveDirector: Antonia Kovacheva
Bulgarian National TelevisionGeneral Director: Viara Ankova29, San Stefano Str.1504 Sofia, Bulgaria Phone: + 359 2 814 22 14 Phone.: + 359 2 944 49 99 (switchboard)www.bnt.bg
Report by Pavlina Jeleva (16 Dec 2015)
Source Bulgarian National Film Centre
Population: 7,132,045 (2016)GDP per capita in EUR: 6,667 (preliminary data)Total admissions: 5,431,028 (2016)Admissions per capita: 0.76 (2016)Box office in EUR: 24,363,157 (2016)National market share: 2.59 (2016)Feature film production: 17 (2016)Number of screens: 225 (2016)Digital screens: 225 (2016)Average ticket price in Euro: 4.47 (2016)Annual state support for film industry: 7,564,055 EUR (2016)
Source: National Film Center
Admissions Top Ten 2016
Top 10 in Europa Cinemas Network cinemas 2015
(country, 3 towns, 13 cinemas, 68 screens)
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (USA), by J.J.Abrams2. Fast &Furious 7 (USA), by James Wan3. Minions (USA), by Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin4. Spectre (UK), by Sam Mendes5. Hotel Transylvania 2 (USA), by Genndy Tartakovsky6. Fifty Shades of Grey (USA), by Sam Taylor-Johnson7. Jurassic World (USA), by Colin Trevorrow8. Inside Out (USA), by Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen9. The Martian (USA), by Ridley Scott10. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (USA), by Christopher McQuarrie
Source Europa Cinemas
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