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network 29/03/2016 - 03:00PM

CP Executive Director Svetla Turnin hosts political documentary screenings at the Sofia International Film Festival

CP's Executive Director Svetla Turnin. Photo credit: Emily Gan

In addition to her regular tasks as a juror in the documentary program, Cinema Politica’s Executive Director, Svetla Turnin, hosted screenings of five CP titles at the Sofia International Film Festival

Svetla chose to bring films from CP’s network roster that, as we hope for all of our screenings, would provoke locally meaningful conversations about globally relevant issues, such as the environment, austerity, and the counter-narratives of marginalized and neglected communities. 

Screenings of AGORA, TELL SPRING NOT TO COME THIS YEAR and BANKING NATURE

Images (Clockwise from top left): Skype Q&A with filmmaker Yorgos Avgeropoulos at the screening of his film AGORA, discussion with Bulgarian activist Ivaylo Dinev at the screening of AGORA, Skype Q&A with TELL SPRING NOT TO COME THIS YEAR directors Michael McEvoy and Saeed Taji Farouki, long-term WWF member Georgi Stefanov debates the audience at the screening of BANKING NATURE.

The screening of AGORA inspired a fascinating discussion with director Yorgos Avgeropoulos about the true reasons behind the Greek financial crisis as well as the anti-Greek sentiments in mainstream Bulgarian journalism. Meanwhile, BANKING NATURE offered the audiences its powerful commentary on the dangers of letting economics determine environmental conservation by challenging the corporate narrative that financializing nature will save it from extinction. The film’s subtle critique of big environmental NGOs was certainly not lost in the post-screening discussion: an employee with Bulgaria’s chapter of the World Wildlife Fund, who used the opportunity to reflect on the economic conflicts within his work. TELL SPRING NOT TO COME THIS YEAR, a prominent fixture in the global 2015 film festival circuit and a memorable edition to CP Concordia’s Winter 2015 season, showed the political instability of contemporary Afghanistan from the perspective of soldiers in the under-supported and under-supplied Afghan National Army. Bulgaria is far more embroiled in the global refugee crisis than is represented in most mainstream media, so this film and the ensuing Q&A session with its directors provided necessary context for why so many people are fleeing their homes in Afghanistan, Syria, and more.

 Screenings of ONCLE BERNARD and HANDS ON: WOMEN, CLIMATE, CHANGE

Images: Skype discussions with filmmaker Richard Brouillette at the screening of his film ONCLE BERNARD: A COUNTER LESSON IN ECONOMICS and with filmmaker Nupur Basu at the screening of HANDS ON: WOMEN, CLIMATE, CHANGE, a film she co-directed with Liz Miller, Mary Kiio, Iphigénie Marcoux-Fortier & Karen Winther

Svetla also brought to Sofia two independent Canadian films, which were quite well received by the hundreds of spectators who attended the Cinema Politica programming. ONCLE BERNARD: A COUNTER LESSON IN ECONOMICS, directed by longtime Cinema Politica ally Richard Brouillette, revolves around an interview with Charlie Hebdo co-founder and economist Bernard Maris about the fallacies of neoliberal policies. HANDS ON: WOMEN, CLIMATE, CHANGE and its inspiring tales of climate activists around the world, has been a popular title in the CP network for years (and directed by another long time CP ally, Liz Miller). Fortunately, Indian co-director Nupur Basu was able to join the post-screening conversation in Sofia from her home in Bangalore.

Outside the CP sidebar, Svetla was inspired by the high quantity and quality of the political documentaries that were already slated to screen at SIFF: “I was so inspired by some of the films coming out of Ukraine and from Georgia. There were two great docs about the refugee crisis, and another about nuclear energy… they all could have easily been Cinema Politica films”. Needless to say, the CP Programming team is very actively seeking to bring these films to our network - stay tuned. 

Overall, Svetla was very impressed with not only the knowledgeable and engaged audiences that turned up for SIFF’s documentary screenings, but that these audiences seemed to have grown from last year’s festival, where Cinema Politica also screened a handful of films. She is already looking forward to bringing more of our favourite films to Sofia’s festival next year.

The whole experience at SIFF leads us to believe that there is still an urgent need and a passionate audience for political documentaries the world over, and Cinema Politica remains committed to our mandate to screen truth to power. 

Svetla, Добре дошла у дома and safe travels!