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Bulgarian National Film Center celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The Center was established pursuant to Council of Ministers’ Resolution No. 107 of 6 June 1991. The first director of the Bulgarian National Film Center, Dimiter Dereliev recalls how it all began:

In the spring of 1991, the desire for a radical change in this country’s film industry has led to a pivotal point. The best part of the young filmmakers insisted that an end should be put to the state’s monopoly over the film industry to establish a new, European structure. Prof. Dimo Dimov in his capacity as the Minister of Culture was firmly resolved to take actions and his deputies, Prod. Ivailo Znepolski and Pavel Vasev had strong opinions about the matter. That was how the things came to the adoption of Council of Ministers’ Resolution No. 107 of 6 June 1991, by which the National Film Center was established. I was appointed the director out of the blue as more popular figures had been widely tipped to get the office. It was so rewarding to start with a clean slate in a new system, enjoying greater autonomy.

 An early achievement was the successful outcome of the negotiations with Gaetano Adinolfi, the founding President of the Eurimages (European Cinema Support Fund) on Bulgaria becoming a member state of the Fund. The problem lay in the fact that this country had not yet joined the Council of Europe and the Fund is within the framework of the CoE. At the time, Elka Konstantinova in her capacity as the Minister of Culture made every effort to speed up the process. Later, Bulgaria’s admission to the EU’s MEDIA Programme, years before Bulgaria joined the EU, was yet another achievement.

 It took the Film Center and the filmmaking community 12 years to make the Film Industry Act happen; what matters though is that the job was done. The Film Industry Act established the National Film Center as an independent institution and secured a more sustainable pattern of development of Bulgarian film. The developments over the decades suggest the need to improve the Film Industry Act.

Apart form its membership in the Eurimages and MEDIA Programme, the National Film Center is the coordinator for Bulgaria of the European Audiovisual Observatory, which collects and distributes information to about the audiovisual industries of 39 countries in Europe. Bulgaria, one of the founder members of the Observatory, took over European Audiovisual Observatory Presidency for 2016.

Since 2005, the National Film Center has represented Bulgaria within the European Film Promotion, a leading international promotion organisation representing the interests of European film productions, directors and actors at prestigious international festivals and markets around the globe.

The South Eastern Europe Cinema Network’s Charter was signed in June 2001, in Sofia, establishing and founding the organization. The National Film Center represents Bulgaria in this first of its kind international initiative to unite the national public institutions in the field of filmmaking of the region.

Bulgarian National Film Center evolved into a recognizable partner in coproduction with States parties to the European Convention on Cinematographic Coproduction and with France, Canada, Israel, Turkey, Italy, and Russia, with which Bulgaria has signed film coproduction agreements.

Bulgarian National Film Center has had its own pavilion at the Cannes Marché du film for seven years now and a stand within the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin for a second year now.

Between 1991 and 2016, the National Film Center has financially supported the production of 138 features, 236 documentaries and 124 animated films. Funds have been allocated for the production of short features, film debuts and low-budget projects, creating opportunities for young people to feel more confident about their work in the film industry.

Bulgarian movies that have received state aid allocated by the National Film Center, are gaining recognition and receiving awards abroad, sustaining Bulgarian audiences’ interest in Bulgarian film in its new traditions and development.

Film distribution companies were set up making distribution of European and Bulgarian film a top priority. The National Film Center fits even better into the European trends in electronic data processing and rendering services online.

The incumbent CEO of Bulgarian National Film Center, Kamen Balkanski said on the occasion of the Center’s 25th anniversary:

Now, when Europe is not just a geographical term but rather a territory open to shared European values, the specifics of each national film industry build what we call European cinema and cultural diversity. Bulgarian film is free to express itself, to find international partners and audiences both across Europe and the world, rather than within this country alone. Hard work is in store for us in the fields of education and attraction of new audiences; in promotional activities; theatrical release, digital technologies. It is high time that we talk more about the qualities of the movies; about the emotions they stir up in the audiences and leave all talks about money aside as something necessary but not staple.

 ‘Presently, Bulgarian film is available beyond Bulgaria’s borders as borders are no longer high walls. Let’s look up at the world and measure ourselves against it.