Azerbaijan Participation in Sofia MENAR Film Festival

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The Ninth Sofia MENAR Film Festival, which includes films from the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa, is held from January 12 to January 29. For the first time it features two films from Azerbaijan, too.

H. E. Dr. Nargiz Gurbanova (left)
H. E. Dr. Nargiz Gurbanova (left)

“We are very much pleased that this event is part of the year-round celebration of the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Bulgaria, said Ambassador H. E. Dr. Nargiz Gurbanova in her speech at the opening of the official night of the country within the framework of the festival.

“This is our debut although as a nation we boast a long history of film-making. Next year we will celebrate the 120th anniversary of Azerbaijani cinematography. Notably, the film industry in my country was established almost at the same time as the very invention of moviemaking.

Shortly after the Lumiere brothers from France invented and patented Cinematographe, a new apparatus for making motion pictures, in 1895, French entrepreneur, photographer and cameraman Alexandre Michon, who had been actively involved in documenting oil fields in Baku since 1879, started filming motion pictures portraying the city. He shot his first film on 2 August 1898. Each year, we celebrate 2 August as the Day of Azerbaijani Cinema. – said Ambassador H. E. Dr. Nargiz Gurbanova

“The Azerbaijani film industry developed further in 1916 when Pirone brothers turned cinematography in Azerbaijan into a manufacturing industry. One of amazing works by the company was the pearl of the national cinema – the “Arshin Mal Alan” (The Cloth Peddler) comedy, based on great Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov’s operetta, which had a great success in Azerbaijan and abroad.”

H.E. Dr. Nargiz Gurbanova presented both Azerbaijani films included in the programme of this year’s Sofia MENAR Film Festival.

A screenshot of the film “The Red Garden”
A screenshot of the film “The Red Garden”

The “Red Garden” tells the story of a provincial teacher. The film internationally premiered at the 12th Eurasia International Film Festival in Kazakhstan. The European premiere of the ‘Red Garden’ took place at the 65th International Film Festival Mannheim-Heidelberg in Germany. The film has been screened at the 5th Lake Van International Film Festival in Turkey and the Cairo International Film Festival in Egypt. It has also been selected to represent Azerbaijan at the 7th European Film Festival in Baku and 15th Dhaka International Film Festival.

The second movie is called “Urban motives”, it will be screened 10 days from now, on 28 January at 8 pm at the Euro Cinema. «Urban motives» is a film anthology that consists of 5 short films, each by a different director. These films relate in some way to the subject of urban life and are set within different districts of Baku.

H.E. Dr. Nargiz Gurbanova’s speech, as well as pictures from the event, were kindly provided by the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Sofia.