MILKO LAZAROV graduated in Film and TV Directing from NATFA, Sofia, in the class of Prof. Vladislav Ikonomov. Lectured at Film Department, NATFA. He directed TV campaigns for BNT: The Great Bulgarians, Twentieth-Century Events and The Big Read. His feature debut Alienation premiered at Venice IFF 2013 in the Official Selection of Venice Days and received two awards: Special Mention from Europa Cinemas Label and Best Young Director from FEDEORA.
His sophomore feature Ága (2018) premiered in the Main Competition (Out of Completion) at Berlinale and received more than 40 awards around the world including: Grand Prix for Best Film at IFF Fajr; Best Director at IFF Eurasia; The Heart of Sarajevo for Best Film, IFF Sarajevo; Golden Raven for Best Film at Arctic IFF Chukotka; Golden Rose for Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Critic’s Award, Journalists’ Award, Golden Rose, Varna; Best Director and Green Spike Award at IFF Valladolid; Special Jury Prize at IFF Malatya; Special Jury Prize Silver Peacock at IFFI Goa; Shadi Abdel Salam for Best Film, International Film Critics’ Week, IFF Cairo; Best Cinematography, IFF Macao and East-West Golden Arch.
Ága was Bulgaria’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award.
RENATA SANTORO graduated in Political Sciences – International Economy at University of Rome, followed by a Master in International Organizations and Politics. She is a film researcher and programmer for Giornate degli Autori, the independent section of Venice Film Festival since 2010, after working in the communication office of the same festival for six years as a film researcher and consultant, specialised in Central/Eastern European Countries and Asian cinemas.
Jury member at many festivals and lecturer in Berlin and Cannes for the ScripTeast Program; translator of screenplays and films’ promotional materials for several Italian production and distribution companies.
Before that, for ten years, program manager in a company specialised in education and training in the audiovisual field for young graduates and professionals and coordinator of eight consecutive editions of Master in European Audiovisual Management. Among her publications are as follows:
How to counsel tomorrow? Aspects of future vocational counsel- ling in the media sector; Training needs of the audiovisual management; New skills for the Information
EMIL CHRISTOV was born in Sofia in 1956. He graduated from the College of Photography, and went on to study Cinematography at NATFA, Sofia. In the period 1982–1990 he was head of the cinematographers’ unit at Vreme Film Studio. He has more than 50 documentary and 30 feature films, one hundred TV commercials and more than 20 music videos to his credit as cinematographer. He has been the director of photography of the following award- winning films: I, the Countess, Best Cinematography at the 1989 Troya Fest, Portugal; Full Moon Late, Best Cinematography at the 1996 Golden Rose Festival in Varna, Bulgaria; Tuvalu (1999), winner of the 2000 KODAK Award for Cinematography; Touched by God, winner of the Best Cinematography Award at the 2002 Golden Rose Festival in Varna; Under the Same Sky, winner of the KODAK Award for Best Cinematography at the 2003 Sofia International Film Festival. The Color of the Chameleon, his directorial debut, received Golden Rose Award for Best Film and the National Film Academy Award for Best Film.
JORETA NIKOLOVA studied Acting at NATFA. Her career began at the state-run theatre company in Lovech; then she joined the Satirical Theatre company, Sofia and Sfumato Theatre Laboratory, Sofia.
In 2003, she became a member of the company of Ivan Vazov National Theatre. She played in many theatrical productions and films; nominee for many awards; received two Askeers and one Icarus. She participated in international theatre projects. Casting Director and co-owner with Svetlana Yancheva of As-Art casting agency.
Teaches Casting at Screen Arts Faculty, NATFA, Sofia.
Born in Zagreb, Croatia, and graduated film directing at the ADU (Academy of Dramatic Arts) in Zagreb. He also worked as a first assistant director, screenwriter, radio playwright, cook and essayist. He produced and directed the comedy What is a Man without a Moustache?, the highest grossing film at Croatian box office in the first decade of the century, which was shown in 40+ international film festivals. He is also the author of Croatian Cathedrals (satirical tv feature) and the short film Between Zaghlul & Zaharias (produced by Tuna-film). In 2001, he directed the TV series New Age for Croatian RTV (HRT).
He was awarded the Oktavijan (Best Croatian film of the year) several times (for the feature Tranquiliser Gun, the documentary Once there was a Man and the short Between Z&Z). President to Croatian film directors’guild in three terms, since June 2008 till 2012, he has been serving as a member of the Executive Committee of FERA (Federation of European Directors).
As a CEO to the HAVC, he was the co-author and advocate of two 4-year National strategies in a row. His legacy concerning HAVC includes the National independent cinema network and Croatian rebate scheme (2012) that attracted international projects such as Game of Thrones, Borgias, Star Wars and others.
ANDREY PAOUNOV is a writer/director of several documentaries including Georgi and the Butterflies, which won the Silver Wolf in Amsterdam in 2004; The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories (2007), selected in Cannes, and The Boy Who Was a King (2011), which premiered in Toronto.
His latest documentary film Walking on Water (2018) following renowned artist Christo premiered at Locarno Festival.
He is currently in post-production on his first narrative feature, January.
ANA VALCHANOVA graduated in Acting for Stage from NATFA, Sofia. In 1990, joined the company of Sofia Theatre. From 2005 onward she played at the Satirical Theatre, Sofia. Participated in over 50 theatrical and film productions, TV series, radio programmes and TV shows. Seven years taught Acting at NATFA. She received the Icarus and Askeer awards and many other prizes.
YOSHIKO MINEKAWA is a film critic, curator and translator, born in Tokyo. Graduated in Film Studies from NATFA, in the class of Prof. Vera Naidenova (1997); received master’s degrees in Social Environment: Media and Information (1993) and Media and Governance: Human Security and Communications (2005) from Keio University, and a master’s degree in Directing and Subtitle Translation from the Film School of Tokyo, with director Hirokazu Kore-eda (2004). Member of the Audiovisual Education Centre, University of Tokyo (1998–2001); Film Programme Director, Art Centre of Tokyo (2005–2009); member of Japan Community Cinema Centre (2001), of ICOM Japan (2018); member of the team behind Filmex, Tokyo. Presently, Director of the Japan-Bulgarian Association for Friendship and Cultural Relations, Tokyo (since 2012; Principal Secretary 2009–2012). She has lectured on Bulgarian film and Bulgarian culture at Japan National Film Centre, universities and colleges in Japan. She has translated Bulgarian films and TV shows from Bulgarian into Japanese. She has contributed a lot for various media on Eastern Plays and presented the movie at cinemas and for the press in Japan.