Premieres of the Anniversary Edition of Astra Film Festival

Dozens of documentary films will have their premieres in Sibiu starting this Sunday at the anniversary edition of the Astra Film Festival, which promises to be an exceptional cultural event at a moment when it celebrates its 30th anniversary since its first edition. From insights into the biography of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the world of shepherds, from the issues of the German education system to the world of pickpockets, from unromanticized biographies of exemplary lives to the stories of ordinary people, all of these will be seen for the first time in Sibiu from October 15th to 22nd. For the complete program, details, and tickets, visit the festival's website: https://www.astrafilm.ro/en/2023/program-schedule.
The festival will kick off with a powerful film, "Meeting Zelensky" (work-in-progress version), co-directed by Emmy award winner Andre Singer and Liev Schreiber. It will be presented at the festival's opening gala. The film follows the story of Volodymyr Zelensky, from his childhood in the USSR to his days of fame and success in the show business industry, followed by his presidency in Ukraine. After the screening, André Singer will participate in a panel discussion moderated by writer, journalist, and diplomat Emil Hurezeanu, along with surprise guests. It's not the only documentary film about Ukraine; "20 Days in Mariupol", also premiering, tells the poignant story of journalists trapped in the city besieged by the Russian army. The film is directed by Pulitzer Prize winner Mstyslav Chernov and won the Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Another first-time screening in Romania is "Three Women", directed by Maksym Melnyc, which sensitively portrays how a researcher, a postal worker, and an elderly woman in a village find meaning in their lives despite isolation and loneliness.

„Milky Way," by Dumitru Budrala, is another eagerly awaited film by Astra Film's audience. It will be the first time viewers get to see the meaningful story of a shepherd family continuing a millennia-old tradition in the age of speed and technology. Dumitru Budrala explores the secrets and challenges of transhumance in an exceptionally transparent documentary, offering a glimpse into a world we often carry within ourselves without knowing. Also hitting the screens for the first time is "Amar," a film about pickpockets and their world, created by director Diana Gavra. The film, which shows how pickpockets think and act, competes in the Romania Competition alongside other first-time premieres like "Our Daily Bread" by Șerban Georgescu and „Earth's Sweet Kiss" by Gautier Gumpper.

The winner of the Best Director award in the Un Certain Regard section at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Asame el Moudir, is also competing at Sibiu with the same film, „Mother of All Lies" - a premiere in Romania. This autobiographical documentary recalls the popular uprisings of 1981, known as the Bread Riots, sparked by Morocco's precarious economic situation, violently suppressed by law enforcement and officially silenced. Another captivating film, "Mrs. Buică," a production by Eugene Buică with footage recorded over 24 years in Romania and the USA, offers a courageous look at family relationships from an unconventional perspective.
"My Uncle Luben," directed by Nikola Boshnakov, is another emotionally charged autobiographical journey. The film's protagonist, a rock band singer from Dresden, travels to Sofia to sell the apartment he inherited from his deceased Bulgarian uncle, artist Luben Stoev. However, his plans take an unexpected turn on-site. Boshnakov's film participates in the Central and Eastern European Competition, where other premieres include productions like „Love Room" by Suzana Dinevski, "Silent Love" by Marek Kozakiewicz, "Manifesto" by Angie Vinchito, „Paying a Visit to Fortuna" by Mátyás Kálmán. Filmed in a Cácua Amerindian community in Colombia by director Sergio Guataquira Sarmiento, himself of Amerindian descent, „Adieu Sauvage" speaks about understanding (or lack thereof) of the other in a poetic, sensory, and intimate manner, ultimately touching on deep existential notes.
Sibiu will also host the premiere of „The Teacher's  Lounge," directed by Ilker Çatak, Germany's submission for the Oscars, a film where a young teacher, in her first year of teaching, battles a system that should prioritize children's interests but doesn't. There will be many premieres at Astra Film Junior, a special program for children and adolescents running alongside the anniversary edition of AFF. One of the most interesting premieres is "Another Body," where a student discovers that her image and identity have been stolen and used in explicit material available on the internet.
About Astra Film Festival
Astra Film Festival Sibiu, launched in 1993 as an innovative project, is one of the most important non-fiction film festivals in Europe. Under the High Patronage of the President of Romania, the festival is organized by Astra Film, CNM Astra and the Astra Film Foundation, with the Ministry of Culture as a strategic partner, with the support of the Sibiu County Council, the National Center of Cinematography, the Romanian Cultural Institute, the Consulate of the Federal Republic Germany in Sibiu and the Union of Cinematographers. The event is co-financed by the Sibiu City Council through the Sibiu City Hall.
Strategic partner: Ministry of Culture
Sponsors: HBO Go, Martini, Cinelab, Materom Autohaus, Luthelo, CineGOLD, Promenada Mall, DPD Romania, Kulinarium, Sonne
Monitoring partner: MediaTrust
Media partners: Europa FM, TV5 Monde, Radio România Cultural, News.ro, G4media, Hotnews, Spotmedia, PressHub, Turnul Sfatului, Sibiu 100%, Tribuna, Messagerul de Sibiu, Ora de Sibiu, independent Sibiu, Sibiul azi, Hermannstädter Zeitung, Nine O` Clock, Scena9, Cinemagia, Cineuropa, Film New Europe, Observator cultural, Timpul, AaRC, MovieNews, Cinefan, Cinefilia, Liternet, Cultural Capital, Revista Transilvania, Filmtett, Modern Times Review
Communication partner: PiArt Vision

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