In addition to being Director of Sofia International Film Festival, Stefan has recently produced 'The World Is Big And Salvation Lurks Around The Corner', which is premiering in the UK at London's East End Film Festival in April.
We asked Stefan to share a few of his thoughts and influences with us.
Your British Council Connection is?
In 1993 together with The British Council we did the first Rock Film Festival at the Cinema House in Sofia. After that I won a stipend to do an arts management course and lived in the UK for 7 months. Bought my first proper acoustic ‘Yamaha’ guitar, went to Eric Clapton and Jethro Tull concerts, fell in love with Covent Garden, MOMI (my favourite museum ever) and the National Film Theatre, visited regularly the London Film Festival and once Andy Engel invited me for lunch in Soho, discovered ’12 Bar’ at the guitar street in London with a gig of Bert Jensch, tried roasted duck in my favourite Chinese restaurant in Soho, my tutor Christopher Moughn recorded me the first Joni Mitchell albums in his house in Leicester, followed the spirits of the swinging 60s and visited the legendary ‘club ‘Marquee’, after being in the Guinness museum in Dublin discovered the taste of Guinness in ‘The Toucan’ next to Soho Square – not bad at all, and thanks to Jo Maurice, Dessy Stoicheva, David Stokes, Nigel Cross, Satwant Gill, Christine Bardsley, Kevin Lewis, Ian Stokes, Tony Buckby and all other friends in the British Council made what it is now Sofia International Film Festival. Should mention also the second Rock Film Festival in 1994, the amazing Monty Python festival in 1996, several British Film Festivals, couple of Jazz festivals, all SFFs since 1997, and lots of fun over all those (75) years.
Any current projects?
Festival: 14th Sofia International Film Festival
Films (production): short – 'Take Two’ by Nadejda Kosseva, feature – ‘Queen Victoria’ by Maya Vitkova Distribution: ‘The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner’ by Stephan Komandarev and ‘Palermo Shooting’ by Wim Wenders
Fun: Backgammon tournaments with the team of ‘The World Is Big’, gigs with The Festival Band and maintaining Kita’s garden round the corner.
What/who originally turned you onto film?
The legendary film historian and critic Todor Andreikov, director of the Bulgarian National Film Archive in the late 70s and early 80s – a brave dreamer and a great believer in cinema.
What has been your career high so far?
Sofia International Film Festival I founded, the film ‘The World Is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner’ I co-produced and the garden behind our block in the centre of Sofia – the magnolia blossoms are in their high just now.
What was your first job in the film industry?
Director of The Cinema House, the most important art house cinema in Bulgaria – went there straight from the street where played guitar as a busker.
'If I knew then what I know now…'
Just ‘always look on the bright side of life’.
Favourite British film?
‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’, because I fell down from a chair twice while watching it. It’s the funniest movie ever, I think.
The film I wish I'd made...
‘Tim Burton’s The Nightmare before Christmas’, because it’s endless feast of imagination and it’s been lots of fun while making it – now it’s lots of fun watching it – I do so on every Christmas day since 15 years with my daughter Ana.
First film you ever saw?
‘The Black Tulip’ with Alain Delon, still remember the whistling melody, it should have been 1966.
Favourite line from a film?
The opening scene and the peep show conversation in ‘Paris, Texas’. Pure, deep, emotional, sincere, real cinema, art, music, life.
Favourite screen kiss?
‘The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain’ – her first kiss with the man of her dreams – because she wanted it so passionately, and deserved it.
Who’s your favourite screen hero/villain?
Butch Cassidy – such a charismatic loser.
Who would play you in the film about your life?
Well, Paul Newman, but it’s quite late. So it should be a documentary, I’m afraid.