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  Invitation: Sliven International Mountain Film Festival 19-21 September 2003

To All Filmmakers and Mountain Lovers, It gives us great pleasure to inform you about Sliven International Mountain Film Festival. The Festival, being held in Sliven, is the first of its kind in Balkan region, home to the very nice mountains. The event is a unique platform for filmmakers from around the globe, featuring new and exciting works on mountains, mountain peoples and mountain sports. It will bring together in a competitive venue, film and filmmakers from all over in a enjoyable gathering to appreciate each other’s works and discuss ideas and issues related to highland dwellers, cultures and environment. Enclosed, is an entry form on the Festival. We hope we will enjoy your cooperation in spreading the word and making the Festival an enduring success.


Natallie Petrova

Festival Director

Sliven International Mountain Film Festival

August 2003

Why Sliven? This town has an exceptional tradition in mountaineering. The local mountaineering club “The Blue Stones” (“Sinite Kamani”) is 101 years old. Sliven is the place of origin for expedition alpinism in Bulgaria and its founders are the first Bulgarians who visited the exotic mountains of the world.

In 1969, Sliven’s alpinist citizens set out from Bulgaria with two microbuses loaded on a ship. They crossed the Mediterranean sea, disembarking in Egypt. The Emperor of Ethiopia at that time, Haile Selasie, met them personally. They crossed the Sahara desert and made the first Bulgarian ascent of Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro. In 1971, members of the same group made an attack on Noshak (Noshaq, 7492m), the highest point of Afghanistan’s Hindukush mountain range.

In 2002, under the leadership of Dinko Tomov, alpinists of Sliven’s mountaineering club “Mountains and Adventures” realized the biggest Bulgarian journey in Asia. Again the group traveled with a truck. Along the way the members of this expedition climbed the highest peaks of Turkey (Ararat) and Iran (Mt. Demavent). Then they crossed Pakistan and reached the Kun-Lun mountain range in China. There they made the first Bulgarian ascent of Mustag-Ata (7547m). Crossing the desert of Takla-Makan and the ancient lands of Kashgaria and Jungaria, they reached the ancient proto-Bulgarian country – a land named Imeon – situated at the foot of Tian-Shan Mountain or “The Sky Mountains”. There they scaled Mt. Khan-Tengri (6995m), honoured by the proto-Bulgarians as a representative of their Prime God, Tangra. The voyagers on this incredible journey visited some of the biggest cultural and historical places of Asia during this trip. They came back with a couple of thousand pictures and many video tapes. They shared their experiences with a lot of people in splendid presentations by Dinko Tomov in Sliven, Plovdiv, Sofia, and Varna.

We could also mention the location of Sliven, its traditions, and the celebrities who came from this town – leaders, writers, poets, musicians, and sportsmen.  Alpinism and mountaineering are part of this city’s atmosphere, something that deeply excites the entire community.

Traditions: Bulgarian alpine movies have long achieved amazing success. In 1947, “People among Clouds,” a movie made by Zahari Zhandov, won first prize for a documentary movie in the International film festival in Venice. In 1968, “Living Fossils,” a movie made by Konstantin Kostov, won one of the special prizes in a festival in Trento, Italy – the “mountaineering Cannes”. Seven years later (1975) another movie received a special prize. This was the masterpiece “Sunrises” (filmed during the ascent on the north face of Vihren).

Bulgarian movies for mountaineering and caving have won many more prizes and diplomas in different movie festivals around the world.

Organizers: This festival is a project of the municipality of Sliven and the Association “International Mountain Film Festival”. Other contributors are the community of Sliven, The Federation of the Bulgarian Alpine Clubs, the Italian and the Polish Cultural Institutes, “Goethe Institute” – Sofia, the culture department of the Austrian embassy, and others.

The Program: The program consists of about 50 movies or almost 20 hours. There will be two parts: competitive and retrospective. Concerns to be addressed are the preservation of the nature of mountains, the culture and way of life of mountain dwelling peoples, and the flora and fauna of mountainous regions, the extreme mountain sports.

The retrospective part is dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest (8848m) and Nanga Parbat (8125m), and will consist of 15 unique movies presenting the essential historic moments of those two mountains and the world’s mountaineering.

The Additional Program: The primary focus here will be meetings with the various Bulgarian alpinists, cavers, and adventurers who realized the high achievements of recent years. These include Sliven’s Asian expedition, the climbing of Broad Peak (8047m) in Kakakorum, and the underwater caving expedition in the Vratsa region (with the participation of Frenchmen, Belgians and Croatians). More such accomplishments are the scaling of several volcanoes in Ecuador (including Chimboraso, the most remote point from the center of the Earth) and hauling down the Amazon River, the expedition to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Several photo and art exhibitions are planned, as well as meetings, discussions about mountain film, etc.

The Ambitions: Those who organize the festival want to put it among the most popular movie forums. They consider this manifest as a possibility to present to the world the Bulgarian mountains, mountain resorts and ski-centers, and tourist business in our country. Association “International Mountain Film Festival”

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