American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) held its first Short Film Fest on the last weekend of November. It brought together ÉCU- The European Independent Film Festival, South Western University “Neofit Rilski”, the International Documentary and Short Film Festival (DokuFest), Early Bird Student Film Festival, and In the Palace International Short Film Festival.

Scott Hillier, the president of ÉCU gave a lecture at the opening, which was the highlight of the three-day event. He talked about filmmaking and showcased excerpts from the movies he made. Along with the technical details of shooting and editing video work, he told students to always try to be the best at whatever they do. He motivated students to follow their passions, telling about his adventures in war zones where he worked as a freelancer for BBC. After quitting war journalism he started making documentaries, and at the end of his lecture, students who gathered in the AUBG auditorium had a chance to watch Hillier’s biggest work, the film Twin Towers that won an Academy Award in 2003.

Future journalists from both AUBG and South Western University showered Hillier with questions after the lecture. One of AUBG students, Daria Orlova, said he inspired her. “I am always fascinated by people who don’t bend under the system but make the system bend under them,” she said about him achieving his dreams against all odds. She said Hillier motivated her to “not sit and wait for dreams to come true, but work hard at pursuing them.”

The second day of the AUBG Short Film Fest was devoted to screenings of the latest independent short films produced around the world. At the end of the day attendees were treated with a special screening of the documentary Salam Rugby (Dir. Faramarz Beheshti), the winner of the Best Non-European documentary at ÉCU 2011, about women rugby team in Iran.

The selection of films had been curated by Alexander Acosta Osorio, a senior student at AUBG and the organizer of the AUBG Short Film Fest, as well as ÉCU’s Marketing and Communications Representative for Latin American and the Balkans.

During the third day of the festival attendees could watch a selection of Spanish shorts from DokuFest, films made by students from South Western University “Neofit Rilski”, and a selection of award winning films from ÉCU 2011. Alexander Acosta said he was satisfied with the first edition of the festival but hoped that students would take it even higher next year. As Scott Hillier said during his lecture, “always aim for great.”

written by Ksenia Lukanova
photos from Manol Donchev


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