AU to host one-day film festival featuring award-winning Bulgarian filmmaker Niki Iliev

Saturday's film festival will take place at the brand-new Malsi Doyle and Michael Forman Theater in the McKinley building of American University.

Saturday’s film festival will take place at the new Malsi Doyle and Michael Forman Theater in the McKinley building of American University. Photo by Pablo Roa.

WASHINGTON — The American University School of Communication, along with the Bulgarian Embassy and the Bulgarian Community Center in Washington, will host a one-day film festival featuring Bulgarian filmmaker Niki Iliev Saturday June 28. The 4 1/2 hour event will take place at the Malsi Doyle and Michael Forman Theater in the McKinley Building of American University.

Iliev, 33, graduated from The New Bulgarian University in Ovcha Kupel, Bulgaria, with a degree in film directing, but decided to begin his career as an actor. Since 2003, however, Iliev has directed several short films and movies, including his award-winning 2012 film, The Foreigner, which will be screened at the festival. The festival will also feature a screening of Iliev’s 2014 film, Living Legendsas well as an opportunity for visitors to meet Iliev.

Saturday’s festival is part of a program in which the university contacts a different embassy every month and then, in coordination with the embassy, screens a movie from that country. The festivals usually attract 50-70 visitors, but the theater — which opened earlier this year — can hold as many as 140.

“So far, our events have been very successful,” said Don Michael Mendoza, strategic programs and events coordinator. “It’s a great opportunity to see our brand-new facilities and, educationally, it’s a great thing to do as well.”

The festivals are also part of a partnership between the university and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The Gallery would normally host the festivals but it is under renovation for the next two years, making the Forman Theater at American University the temporary venue.

The goal of the festivals, Mendoza said, is to make the theater a well-known, premier venue in Washington and to take advantage of strong relationships with the embassies to give people a multinational experience by introducing them to new things.

“We’re trying to bring up current topics, as well as topics that are not commonly discussed, all with the goal of exposing people to new cultures,” Mendoza said.

Kalina Simeonova, a 17-year-old D.C.-area resident of Bulgarian descent, believes Saturday’s film festival will not only help introduce others to Bulgarian culture, but will also help Bulgarians who have lived in the U.S. for a long time better connect with their own culture and with the cultures of those who attend the festival.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to get educated about different cultures and societies,” Simeonova said. “I, for one, would consider going to the festival to learn more about my own culture. I would also recommend other Bulgarians to go so they can meet new people and become less isolated.”