ASTRA FILM FESTIVAL Sibiu (AFF Sibiu), is well-established Romanian International Documentary Film Festival, dedicated to creative documentary from Central and Eastern Europe, has started in 1993 and is currently the oldest international festival runing in Romania.
In its nearly 20 years of existence, AFF Sibiu has become an acknowledged cultural brand in Romania and abroad. It has received The Civil Society Award for the Best Cultural Event in Romania. Through its competition, the quality of the films presented, its professional programmes and workshops, the festival is considered to be the most important forum of documentary film in Romania.
The Astra Film Festival Sibiu is a celebration of documentary cinema, where both professional and wide audiences can view films and discuss them with those who make them. At AFF, the accent is on the screening of the films and the discussions accompanying them. These screening events are not conceived to be a side events to commercial activities regarding the production of documentary films – (pitching sessions and film sales).
The AFF Sibiu is known as a place where documentary films are watched and debated, where the films have a long archive life, and the documentaries entered in the festival selection – even if they are not chosen to be presented– are promoted in many ways: online (through the web catalogue) and in theme programme screenings (The Astra Film Cinematheque).
The Astra Film Festival Sibiu started at the beginning of the 1990s as an anthropological and ethnographic film festival. Throughout the years, it has grown into a creative documentary festival, a reference point for professionals and academics, as well as for the wide audience.
AFF Sibiu was selected to receive financial support by the European Union, through Media Desk funding. In 2009, only forty-three out of the hundreds of European festivals received funding, and AFF was one of the four documentary film festivals selected.
AFF Sibiu has also distinguished itself through its excellent organization and the interactive atmosphere that attracts a young audience, not just from Romania but from the neighbouring countries as well. It has been invited as an independent cultural event in Paris (Jean Rouch International Film Festival 2008), Poland (Krakow, Poznań), Novosibirsk (Siberia). Recently inspired by AFF Sibiu an entirelly new festival has grown out London Open City Documentary Film Festival.
AFF is Sibiu’s film festival. Its existence and results have been a thump card in applying for the position of “Sibiu – European Capital of Culture” in 2007. The special edition of Astra Film Festival has been organized. As part of this edition the Astra Film Cinematheque was the only cultural program taking place daily throughout the whole year, and the festival in the autumn of 2007 was one of the major events of the “Sibiu – European Capital of Culture” program.
For the past ten editions of AFF Sibiu , through the festival’s Portrait programme, the world’s greatest documentary filmmakers have honoured the festival with their presence: John Marshall (USA), David MacDougall (Australia), Robert Gardner (USA), Kim Longinotto (UK), Michael Yorke (UK), Mircea Săucan (Romania-Israel), Leonard Retel Helmrich (Holland), Bob Conolly (Australia). As well as others in whose work is related to documentary cinema, as jury members: Thierry Garrel (France), Cristi Puiu (Romania), Michael Stewart (UK), Mark Soosar (Estonia), Andrei Shemyakin (Russia), Pavel Pawlikowski (UK), Kaori Sakagami (Japan), Renate Roginas (Germany), Dan Alexe (Belgium), Sorin Botoşeneanu (Romania), Antonio Delgado Liz (Spain). The Astra Film awards are recognized as a prestigious professional prize, help the awarded directors when they pursue their new film projects.
The Astra Film Festival Sibiu is organized by ASTRA FILM – Centre for Documentary, Anthropological Research and Visual Education, a department of CNM Astra, and the Astra Film Foundation.
The founding director of AFF Sibiu is Dumitru Budrala, programing director is Csilla Kató. Throughout the years, the team formed by Dumitru Budrala and the festival management committee members from previous editions (Adina Vărgatu and Simona Bealcovski) – as well as all the colleagues and associates of Astra Film, have ensured this festival’s success.