First Films First


At the Sofia Meetings workshop, the FFF will be joined by two new, great tutors: Manfred Schmidt, the former CEO of German regional fund MDM, and Mira Staleva, Head of Sofia Meetings.


Mira Staleva was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. After finishing her education in theology and psychology, she joined the team of Sofia International Film Festival from the very beginning. She is now the Deputy Director of Sofia IFF and Head of the festival\’s co-production market Sofia Meetings, and programmer for the festival. She is also a part of Art Fest, a production, distribution and exhibition company based in Sofia.

Staleva is a member of the European Film Academy and the LUX Prize selection board.


Manfred Schmidt is a film industry expert, best known as a long-time CEO (1998-2016) of the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM), one of Germany\’s strongest film funds.

From 1969 to 1981 he was a member of the Berlin “Maxim Gorki” Theatre. This followed a seven-year period of free-lance work as author and dramatic adviser. Within this time, Schmidt has taken correspondent courses at the Leipzig Institute for Literature. In 1988, he started working as script analyst and author at DEFA studios for documentary films; from 1990 to 1992 he was the deputy chief editor at this studio. Before being appointed as the CEO of MDM, he worked as deputy programme director of the culture and science department at the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk (MDR) broadcasting station from 1992 to 1998.

Schmidt is a member of the European Film Academy, Kuratorium Förderverein Deutscher Kinderfilm e.V.,  Member Advisory Board of Script EAST and Advisory Board of the Sam Spiegel International Film Lab Jerusalem and Member Expert Committee of IDM Filmfund South Tyrol.

Throughout his career, Schmidt has been working and advising extensively with Balkan film funds, production companies, distributors and festivals.

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