Bulgaria to Host International Drone Film Festival

As drone photography continues its rise into mainstream media, drone film festivals are popping up all over the world. The general idea is that like-minded drone enthusiasts get together to celebrate aerial photography, learn from each other, and discover new industry trends.

On August the 19th and the 20th, Plovdiv, Bulgaria will host DroneUp’s first ever International Film Festival. Centred in the city’s famous Roman stadium,  the festival will host filmmakers from around the world as they present their best work in front of a live audience and compete for prizes.

Plovdiv bulgaria festival

The festival will be free to enter in Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city. Shaped by an 8,000 year old history, the area is distinguished as Europe’s oldest inhabited city and will be a European capital of culture in 2019.

Cash prizes of more than € 10.000 are up for grabs for the best entries. If you’re interested in submitting photography to be judged under the following categories, visit the submission site here.

DroneUp will be presenting the best of drone cinema in the following six categories:

  • Nature
  • Urban
  • Culture & Sport
  • Travel
  • Extreme & Wild
  • Narrative & Cinematic

So far filmmakers from 27 countries worldwide will be attending the event. One of DroneUp’s main goals is to raise awareness of drones and their use in creative fields. To help ease everyday consumers’ uncertainty surrounding the safety and legality of drone technology, the weekend will be open and accessible to all, highlighting the cinematic potential of an eye in the sky.

Speaking exclusively to DroneLife, Romain Pennel, marketing manager of the DroneUp International Film Festival, told us a little more about the city of Plovdiv, the rise in aerial photography, and what drone enthusiasts can expect from the festival.

It’s clear that the festival is the start of something big for this part of Bulgaria. “The municipality in Plovdiv is supporting the festival, which is also part of the program of ‘Plovdiv European Capital of Culture’ for 2019,” said Pennel. “We’re developing and expanding the festival gradually from this year and on to 2019, where it will reach its full capacity. Additionally, The festival is funded through the collaboration with several drone companies. We are happy to work with start-ups within the drone industry bringing innovations for the drone users. We’re also in current negotiation with larger sized companies, both international and Bulgarian”.

Plovdiv bulgaria drone festival

Plovdiv – not a bad location for a drone film festival

So what is the appeal for drone enthusiasts? Well, apart from enjoying the atmosphere in a charming part of the world, “the drone films will be shortlisted by an Oscar-nominated jury and then screened in front of a live audience, in a beautiful, open-air historic venue”, said Pennel.

“The whole event is free of charge so we can make aerial cinematography as accessible as possible. We forecast more than 3000 people coming during the festival, and we believe that this would be the perfect setting for the filmmakers to show their work to the world.”

I asked Romain Pennel about the inspiration behind setting up a drone photography festival in this ancient part of Bulgaria. He said, “We loved the idea of organizing a drone film festival in one of the oldest still-inhabited cities in the world. We wanted to merge ancient history with the innovative aerial cinematography. Plovdiv is more than 8 000 years old, but it’s much more than winding cobbled streets. It’s a dynamic and lively city with a hip and bustling art scene. The festival and its context of presenting a new and original view of our world will fit perfectly with Plovdiv as the cultural and creative heart of Bulgaria.”

So what can visitors expect from the first ever DroneUp International Film Festival? According to Pennel, “there will be a public celebration of drone cinematography, which will also incorporate numerous other art forms, including music and dance. We also want to pay homage to the rich traditions of our host country and city. For this we’re organizing a pretty interesting opening event, which will feature a drone-led flash mob with performances by local dancers, singers and musicians. The live film screenings are nevertheless the core of DroneUp IFF.”

“We’re proud to see that the level of entries for this year’s festival is very high and are delighted that pilots from more than 30 countries from around the world have taken part so far. Our submission closes July 8th and we’d like to invite all filmmakers to take part in the festival by submitting their drone films.”


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