The shot of a crying teenage girl clutching a helmeted police officer during a rally in Sofia went viral on Facebook after it was published in November.
It was among hundreds of pictures taken by photography student Stefan Stefanov, 25, while covering the anti-government protests as an intern for a Bulgarian daily.
He was paid 25 euros for the picture and happy with the Facebook exposure, thought that would be the end of the story.
But a company working for the US movie, starring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and Brenton Thwaite, contacted him with an offer to buy the shot. “The Giver” came out in the US in August and across Europe this month.
“They came upon the picture by chance while looking for an illustration of courage,” Stefanov told AFP on Friday. “Their choice surprised and flattered me enormously.”
He did not disclose how much they had paid, other than it was much bigger than the initial 25 euros.
Stefanov’s picture caught a tearful 16-year-old Dessy Nikolova thanking a police officer. “I did not know the girl but I had seen her emotional reactions during previous rallies,” he said, adding he only met Nikolova after the shot went viral.
Bulgaria has seen recurrent street protests for almost two years over widespread corruption and cronyism and sluggish economic growth in the European Union’s poorest country that has fed mistrust in politicians.
Based on a 1993 novel of the same name, “The Giver” tells the story of a utopian community in the year 2048 with no memories of the past, where a young boy is chosen to learn the pains and pleasures of the bygone ‘real’ world.