August 8, Bitola – At today’s fourth press conference devoted to the 40th jubilee edition of the International Cinematographers’ Film Festival, the president of the Macedonian Film Professionals’ Association, Igor Ivanov – Izi announced that the composer LjupchoKonstantinov is this year’s recipient of the “Great Star of Macedonian Cinema” Award, presented by the MFPA. The award will be presented to Konstantinov at the “Manaki Brothers” festival.

“Established in 2013, this award is made up as an accolade for exceptional contribution to Macedonian film and the criteria is raised so high from the very start that it really isn’t easy to find a candidate and a suiting laureate, even though there certainly always are such people among us, and to maintain to that level. The recipients of the award so far include KirilCenevski, the great legend of Macedonian film, then MilchoManchevski, followed by DarkoMarkovik, then Simon Perry — the MFPA made the decision to present the award to the famous British producer that year, as he is the person behind the film Before the Rain, the biggest Macedonian cinematic success of all times. Last year, the award was given to MilicaStojanova, making an exception of not giving the award to a star shining behind the silver screen, but a star shining on the silver screen itself and a person who might not have had many main roles in films, but someone who has left an outstanding mark in our entire cinematography. And the fact why she may have not had so many big roles in cinema is because such was the position of the woman in the whole Balkan cinematography.

This year was also exceptionally tough to come to the right name of the person who will be presented with this award. There were very few propositions, and there were both ‘for’ and ‘against’ arguments about which of the proposed people should be awarded this year, and who we might wait a year or two for, up until this one name was proposed and there were no more dilemmas among any of the members of the MFPA.

This is one exceptional person in the Macedonian cinematography, a man who painted films like Happy New Year ’49 and Tattoo in a special color, films which were exceptionally loved by the Macedonian audience all these years. Moreover, he has collaborated with many extraordinary names, to mention a few: Paolo Magelli, TomažPandur, Mustafa Nadarevic, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Ciulli, OzrenProhic, as well as BrankoGapo, DimitrieOsmanli, Stole Popov, Antonio Mitrikeski. He has put his signature on more than 35 pieces of film scores and is now the recipient of the “Big Star of Macedonian Film” for 2019 – LjupchoKonstantinov. This man was shining, had an extraordinary career and, as every great artist, just disappeared at one point. There was not much we could hear about him. But now, at 76, he came back big and continually works, mainly abroad, in Italy, Croatia, a little bit in Macedonia and is back again working in the theater, TV and film stages”, Ivanov said.

Today, the press and the attendees had the opportunity to watch the premiere of the video made for this important anniversary of the festival, directed by Dina Duma, the cinematographer is NaumDoksevski, featuring actress Natasha Petrovik, and which had a big crew on board for its making. This year’s motto of the “Manaki Brothers” is “Tell the Clouds”.

The Mayor of Bitola, Natasha Petrovska, also spoke at the press conference, pointing out that the “Manaki Bothers” Festival is significant not only because it enriches the cultural life of Bitola, but it also puts an additional value of recognition internationally.

“This year, the Municipality of Bitola supported the festival in terms of organization with 400.000 denars, but also in the area of accommodation capacity for our guests in the amount of about 2.5 million denars, which means that the financial support for this year’s edition of the “Manaki Brothers” Festival from the Municipality of Bitola totals around 3 million denars. The thing I also want to point out is that this year the Municipality of Bitola managed to receive funds in the amount of 8.6 million denars from the Ministry for Culture for interior equipment of the Manaki cinema which was started in 2013, which together with the project Cinema Culture we succeeded in getting aCross-border Cooperation project with Greece, in order to have a function whole from this facility. And this would be an added value during the festival days and, hosting some of the events that are happening on this significant festival for us. I am also convinced that in the years to come the municipality will also contribute for Bitola to stay recognizable for this festival”, Petrovska said.

The director Teodosievska also informed the attendees that the world renowned director Fatih Akin and the cinematographer Rainer Klausmann will be present at this year’s festival edition in Bitola as special guests.

Akin is a winner of awards such as the Golden Bear in Berlin (2004) and the Golden Globe for the Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language (2017). His films are exceptionally famous and loved by the Macedonian audience.

The festival program selectors gave information about the titles that the audience in Bitola will get to watch this year.

BlagojaKunovski – Dore, Festival Artistic Director and programmer of the Official Competition, revealed only four titles from this year’s competition of films whose cinematographers will fight for the prestigious awards.

“According to the tradition, the main competition – Camera 300 for this jubilee edition was also focused on the leading festivals. The 12 films in the running for the Golden, Silver and Bronze Camera 300 were selected from three festivals. Seven are from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, three are from the Berlin Film Festival, and two from the festival in Karlovy Vary. The numbers suggest that the Cannes Film Festival, according to an unwritten rule, offered the most films which are interesting in their authors’ dealing with subjects and much of them are current in plot subjects and expressed cinematography qualities for our competition. My principle is that I don’t guide myself by whether or not certain films are laureates of these festivals, but whether they complement with my affinities, and then I confirm those films for our competition as well. I will right away unveil that the winner at Cannes wasn’t my cup of tea, but that is why, based on my criteria, I chose the three factually best ones in the competition, one of which is the moral winner of the Golden Palm. When you see them, you will understand that”, Kunovski said.

As a sneak-peak for the audience, he unveiled only four attractive titles from the main program: the first one is the Chinese film The Wild Goose Lake. Kunovski said that it is a terrifying chronicle of the contemporary Chinese society, with the gangster underground, which is the prize of “progress”.

“The second film from the always attractive program of the Cannes Film Festival – Un Certain Regard, is the Brazilian film The Invisible Life of EuridiceGusman, a drama about two sisters tragically separated through the period of a few decades, in an effective direction by Karim Aïnouz, with the visually stunning mastery of one of the leading French cinematographers Helene Louvart. We also have the winner of the Golden Bear in Berlin, which as a decision of the jury in Berlin I only affirmed and I agree with that choice, unlike the Cannes Palme d’Or, and it is the Israeli film Synonimesby the director NadavLapid, an internal psycho-explosion of a young Israeli, who, running away from his identity, settles down in Paris, and the cinematographer Shai Goldman follows his urban odyssey like a visual witness. From the festival in Karlovy Vary I will now unveil the film from the main program, by me one of the three best ones, and that is the German film Lara of the director Jan-Ole Gerster, in which the discovery of the “Manaki Brothers” festival, now an experienced leading German cinematographer Frank Griebe brings closer to us the intimate moral-psychological drama of the mother Lara”, Kunovski said.

He also added that the cinematographer Frank Griebe will be among the guests in Bitola this year.

The selector of the European Cinema Perspectives program, SlagjanPenev, said that the program includes 17 films.

“These are film products which we included in the program primarily for the great stories they tell, but also the strong author signature these generally debut or second-time films for the directors, bring with themselves. Of course, apart from the story, a very important aspect in the selection was also the cinematography aspect, understandably because of the status this film component has in our festival. And finally, but not less importantly, we tried to include as many burning social subjects from contemporary life as we could – poverty, marginalized people, violence towards women and migrants (minority ethnic and religious groups), which actually confirm the current status of some of the most discussed ethical dilemmas in the European societies”, Penev said.

More than half of these films are produced in the countries of Southeast Europe, or the wider Balkan region.

“We will generally see drama films and sad stories, but also some joyful subject here and there and surrealistic humor, even bizarre toying with the film art itself”, Penev said.

Ana Vasilevska, the selector for the Macedonian films selection announced that from this year at the “Manaki Brothers” festival, an audience award for the best Macedonian film is established. And the Makpoint program will offer 14 new short, documentary and animated films, for which this year, for the first time the festival audience will be an honest juror of the creative work, acting, camera, music, i.e. it will be able to have its say in its total film favorite.

“The genre and subject diversity, which oscillates from ultra-urban and modern stories to those which grab onto traditional or intriguing subjects from the current society situation, will provide us with a clear vision of where the authors are heading and will takes us on a journey through their sensibility approach”, Vasilevska said.

She added that the last film of the recently late Stefan Sidovski – Sido, The Last Coffee, will have its premiere screening in this festival program.

The selector of the student program, GjorgjiPulevski said that this year the program will last longer than usual, from 15-20 September, and will be held in the Small Hall of the Center for Culture in Bitola.

“The student corner at the 40th jubilee edition of the ICFF “Manaki Brothers”, like last year, will also keep the record number of invited academies and guests this year. Fifteen film academies and their students from Macedonia and the region will make up the program for which the “Manaki Brothers” festival shows serious commitment and honesty. And after the screening of the films, the program is additionally enriched with short formal and informal discussions”, Pulevski said.

He added that three workshops will take place in the Student program: one for film music with AleksandarTrajkovski, second one with filmmakers from Finland, and the most exciting one for the students – a workshop with one of the recipients of a Golden Camera 300.

GenaTeodosievska, who is also a selector for the Documentary program for many years, presenting her choice of 10 films for this year said that the world is turned into a battlefield of illusions and fake news, a parade of vanities and crumbling values, broken promises and long expectations of the impossible.

“That is why the documentary film is important, because it excludes the bias and “pours out” before us the real condition of a man, a woman, a child, a scientist, a father, a nation, a whole universe. That is why the documentary film is so fascinating, so terribly important; among other things, we have the chance to look the beast in the eye through it, and not only that, the generations to come expect from us to destroy it, to beat it. That is why the audience and the documentary film authors understand each other. Their interactions complement each other, the filmmakers react, the audience finds out the truth. For the documentary program of this very special edition by many things for me, I selected 10 documentary films which are a small picture of the world. I expect you to check out their exceptionality, because one of them will take home the prize of the city in which the two brothers Janaki and Milton Manaki worked with their Camera 300″, Teodosievska said.

The 40th edition of the ICFF “Manaki Brothers” will be held from 14-21 September in Bitola.