5 September, Bitola – The jubilee 40th edition of the International Cinematographers’ Film Festival “Manaki Brothers” will have its opening ceremony on 14 September with the new film by Pedro Almodovar – Pain and Glory, the festival director Gena Teodosievska announced at today’s press conference. The cinematographer of the film, Jose Luis Alcaine, who was the laureate of the Golden Camera 300 at the 34th edition of the festival in 2013, will also come to Bitola.

“Together with Blagoja Kunovski – Dore, these last few years we tend to include Bitola more into what is our and your festival, which is a common project celebrating film and which brings us the most interesting and humble people of the film industry. This year, apart from the numerous cinematographers who will come as guests to the festival, we will also have the Spanish cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine, who is a laureate of ours and one of the closest collaborators of Almodovar, and who comes for the opening ceremony film, which was very tough to get and it is my honour that this 40th jubilee edition of the “Manaki Brothers” festival will be opened with the masterpiece by Pedro Almodovar – Pain and Glory. After the official screening, we managed to secure one more screening of the film, which wasn’t easy, but each year we try the citizens of Bitola to have their spot because this is a festival that belongs to them. The larger part of the festival organizing team are from Bitola and I honestly thank them for their resourcefulness and professionalism. I also thank our partners: the McCann agency, ELEM North Macedonia, Tikvesh, Pelisterka, Bozhinovski, Vertigo, Filevi, Neokom and Neotel, Halkbank and Komercijalna banka. We bring many film surprises and experiences, among which is the closing ceremony film – Manaki in Pictures, the new film by Robert Jankuloski. We decided to close the jubilee edition with the ones we devote this festival to, the pioneers who pushed their way into life with their cameras and, in their words: “A shot for me, a shot for the history”, and that is exactly the way it turned out”, Teodosievska said.

Because of the opening of the festival with the Spanish film by Almodovar, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain, Emilio Lorenzo Serra, spoke at the conference as well, pointing out that he’s happy to be in Bitola, the city of consuls and of the Manaki brothers.

“I am really glad that the festival decided to follow the trajectory of the 40-year work of Almodovar and his collaborator and friend Jose Luis Alcaine and to combine it with its own jubilee and choose their film for the opening ceremony. As an ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain, I am proud with Almodovar and I am thankful it celebrates his work because he imposed himself as possibly the most representative director for Spain because he best showed what was happening in the last 40 years since we became a democratic country. Almodovar walked along with the democratic changes, but he also gave criticism to the society with a dose of his specific humor. His films are truly a reflection of modern Spain”, the ambassador Serra said. He added that the example of Spain, which is not an ideal country, is the example for democratic changes towards which the Republic of North Macedonia aims and which awaits its NATO admission and the start of the EU talks. “You go forward only by the way of constructive criticism and that is why the artists and directors like Almodovar are so important for the society”, he said.

Another special guest, besides the famous director Fatih Akin, is also the world renowned Irish playwright, director, scriptwriter and producer Jim Sheridan, who comes to the festival as a representative of the European Film Academy (EFA). He has 6 Oscar nominations and is an author of anthological films in the world cinematography, such as My Left Foot (1989), In the Name of the Father (1994), The Boxer etc.

“A big name such as the one of Jim Sheridan shows what is the attitude of the EFA towards our festival when they send a great author such as Sheridan as their delegate for the 40th edition of the festival”, Blagoja Kunovski – Dore said.

The artistic director and the main program selector Kunovski presented this year’s selection of films in the competition for the Golden, Silver and Bronze Camera 300.

“The times when the world recognizes its civilized reality are, unfortunately, hard as stone from many aspects which give a view of the decadene of humanity. The real authors can’t look over that and hide the truth under the rug. In the Camera 300 selection I naturally had to include more films with such, I’d say, explosive visual dynamics which reflects and upgrades the ideas of the scriptwriters and the directors. And the top of the pleasure of a quality selection in the Camera 300 competition is the masterpiece, in my view the moral winner at Cannes, Pain and Glory”, Kunovski said.

He added that the major part of the cinematographers of the films in the main program will be guests at the festival in Bitola.

He also announced the names of the people of this year’s international jury, which will comprise of Edward Lachman (USA), president, and Nenad Dukic (Serbia), Dominique Velinski (France), Kalojan Bozilov (Bulgaria) and Fejmi Daut (North Macedonia).

Evgenija Bektash Josifovska, councilor for culture at the Municipality of Bitola, pointed out on its behalf that leading up to the start of the “Manaki Brothers”, the Municipality is in constant communication with the relevant stakeholders which are needed to make sure the festival is successful, such as the public enterprises, hotels, the Center for Culture, MDA – all those who participate in the organization of the festival.

“I hope that this year also, the guests of the festival, like the filmmakers, as well as the other guests, will be pleased by our city, will bring back positive experiences and that they will come back again. Bitola is very proud of the existence of a festival of such grandiose, spanning over 40 years and one which will also continue to exist in the future with positive experience”, Josifovska said.

The director of the Center for Culture – Bitola, Maja Andonovska Ilijevski, said that the story of Bitola and the Centre for Culture wouldn’t be complete without the “Manaki Brothers” festival.

“I am happy that we are technically and crew-wise ready to open wide our doors to the 40th edition of the festival. We as a Center for Culture celebrate 39 years of existence this year and we will celebrate many more years together. The cinema at the Center for Culture is the second most-visited one in the country, so as a host of the festival I call all the citizens of Bitola to confirm the reputation of this city as a film-loving one.”

Bistra Georgieva, Head of the Creative Europe Media program, congratulated the festival crew and said that it is a great success to the festival that this European program recognized it and became a partner of the festival. She informed that on this 40th edition of the “Manaki Brothers” festival, on 19 September, the MEDIA Desk MK in collaboration with the MEDIA Desk from Croatia and Hamburg will organize Film Talks on the topic: Success: a jump or a trap?!

“Participants of the talk will be Rainer Klausman, Swiss cinematographer, most known for his tandem work with the German director Fatih Akin; Eleonora Veninova, Macedonian scriptwriter and director, whose last short film The Sign had its premiere in the Quinzaine program at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival; the German director Max Zahle who had his short film Raju nominated for an Oscar in 2011, and the Croatian director and editor Dubravka Turic, whose film Belladonna won the Golden Lion for best short film at the 72nd Venice Film Festival in 2015″, Georgieva said.

Anita Stojchevska informed about the scriptwriting workshop organized as part of the activities in the one-year partnership between the Film Agency of the Republic of North Macedonia and the European program for development of feature-length films with limited budget Less Is More for 2019.

“We are really glad that we will be hosts of the experts of the LIM program and we hope that this program will be of use to our young film authors, as well as stimulate them to create new, quality ideas which have potential to develop into film projects. As a small country with a limited film budget, to think creatively without spending high amounts of finances – by my opinion, once you get this knowledge you will always be one step ahead in your filmmaking skills”, Stojchevska said.

Ana Vasileva introduced a new aspect to the festival: “Inspired by the long-standing cooperation between the European film festivals and the local and regional secondary and primary schools in their vicinity, and at the same time driven by the desire to spread media literacy to the younger generations, and with the support of the Media Program of Creative Europe, this year the “Manaki Brothers” team has signed Memoranda of Cooperation with all the secondary schools in the city of Bitola, and several schools from the region. The youth from these secondary schools will have the chance to visit the festival screenings, especially those films covering topics of interest to them, and talk and exchange opinions and impressions with some of the most established and awarded film professionals, cinematographers, directors and producers from Europe. At the same time, in order to be more visible and more attractive to some of our regular movie-goers, this year we started collaborating with several trade unions on the territory of the Municipality of Bitola which will distribute the tickets to the Manaki Brothers screenings through their networks”, Vasileva said.

Besides the other film programs, the Children program will be held again this year, in partnership with Bimilk, who will organize a creative workshop for the kids.

NOTE: The films in the main program, the biographies of the members of the jury and the biography of Jim Sheridan will be attached to this press release.