Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

Manaki Brothers: Rich Third Festival Day

September 25th, Bitola – We are pleased to inform you that the festival “Manaki Brothers” offers an abundance of content and program today. The start of the Children’s Program at the Cultural Centre in Bitola was marked by a group visit from pupils from several elementary schools in Bitola, who enjoyed the first film from the program.

The guest of today’s press conference was the cinematographer of the film “Spoor”, Jolanta Dylewska, which is part of the official competition. This is her fourth time in the official competition – the first time she participated in the festival program was in 2006 with the film “The Boy on the Galloping Horse”. She has won Golden and Silver Camera 300.

The film “Spoor” is directed by Agnieszka Holland; this is the second collaboration between her and Dylewska. Their first film together was “In Darkness”, recipient of the Golden Camera 300 in 2012.

Jolanta Dylewska is also a director, mostly of documentary films. In her talk she emphasized that the work on the film was not simple:

-We were working with animals and Agnieszka Holland is a director with great visual intelligence, so working with her is a great challenge. – said Dylewska at the press-conference.

ICFF “Manaki Brothers” marked the 70-year jubilee since the formation of “Vardar Film”, which was also an occasion for the screening of the new documentary “It was a Good Film”, produced by MRTV and realized with help from the Macedonian Cinematheque. From the team of the film, present at the press-conference, were Nikola T. Kalajdziski, Sonja Samardzieva and Tomi Aleksov, while Gena Teodosievska, the artistic director of the festival, led the talk.

“It was a Good Film” consisted of interviews with current film professionals from Macedonia, as well as film clips from older archive materials of films and people from the Macedonian film industry.

The author Nikola T. Kalajdziski explained that they entered the project with the director Tomislav Aleksov, with whom they worked on another project before when they decided that it was about time to mark the 70-year anniversary of the formation of “Vardar Film”.

-Our house (MRTV) is obligated to mark the jubilee, to remind us of it. This film came to be from an accidental meeting with my colleague Tomislav Aleksov, with whom I worked on a documentary. He said that 70-years of “Vardar Film” is something we must honor and I accepted to assist with pleasure. That was the way we entered the production of a film which I processed very emotionally. It was a very specific experience, because it was about something that represented pride for all of us, all these 70 years, and something that is now gone. That is why the subtitle of the film is “A Love Story for an Unrequited Love” – said Kalajdziski.

He also added that the screening of the film at the “Manaki Brothers” was experienced very emotionally from the team; her message at the end of the talk was: “Film professionals from Macedonia, please unite!”.

The next block of guests at the press-conference consisted the crew of the film “Black Sun”: the director Dragan Bjelogrlic, co-producer from Macedonia – Tomi Salkovski, director of the episode and the actors Marija Bergam, Jana Stojanovska, Pero Arsovski and Petar Mirchevski.

“Black Sun” is a film series realized as a co-production between Serbia, Macedonia, Russia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will soon be broadcasted on MTV. An episode from the series was screened as part of the festival program.

The author, producer and actor, Dragan Bjelogrlic, explained that the period between the two world wars was challenging for him; for the story of the film he worked with historians in order to find more about the roads of the opium mafia that operated on these territories. According to him it was precisely the period between the two world wars when the events which will define the rest of the 20th century unfolded.  

-I worked with historians – one of them consulted me on the Russian theme, the other one on the Balkan opium routes and the third one on VMRO, the professor Zhezhov from Macedonia. Exploring this period, I came upon several interesting stories, on the Imperial Russian Army which functioned as its own paramilitary formation within SCS (State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs) – said Bjelogrlic.

The actor Petar Atanasovski said that although he was hesitant whether to accept the offer for the film, after the meeting with Bjelogrlic he immediately found a common tongue with him, while his way of work left a good impression on him.

-Dragan Bjelogrlic’s participation in the whole process of the film, as a director, as well as in the casting proves that it’s not wrong to have all the control in your hands, succeeding in the creation of a harmonious team, where every one of us felt as part of the team, but also as if he or she is importing their own authorial, individual contribution in the film – said Arsovski.

Igor Ivanov – Izi, who is a director of the eight episode of the series, explained that for him the work on the film was an interesting experience, because he was not on the top of the creative hierarchy.

-This is a project in which I am not at the top of the creative hierarchy, because series are made that way. For me this was interesting because a man enters the project manneristically after certain esthetical parameters set by someone else. It was really great, because you can see the “chess match” from the side and it gives you different creative opportunities – said Ivanov.

He also added that Bjelogrlic as a director is following the trends, which is very significant.

-What was most important for me is that Dragan Bjelogrlic doesn’t follow blindly the trends of the genre he is working in, the historical thriller, which is absolutely modern. What was most fascinating for me was the fact that this man has a sense for the public he is addressing, which is very rare. With that I don’t think of the research done by the big distribution companies from the West – I think more on the level of talent and intuition. The way I see it, that sense comes from the anachronistic and eclectic esthetics which Bjelogrlic uses in this series – says Ivanov.

The cinematographer Ivan Kostic wasn’t present at the press-conference, but Bjelogrlic said that he was very pleased from his work.

-I am sorry that the director of photography, Ivan Kostic, is not present. This is his first solo work. Before this film, he worked as an assistant to the director of photography in my film “Montevideo”. I noticed that the man has a special eye with which he sees things and he was suggesting pretty interesting and unusual, but consistent shots – explained Bjelogrlic.

The actors Petar Arsovski, Jana Stojanovska and Marija Bargam expressed their gratitude for receiving the opportunity to work with such a professional crew.

Honoring the great Italian master of cinematography, Giuseppe Rotunno, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award “Golden Camera 300” at the 38th edition of ICFF “Manaki Brothers”, Luca Coassin, a former student of Rotunno and a current jury member of the main competition, held a masterclass in the Small Hall of the Cultural Center in Bitola.

Through several documentary photographs and highlights from his films, Coassin uncovered the secrets of the character and the craftsmanship of one of the most important Italian masters of cinematography, Giuseppe Rotunno, mainly talking about his work with the legendary Luchino Visconti and Federico Fellini. He also uncovered details about the work with the directors Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Bob Fosse, the actors Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Alain Delon and many others. 

Speaking about Rotunno’s character, as a student and as a friend, Coassin revealed that Rotunno looks like a child even at 90 years old, but when on set he was always full with authority and the crew was very respectful towards him with a certain dose of fear. Recalling his student days, Coassin remembered what Rotunno taught them about the camera being in the service of the story and the script, while he put all his knowledge and experience in the function of a more detailed rendering of the film story and the portrayal of the characters’ personalities. Coassin emphasized that Rotunno is a master of the close up, but that his shots contain plans that carry several actions simultaneously.

Today’s films from the main competition are the films “Frog” and “In the Fade”, part of the official competition for the “Golden Camera 300”.