Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

The European cinematography star Agnes Godard presented at the “Manaki Brothers” festival

September 29, Bitola – It is our pleasure to inform you that today the “Manaki Brothers” festival was a host of top cinematographers from Russia, Hungary, as well as the French cinematography star Agnes Godard. The book about the Manaki brothers was also presented, which has been done by Robert Jankuloski after many years of research of the Bitola archive.

Daniil Fomichev, the man behind the camera of the Russian film “How Viktor Garlic Took Alexey the Stud to the Nursing Home”, spoke of the work with director Alexander Hant, as well as for which film scripts it is harder to pass with the Russian production companies.

-I and Alexey know each other since the time we were students, when we worked on film exercises. We were later shooting some music videos and here we are with our first feature film together. Alexey has two diplomas – he first studied cinematography, then directing – says Fomichev.

In terms of the film aesthetics, done in bold colors, though with a rather sad theme, Fomichev explained that their purpose was to freshen up the grayness of the atmosphere and the filming conditions, so they turned up the intensity of the colors in the post-production process.

-To achieve the drama and to capture the character of the characters, we set them up quite close to the camera and we film with wide-angle lenses – says Fomichev.

He pointed out that the director’s idea was primarily to shoot a film of the prisons, but no production company wasn’t granting them the finances for such a scenario. At the end, they simply gave him the done script for this film, which works on a more universal subject of a father who has been absent from his child’s life so to return later. The director accepted to film according to this script and that is how the film “How Victor Garlic Took Alexey the Stud to the Nursing Home” came to be.

One of the stars of the 38th edition of the “Manaki Brothers” festival is the French cinematographer Agnes Godard, who in 2013 won the Golden Camera 300 for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema Art. Exactly that visit of Bitola, after which she did a tour of Macedonia, inspired her to work on a film shot in our country.

Hence, the collaboration with the director Teona Strugar Mitevska resulted in the appearance of the film “When the Day Had no Name”, which will be screened tonight at the festival. Agnes Godard is in this year’s festival program with two films as a cinematographer, and her second film “Let the Sunshine in”, directed by Claire Denis, with Juliette Binoche in the main role, will close this edition of “Manaki Bothers” tomorrow evening.

Agnes Godard collaborates with the director Claire Denis for thirty years now, and the secret to this long-lasting collaboration lays in the overlap of their aesthetic preferences.

-When I graduated from university, I shot a short film in honor of my father, who passed away very early. Claire saw that film and offered me to work with her. We have been working together for 30 years since then. The success to our collaboration is in the fact that our meetings are generally at the sets, we don’t analyze our work too much nor our mutual collaboration relation, our feel of aesthetic simply overlaps – says Godard.

In terms of the collaboration with Teona Mitevska on the film “When the Day Had no Name”, Godard explained that she had a wish to film in these regions long time ago.

-My grandfather, in a series of circumstances, had been in this region during WWI. I saw Macedonia for the first time when I came to “Manaki Brothers” in 2013. When Teona Mitevska sent me the script, I was immediately won over by the subject of the life of Macedonian teenagers. Since I am part of an older generation, I was happy that I will have the chance to meet people from a different part of the world, with a different culture and at a different age – says Godard.

In terms of the problems she was facing during the shooting, she pointed out that they were essentially just challenges that they overcame in a creative manner.

-Though it was a deal to speak in English during the filming, everyone started talking in Macedonian whilst working and I didn’t understand a thing. But, after a while, I understood that, in fact, we have a universal visual language through which we understood each other, the language of film art. In terms of the budget, the challenges of the cinematographers to work on a smaller budget are the same both in France and Macedonia. On the other hand, due to working on a smaller budget, we get ideas we would never get if working under more comfortable conditions. I enjoyed finding new ways to work with the given tools – said Godard.

She also explained that she had picked a more naturalist approach in the filming, which she thinks had captured the spirit of the film. The work with younger directors is something that pushes her forward and motivates her to constantly search for new ways of work.

Though she could stay in Bitola for a short while this time, Agnes Godard was more than happy that she came to honor the Macedonian premiere of the film.

The Hungarian film “On Body and Soul” from the main competition wowed the people of Bitola last night and they talked about it long after the screening. The film is a recipient of a “Golden Bear” in Berlin, and it will be part of the Foreign Language Film competition program at the Oscars 2018. The cinematographer Mate Herbai talked about the creative process at today’s press conference.

-Ildiko Eniedi is my favorite Hungarian director and shooting a film with her was a dream come true for me. She helped me a lot during the shooting and she gave me unreserved support. Working with her is simply perfect. I collaborated with her for the first time on the series “Therapy” which was shown on HBO, and after that series she offered me to work with her – says Mate Herbai.

The Hungarian cinematography attracts attention and positive remarks years back, so Mate Herbai only confirmed that it is a privilege to be a cinematographer in Hungary.

-The state of film in Hungary is very good. The Hungarian Film Fund has a great working system and I think that the cinematographers in Hungary have great working possibilities – says Herbai.

The promoting of the book about the brother Janaki and Milton Manaki by Robert  Jankuloski also took place today at the festival. The documentary, directed also by Robert  Jankuloski, was screened last night as well, and it talks about the photos of the Manaki brothers.

The filmologist Igor Stardelov from the Cinematheque of Macedonia, who did the promotion of the book, said that he was overjoyed that someone finally undertook a research of the photos of the Manaki brothers.

-At the Archive of Macedonia, the regional department of Bitola, there are thousands of negatives from photos that no one had looked at so far. Robert undertook the painstaking task to digitalize and save the negatives from the glass plates. That means that they are now digitalized and saved. I am overjoyed that the process of digitalization of the other materials continued in the archive as well – said Stardelov.

He also pointed out that the significant step made by  Jankuloski in researching the work of the Manaki brothers is the analyzing of the aesthetic value of the brothers’ photos as well.

Aco Kimovski, from the Bitola department of the State Archive of Macedonia, pointed out that the work of  Jankuloski motivated them to continue to digitalize the rest of the materials to be found at the archive.

 Jankuloski says that Bitola is foremost a photography city, and it is a film city afterwards.

-Bitola is more of a photography city than a film city, I hope that in the future there will be a book for every photographer from this city, as Papakoch, Pinza, and many others. Some of them had worked even before the Manaki brothers – says  Jankuloski.

At yesterday’s student program, at the Magaza in Bitola, the film students had the opportunity to talk to Michele de Angelis, the director of “Case Study: The Man in the Movie Camera”. Michele held a quite interesting lecture about film from a more philosophical aspect and the relations between film and reality.

Tonight, the film “When the Day Had no Name”, directed by Teona Strugar Mitevska, will be in the program of Manaki, as part of the main competition. It will be followed by the film “The Party” by director Sally Potter.

Tomorrow evening, with the rewarding of Milcho Manchevski with the Special Golden Camera 300 for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema Art and with the award ceremony for the recepients of the Golden, Silver and Bronze Camera 300, as well as the screening of the film “Let the Sunshine in”, this year’s ICFF “Manaki Brothers” will be done.


Honoring Milton Manaki

The delegations of the ICFF “Manaki Brothers”, the Vlach community in Bitola and the city of Bitola, laid flowers at the grave of Milton Manaki today.

The president of this year’s jury at the festival, the Norwegian cinematographer Paul Rene Roestad, who is also the president of the Association of Cinematographers IMAGO, said that he is honored to be part of the delegation at “Manaki Brothers”. The delegation was also consisted of Gena Teodosievska, artistic director at “Manaki Brothers”, and a member of the jury, the Italian cinematographer Luca Coassin. Teodosievska pointed out that the “Manaki Brothers” festival, as in the past decades, cherishes the tradition of honoring Milton Manaki.

Stefan Hadji-Andonovski, president of the amateur cinema club “Studio Milton Manaki” and member of the Vlach community of Bitola, shortly reminded the people present there of the life and work of the first Balkan cameraman. He also pointed out that the Bitola cinema club hosts a commemoration with an appropriate program every year on March 5 (the day of the death of Manaki). The cinema club also organizes the festival called “Camera 300”.

The representatives of the festival, the Vlach community and the city cherish this tradition of remembering of the first film cameraman in the Balkans. The members of the Vlach community take care of maintaining the grave of Milton Manaki (1880-1964) at the Vlach (or Aromanian) cemetery in Bitola. On the other hand, Janaki Manaki died in Solun and he is buried there.