Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

Claudia Cardinale: I didn’t stay in America because Hollywood is very manipulative

September 23, Bitola – The festival day in Bitola started today with a press-conference of the team that worked on the film The Lover, which was screened last night at the opening ceremony of the festival.

“A great little film with a big idea – The Lover had its world and Macedonian premiere, but after this it will certainly be presented at other festivals as well. The festival atmosphere today had a lift by a good feeling of having a world premiere of a beautiful film, whose producers will take it to some of the world-renowned festivals as soon as possible because it will certainly touch the hearts of the wider audience with its universality and language, as it has a nostalgic, homage-like turn on what the good old film once was and what some kind of recent view of film means, with all the technological links of processes to make a work of this kind”, Blagoja Kunovski – Dore said, presenting the film.

At the meet-and-greet with the reporters, the director and script writer Igor Ivanov – Izi was present, as well as cinematographers Dejan Dimeski and Tomi Salkovski, and the actors Natalija Teodosieva and Sasho Petrovski.

The director and script writer Igor Ivanov spoke on the idea of filming The Lover.

“This is a little older idea. We wanted to make this film for quite some time. The script was written down since 2009. I wrote it in one go, this idea came out of somewhere and we were thinking with Tomi that it is best to make it with the Manaki brothers’ camera. What we wanted to do is to make a post-modern act and for it not to be only a film in itself, but to be something that is attached to the film as a PR thing, something that has to do with the public and for it to function as a piece of work in that way. For this idea to be complete, we wanted to repair the Manaki brothers’ camera, we were even coming here in Bitola with Tomi and with the respected Dragan Salkovski, who was inspecting the camera, checking if it’s fine, in what condition are the gears, the 16mm lens etc. We wanted to do all that and to shoot the film with that camera, but it didn’t happen because of budget limitations. Since that process really cannot fit into a short film’s budget and thinking of what is to be done onward, Tomi asked if we would apply with this film again, I agreed, the Film Agency gave the finances and we shot this film with a standard contemporary technique, with an ARRI ALEXA camera. We wanted to make one thing, another thing came out as the product, yet the destination for this film was clearly always the Manaki festival. We’ve always had the idea of promoting it here and I am very glad that it happened yesterday, 9 years after the initial idea”, Ivanov – Izi said.

The cinematographer and producer of the film, Tomi Salkovski, spoke about the collaboration with Dragan Salkovski and the idea to film with the Manaki brothers’ camera.

“The whole idea of the film to be shot with the camera of the Manaki brothers was feasible, but still way too expensive. We had a lot of talk with Magyar Film, we got some quite favorable conditions, but at this moment, less and less work is done on a filmstrip. The whole process is quite more expensive, especially for these smaller films, which are a kind of exhibition. We wanted to work with something old, something that is in an archive. Here, during the festival, the camera is displayed as an exhibit, and we wanted to repair it, though that is not easy and it brings more additional expenses, but I think that it should be done in the future. This can be an initiative for this camera to be repaired and brought back to function because it is not only our Macedonian, but also a piece of Balkan history for the beginnings of cinematography”, Tomi Salkovski pointed out.

“As we were filming with an ARRI ALEXA camera, we decided to make it all like a game, to make a project together with Izi, Dejan and Salko. It was very interesting and quite easy from the cinematographer’s point of view, compared to the primary idea and the task we had come up with, Tomi Salkovski concluded.

He gave his gratitude to the Macedonian Film Agency, the Manaki Brothers Festival for screening this film at the opening ceremony and pointed out that he hopes of an international success for the film, even though it is not specific in itself.

Dejan Dimeski won last year’s Bronze Camera 300 for the film Frog, and this year he is one of the three cinematographers of the film The Lover. He looked back on the collaboration with Dragan Salkovski, a Macedonian cinematography veteran, who passes on his experience to the younger generations with pleasure, and the filming process.

“Dragan Salkovski sat behind the monitor next to Izi and was always telling us ideas, he always had his comments in terms of composition, structure, as the film was shot with an ARRI ALEXA, but all the monitors were converted to a black-and-white setting. On the other hand, I was seeing in color through my viewfinder. That is how there was happening to be an interaction, and we were getting back to check what the filmed material looks like. We had previously set all the tonalities so that we can capture that picture at that atmosphere of the black-and-white picture and the collaboration was marvelous. By the way, Tomi and I have graduated at the same time, and Dragan Salkovski and I know each other ever since I have been doing this job, so this whole thing was an amazing experience”, Dimeski said.

Attendees at the press-conference were also the actors Natalija Teodosieva and Sasho Petrovski, and the conclusion was general that it is great as an idea that the love wins yet again.

Natalija Teodosieva said that this was a great experience.

-I haven’t worked on such scenes so far, we haven’t had the opportunity to work in that way. We had a few rehearsals with Sasho, two or three rehearsals with the acrobatics, it is easy to work with him because he is a professional and I think that we did quite well as a performing and acting duo, Natalija said.

Sasho Petrovski is a professional acrobat. “I had a few scenes where I did exactly what I was told and I think that it came out well.”

On the question of the condition they encountered the camera of the Manaki brothers in and how much would its restoration cost, Tomi Salkovski pointed out that the camera has a problem with the lens. “The lens is fixed, but the mechanism works perfectly. It’s left in a quite good condition. Some little interventions and tests needed to be done. If those tests wouldn’t have been done, we couldn’t have theoretically come to a correct calculation. Tests are done, material is being recorded, it is taken to a lab, and, afterwards, based on the recorded, exposed material, experts estimate what exactly has to be done. We didn’t have some exact calculations, just approximate ones which were larger than the budget given by the Film Agency, so we decided not to go into more serious elaborations in terms of the repair. By the way, the lens is a kind of a camcorder and it needs repair, so it should be sent to Zeiss.

A talk with Claudia Cardinale

The Small Hall of the Center for Culture in Bitola was too small to fit all the interested journalists, photo reporters and fans of the film diva Claudia Cardinale, who attended today’s talk moderated by Michele de Angelis, director and producer from Italy.

Claudia Cardinale had no special wish to become an actress as a young girl. Her sister had blue eyes, and everyone was seeing her as an upcoming actress, whereas Claudia studied pedagogy and wanted to be a teacher. As a 19-year-old girl, she won the Prettiest Italian Woman in Tunisia contest (the country where she is born and raised), and she won a trip to the Venice Film Festival. That is where she landed her first film job.

-Everyone was telling me that I should become an actress, so at the end I obeyed my father, who was quite persuasive, and I became an actress, Cardinale was talking at the start of the talk.

Even though Cardinale became a famous actress in Italy with the film ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS (1960) by Luchino Visconti, her voice in the film was done by another person, as in the other roles from that time, because Cardinale had been learning French in her native Tunisia. Basically, with the role in the film 8½ (1963) by Federico Fellini, Cardinale started to record with her own voice.

In 1963, she shot her second significant film at the start of her career, LEOPARD by Luchino Visconti.

-I did 4 films with Visconti, he usually didn’t want women, but he told me that I was an unusual woman, so he wanted to film with me, Cardinale says.

Fellini, on the other hand, wanted to see her as a blond woman for the film’s needs, so Cardinale, having long and lush black hair, had to color her hair every two weeks.

-Even though Visconti and Fellini were quite different characters as people and in their approach towards film, I did the most significant film of that period with them. During the filming of 8½, Fellini was getting me with a car from home every day, telling me that I am his muse, Cardinale remembers, pointing out the Italian director Pietro Germi (The Facts of Murder) as quite significant of an author at the dawn of her acting career.

-The strongest feeling in the making of films is to transform into another person, and after the film finishes, to get back to your own person, Cardinale explains.

Cardinale received a stunning applause from the audience on her statement that she has always refused to get naked in the films.

-I didn’t want to sell my body, Cardinale pointed out. She is also known as a fighter and activist for women’s rights, and since 2000, she is a UNESCO Ambassador of Good Will.

On the question from the audience of what is her commentary on the recent feminist movement Me Too in Hollywood, which fights against sexual harassment of actresses, Cardinale said that she has always fought and will still fight for women’s rights.

Although she hasn’t done many comedy films, many people have recognized a great comic potential in her. Exactly with her role in the comedy film Pink Panther by Blake Edwards, made in her successful year of 1963, Cardinale conquers Hollywood. She didn’t get any parts in comedy films later on, but this evening’s festival screening in honor of Cardinale – her most recent film Noble Lies (directed by Antonio Pisu) – is exactly a comedy film, which portrays her talent for this genre to the maximum. By the way, a festival guest is also the film’s producer Paolo Rossi.

During the talk’s excerpt Pink Panther breaks, Cardinale laughed as joyous as a little child, and then she shared a small secret from the shooting of this film.

-I didn’t smoke cigarettes up until the Pink Panther, so they gave me a cigarette to smoke on the shoot, but it actually came out to be marijuana, Cardinale said.

Although she had a great chance for a successful Hollywood career, Cardinale had answered to the offers that she is a European, and got back to Italy.

-I didn’t want to stay in America because Hollywood is very manipulative, Cardinale stated and received another stunning applause.

Yet, she did shoot Hollywood films occasionally, like the legendary The Professionals (1966) by Richard Brooks, as an only female star amongst the great names of Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Jack Palance, Robert Ryan…

Cardinale is also the only female star in the cult Italian-American epic spaghetti western by Sergio Leone, Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), side by side with Jason Robards, Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda.

-The most important thing for me was always the script, but also the good director. I got along quite well with both Brooks and Leone, but Leone kind of suited me more to my character because of the common Italian thread. Yet, The Professionals is also amongst my most significant films, Cardinale pointed out.

Although she has worked with famous actors who were considered as quite the seducers, Cardinale pointed out that she has never had a love affair on the shoots with any of the partners. Besides the fore-mentioned ones, other film partners of hers were Alain Delon, Marcello Mastroianni…

-In 1960 we did Mauro Bolognini’s Bell’ Antonio, with Mastroianni in the leading male role. He plays a role of a man in the film, a Sicilian, very handsome man, but he cannot make love to me, so a group of Sicilians gathered in front of the hotel claiming that there are no impotent Sicilian men, she laughingly tells of an episode during the film’s recording.

Cardinale also pointed out the collaboration with the master of film cinematography Giuseppe Rotunno, one of the Manaki Brothers festival laureates, in Visconti’s Leopard (1963). The ball scene was being shot though whole three weeks.

-Rotunno was a great artist, Cardinale pointed out.

Cardinale also talked about the experience with the director Pasquale Squitieri. During the shooting of the film Lucia, they fell in love with each other, got married, and then did another 10 films together. Their daughter Claudia Squitieri accompanies her mother in Bitola.

-My father often said that the film was good, but during the shooting, my mother was getting more and more beautiful in his eyes because she has changed his life, the daughter Claudia talked, receiving a great applause. Her mother replied to that, mentioning she was the one to choose Pasquale as a husband.

During the period of her great glory, the media was artificially heating up a contest of a sort between the most popular actresses of the time – Cardinale and Brigitt Bardot, which was often titled as the War of Initials – B.B. versus C.C.

After the talk’s end, the audience made a true Mediterranean procession with Claudia Cardinale, singing along with her on the lyrics of the famous Italian song Marina, and sent her off to the Epinal hotel.

Introducing the jury

The second press-conference today was devoted to introducing the members of the international jury: Olympia Mytilinaiou, cinematographer from Greece and president of the jury, Rainer Klausmann, cinematographer from Switzerland, Rebecca Fayyad, cinematographers’ agent from France, and the Macedonian in the jury, Gjorche Stavreski, the director of The Secret Ingredient, the Macedonian Academy Award candidate. One person was missing at the meet-and-greet, Mattias Troelstrup, cinematographer from Denmark, who will come to Macedonia tomorrow.

The president of the jury Mytilinaiou said that she is in Bitola for the second time, but the first time as a member of a jury, which she considers a great honor.

“As I am a cinematographer myself, this festival is very important. We had a great opening ceremony and I am joyously expecting to start watching the films”, Olympia said.

This year, there are two ladies in the jury. The second one is a cinematographers’ agent, who often works with them and helps them land jobs. It is Rebecca Fayyad, cinematographers’ agent from France.

”I think that the camera is not something celebrated enough and it is amazing that there is a festival that does that, and I am even more happy to be part of it. The camera is a big deal for me. I love it very much and I am very happy that there is a festival that celebrates cinematographers”, Fayyad said.

Rainer Klausmann is a Golden Camera 300 recipient, and last year he received the Silver Camera 300. Now he is again in Bitola as a member of the jury.

“I am happy to be again in Bitola. This is one big family. I feel it that way and I always see great film when I come here. I am thankful for the invite and I expect what is to come in the following days”, Klasumann pointed out.

It is a tradition for one of the members of the jury to be Macedonian. This year, that is the director Gjorche Stavreski, whose film The Secret Ingredient was a big success throughout the country, as well as abroad.

“The Secret Ingredient was chosen to be the Macedonian Academy Award candidate, but it is quite clear to me that the path up there is quite rocky and it is quite tough to get to that nominees list. I am still staying reserved to it all. Otherwise, I feel truly amazing here and I am honored that I am amongst these people. These will be some pretty nice days, Stavreski said, joking that, as in football, Germany will win at the end yet again.

Tomorrow at the festival we have the special event: Masterclass with Roger Deakins.

We invite you to visit our festival’s website where you can follow all the events daily, as well as some short interviews with the Festival’s guests, which you can freely share.