Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival


September 25, Bitola – Today’s festival day started with the introduction of the film from the European Cinema Perspectives program, The Marriage and the director Blerta Zeqiri.

This is a Kosovar film which showcases an unusual love triangle, where, only two weeks before Anita and Bekim’s wedding, Bekim’s secret lover, Nol comes to town.

-The film opens up a subject of which existence we are not aware, but it is more at the margins of the society. The problem the LGBT community faces is quite boldly treated. Although it has all the aspects of a Balkan community, there are very beautiful patriarchal scenes, treating the traditional values, because the people in the audience aren’t always ready to see scenes of two male actors making love, Slagjan Penev, selector of the European Cinema Perspectives program, said.

The film The Marriage is the first feature film of the director Zeqiri and it had quite a great success at festivals so far.

-The influence by the actors was quite big in the making of the script, but I also want to point out their bravery to accept being part of this project because when we started to prepare the film in 2012-2013, there was a big accident at a party in Kosovo promoting an issue devoted to the LGBT community. A large group of extremists came by, wrecking everything, and some people were beaten up. That is why we were also terrified that something similar might happen to us considering the subject of the film. We kept the film a secret, the media didn’t know the theme, but they helped us by not publishing anything until we finished the film. A great deal was done also by the actors Alban Ukaj, who is very popular, who has worked abroad and is known as the Kosovar Brad Pitt, everyone loves him, and the role of Nol, the lover in the film, is played by the Kosovar rock-star Genc Salihu, Zeqiri said.

The cinematographer Lukas Milota spoke about the film Winter Flies, which was screened last night as part of the Golden Camera 300 competition. The film and cinematographer were introduced by the selector of the official program of the Festival, Blagoja Kunovski – Dore.

-The children are not professional actors. Working with them was quite a long process, the rehearsals lasted more than six months, but at the end we got the effect of teenage adventurers who set off south across the frozen landscape in search of an adventure, Milota said. He is present at the Manaki Brothers festival for the second time.

Milota said that he used an ALEXA Mini camera, because it was quite compact and easy to handle, especially for this film.

Marija Apchevska introduced two film crews from the short films selection. The director of the film Birch, Paisley Valentine Walsh spoke of the idea of the film.

-The childhood memories were the main idea to shoot this film. We tried to stay close to the memories the whole time, Paisley said.

The film is shot on a filmstrip, which is very hard.

-The harder thing is the fact that you also have a dog and two children and you don’t have the opportunity to shoot the scenes multiple times. We made the choice of working on filmstrip because we think that it gives more connection to the audience, Vincenzo Marranghino, the cinematographer of the film Birch, pointed out.

The second film from the short films selection that was introduced today was the film Without Love, which was shot in hard conditions on a mountain.

-We were shooting three days in Mavrovo, the location is in Macedonia, and it was hard to work in those conditions. We know that the scene of jumping in the lake leaves a stronger impression, and it wasn’t easy to shoot it, but we did it, the director and script writer of the film, Dina Duma, said.

As part of the First Films First program, the cinematographer Christian Berger and the production designer Christoph Kanter held a Master Class on the subject Creating Visual Style in Haneke’s Films. The attendees were greeted by the festival director Gena Teodosievska and the program coordinator Stefan Arsenijevikj, who said that it is a great honor for this program to collaborate with the Manaki Brothers festival for three years in a row. The moderator of the Master Class was Samir Ljuma. The Master Class focused on three films by Haneke where the two guests collaborated. On the question if the production designer is some sort of a cultural anthropologist, Kanter answered that it is true because there should be some quite thorough research of what everything was like in the time showcased in the film. Berger pointed out the collaboration with his fellow cinematographers, one of whom is Roger Deakins himself, who he had discussion with over issues while working on the film The White Ribbon. In terms of framing, Berger highlighted that with time the good cinematographer simply develops a feeling of exactly what information he should give to the viewer. He has quite often been inspired by art and paintings. Berger and Kanter were unanimous that, while working on films, everyone needs to make sure they have the same interpretation as the director of what is not written down in the script.

Following the screening of the documentary film Living the Light last night, a film devoted to the life and work of the cinematographer Robby Muller, the recipient of the 2016 Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement, the director Claire Pijman and Robby Muller’s wife, Andrea Muller answered the questions from the audience.

-I am honored to be here amongst such good and famous cinematographers, and even though I shot and edited this film, I always see something new there and I am truly thankful for giving us the chance to screen it here. The film’s structure was dictated by the huge archive of recordings and photographs, the director Pijman said.

His wife Andrea said that the light, the work were important to Robby Muller as much as the family, but the film shows quite well that the trust was quite important for him and for the communication with the family, but also for the work. Robby wanted to work with directors he can trust and when he gets that trust back, the collaboration bloomed.

Roger Deakins also attended the screening and said that he very much appreciates Muller’s work, especially the way he used color and that he has had great influence into his own work, pointing an example in the film To Live and Die in LA, which had changed the way Hollywood works.

The film devoted to Robby Muller had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival shortly after his death. His wife Andrea said that it was rather complicated for the family to watch the film, but they realized that it is a great landmark of Robby Muller’s work. She also gave her gratitude to the Manaki Brothers festival and said that when she was coming to Bitola, it had a special significance because she followed the path of her husband, who has attended the Manaki Brothers festival couple of time before.

On the other hand, this year’s festival star, Claudia Cardinale and her crew, visited the city of Ohrid last night. She was amazed by the Ohrid pearls, the nature and the churches of Ohrid.

The director of the ICFF Manaki Brothers publicly gave her gratitude to the Institute and Museum of Ohrid and to the director Eleonora Novakovska for providing the opportunity for the world-renowned film diva Claudia Cardinale and the important guests of the festival to get to know the cultural treasure of Macedonia. The guests visited Ohrid this last Monday and, even though it was a non-working day, the director Novakovska allowed for them to see the valuable exhibits of the cultural treasure of Macedonia.

This morning, the Center for Culture in Bitola was filled with children’s voices, as the youngest audience came for the start of the children’s program.

The student program is also underway, as 30 students from 15 academies from the region are present at the festival.

Tomorrow, the second day of the IMAGO Balkan Conference will be part of the Festival’s program, as well as a meeting with Saïd Ould Khelifa and Dominique Bax, who will speak of the film festivals and film criticism.