Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival


September 27, Bitola – The festival day at the Manaki Brothers festival started with the introduction of the cinematographer of the film Foxtrot, Giora Bejach. The film was screened in the competition program for the Golden Camera 300 award.

-We tried to put in different films, with different aesthetics and cinematography. We were always thinking of the whole quality of the film. I saw Foxtrot at the Venice Film Festival and we didn’t have the possibility to bring it to this festival that same year, but here it is now, the selector Blagoja Kunovski – Dore said.

It is a great film, and Bejach won the Bronze Camera 300 a few years ago for the film Lebanon at the ICFF Manaki Brothers.

-The main challenges in a film are bringing the story, the grief and the situation we call “knocking on the door” in Israel. The main goal was to bring it to the screen with the aim of showing how the character feels and we tried the camera to seem as if though it is inside the situation, not an observer. We wanted to show his world coming down at the moment of the loss of his son, and the top shot was the one to achieve that. I actually work with a handheld ARRI ALEXA camera. I like it very much because later I don’t have to do much in post-production. This camera allows the picture not to be too sharp, I liked that style, but it is still my personal taste, Bejach said.

The film is very strong, the viewer feels like a soulmate of the main character, as someone having compassion with him.

-The film is already screened in Israel and the film critics loved it, but the Minister for Culture didn’t even see it, she is against this film even though she hasn’t seen it. But exactly that fact that the Minister for Culture was against the film brought even more publicity to the film and the people wanted to see it. Usually, the films in Israel are seen by an audience of about 60.000 people, and we now have about 130.000 spectators who have seen this film. Politics is involved, and it wrecks the film industry, not only in Israel, but everywhere, Bejach explained.

The selector Ana Vasilevska introduced some of the present representatives in the Makpoint program, Lidija Mojsovska, director of the film The Award, Zagorka Pop-Antoska Andovska, producer of the film Father, and talked about the quality of production of the Macedonian films, as there is an info that barely about 10 films from 307 Macedonian films can be seen at festivals.

-We sometimes rush in the production and the decision on the possibilities. I had a lot of problems. I think that the situation should get better. Every young author has experienced production problems and this is a good start of production improvement, Mojsovska pointed out.

Zagorka Pop-Antoska Andovska is a playwright, but she had the role of a producer in the film Father, a work by Irma Basheska devoted to her father Zharko Basheski.

-One thing should be pointed out, that the young authors start go fly high with a small budget or sometimes even with no budget to show and prove to themselves that they know what they’re doing. There are a few examples where there are production problems and a great commitment on making a piece of work start to finish which is respect-worthy. The film Father was shot with equipment owned by the DASTA Academy, which is also a producer of the film. We worked with what we had and, as a playwright, I can say that there are great examples where the story is the dominant thing that drives the film, especially now when there is technology that brings to a final film product, Pop-Antoska Andovska said.

It was a common stance that the young authors should be aided and motivated because many of them have only one or two films put in their CVs by the age of 40. That is way too little to speak of serious experience.

Zharko Ivanov is the director and script writer of the animated film The Monk, and also Igor Ivanovski of the film Form B16, and they spoke of the tradition of making animated films in this country.

-The animated film in Macedonia had a tradition up to the 80s and it died off afterwards. About ten years ago, we started working on it again. Availability of technology enhanced the production of animated films, Ivanov said.

According to Ivan Ivanovski, animated film is done with far less money and support.

-We work with very little money from our colleagues from abroad. I see the idea and the creativity in Macedonian film, but I don’t see inventiveness. What matters to me is for the film to be brave. I always consider that to be a big advantage, to work honest and brave, and the tough production circumstances shouldn’t be an obstacle, Ivanovski thinks.

Honoring the 100-year anniversary from the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s birth, the film Persona will be screened tonight at the ICFF Manaki Brothers. This film was shot in 1966 on an island in the Baltic Sea where the author himself lived, where he shot his films and where he is buried. On this occasion, the Swedish Ambassador Mats Staffansson and the director of the Cinematheque of Macedonia Vladimir Angelov introduced the program for the marking of this anniversary.

-I am honored to be a guest of this big and respected festival, especially at the marking of the anniversary of the birth of the great film, theater director and production designer, who was very productive. The film Persona is one of his most complicated films, but also one of his most criticized ones. Still, the film Persona is a psychological drama which is the Mount Everest of film art. Bergman’s films are very deep, he is fantastic person, and it is very unusual that he didn’t win an Oscar, even though he had 8 or 9 nominations. But he wasn’t very concerned about that, the Swedish Ambassador Mats Staffansson said.

Partner of the festival is the Cinematheque of Macedonia, whose director Vladimir Angelov talked about the preparations for the marking of the 100-year anniversary of the birth of Ingmar Bergman.

-I would like to point out that Bergman is also an author of 4 autobiographies, aside of his work on directing and script-writing, so he was truly a complex person. I had the opportunity to meet him in Stockholm in 2003 and that was a revelation for me, it was one of the most important moments of my life. I think that we will have a good year of celebrating the work of Bergman and I would like for us to succeed in translating some of his books, the director of the Cinematheque of Macedonia Vladimir Angelov said.

Meet-up with Dominique Bax and Saïd Ould Khelifa, directors of the Annaba Mediterranean Film Festival in Algeria

The cinematographers film festival Manaki Brothers today introduced Dominique Bax, artistic director, and Saïd Ould Khelifa, director of the Annaba Mediterranean Film Festival in Algeria.

Bax has more than 30 years of experience in exploitation, distribution and organizing of festivals and educative workshops. She is a director of Magic Cinema in Bobigny, the Paris suburb that has educative programs and cultural and pedagogical activities, also a director of the festival Theatre and Film since 2014, and director of the festival Resonances and Film Gatherings with a Civic Approach. She is the one responsible for the publication of the piece of work Theater and Film in 30 volumes.

She is also a president of the Association Crossroad of Festivals (Carrefour des festivals), which consists of the film festivals in France, and is also a member of the script aid committee at the Cinematographers National Center (CNC).

On the other hand, Saïd Ould Khelifa made a successful career in journalism as a reporter, chief of the international rubric (Algeria, France), collaborator of the daily newspaper The Nation (USA) and the magazine Cinéma Politique (France).

Gena Teodosievska, the director of the festival Manaki Brothers, introducing the guests at the start of the meet-up, pointed out that Bax and Khelifa as people devoted to film for 40 years already, people who know film festivals around the world very well, as well as film critics.

Blagoja Kunovski – Dore, the artistic director and selector of the official competition program at the Manaki Brothers festival, reminded the attendees of the meet-up that Mrs. Dominique Bax was a member of the jury at the festival in Bitola in one of its previous editions.

Bax and Khelifa think that the film festivals can also determine someone’s fate, so they shared their own life experience.

-The presence of films at festivals is an opportunity for getting to know the country they come from, Bax pointed out.

But she also said that the small cinematographic societies have a problem with the placement of their films at leading world festivals because the same festivals, e.g. the French ones, choose an easier way of creation of their programs, so they take films from the distributers themselves.

-There are very little films from Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, the Slavic countries from Eastern Europe, Portugal etc., at the festivals in France, Bax made a notice.

On the other hand, Khelifa thinks that there is audience at the festivals and the cinemas that wants to watch artistic films.

-We saw Summer here at Manaki Brothers, a film by the Russian director Kiril Serebrenikov, which was also at the Cannes Film Festival, Khelifa says.

Bax and Khelifa’s mission as film critics is discovering new authors.

-We were at the Venice Film Festival in 1994, and I met a producer of a film that amazed me there. I told the producer that a great injustice will be done if his film doesn’t get the Golden Lion. The film was titles Before the Rain, the director is Milcho Manchevski, and the producer is Simon Perry, Khelifa presented his mission as a critic through an anecdote.

Bax thinks that the function of festivals is to offer an opportunity for discovering new authors and cinematography pieces.

-We are here because we want to discover the Macedonian film authors and present them at the Annaba Mediterranean Film Festival, Bax and Khelifa pointed out.

The exhibition Miss Stone: Somewhere Between Ellen and Autonomy is open

As part of the ICFF Manaki Brothers, the Cinematheque of Macedonia opened up the exhibition at the Bitola cultural center Magaza last night and started the film screenings that mark the 60-year anniversary from the premiere of the Macedonian feature film Miss Stone, all with the title Miss Stone: Somewhere Between Ellen and Autonomy, where photographs, scenography sketches, propaganda material and other archive materials were exhibited. On the occasion of the anniversary, the Macedonian public had the opportunity to see the presentation of a significant part of the saved materials that are nowadays part of the written documentation collection of the archive of the Cinematheque of Macedonia. In its time, Miss Stone was one of the most expensive and most ambitious Yugoslav productions, the first Macedonian film in color, but also in a totalscope technique.

-The film Miss Stone started its shoot in 1958 and its filming didn’t go that easy, it was a big project and it can all be seen through these 20 panels exhibited, where you can see the whole history of Miss Stone. It can be freely called a film behind the film. The film has a very rich life up to 1962, when a big flood hits Skopje and a large part of the materials in Vardar Film are destroyed and that is where the international distribution of the film ended. Still, the Cinematheque has made a protected copy from multiple different copies. I hope that we will soon make a digital restoration which will bring the film back to life, Vladimir Angelov, the director of the Cinematheque of Macedonia, said.

He announced that the film will be screened at the Days of Macedonian Film in Zagreb, from October 3, in the cult cinema Tushkanac, where the exhibition will also be set up. The director of the ICFF Manaki Brothers Gena Teodosievska said that she accepted his idea of setting up this exhibition during the festival with pleasure because they share similar stances with the director Angelov on what preservation of film and Macedonian cinematography means.

-The Cinematheque of Macedonia is our partner together with the Film Agency, the Municipality of Bitola, Institute and Museum Bitola, the Center for Culture and the National Theater in Bitola and they all have their share in the preservation of the Macedonian culture and film. This is one of those precious events. The Cinematheque of Macedonia is one of the rare institutions that even in facing a lack of finances tries this exhibition to look dignifying, Teodosievska said.

Sara Logan Hofstein was a guest at the student program last night. But the most interesting moment from this year’s student program was the hangout with Roger Deakins with the students, Gjorgji Pulevski, selector of the student program, says.

-The director Gena Teodosievska and I felt that there won’t be enough time for the students to ask Deakins all the things they want to and that is why we asked the legendary cinematographer to devote some time to the future film authors in an informal manner. A great atmosphere came around, the hangout lasted more than what was planned, the students posed various questions: ones in terms of lighting and other technical solutions connected to his work, but they also wanted to find out about his life philosophy.

Two interesting things that Deakins said that left an impression on me: the way of dealing with unanticipated mistakes and how to be resolved at the same moment, and he also shared the fact that he was fired twice and that it didn’t make him question giving up this job. At the start of his career, some producer told him that he is not that good at the cinematography work, Pulevski says.

This year, the student program is so ambitious and with a lot of workshops for the first time.

-We wanted this program to be a stamp of impression for the students, which will become a fundament of the development of their technical and creative capacities, we will try to make this idea happen more every other year, Pulevski says.