Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

The 40th edition of the “Manaki Brothers” ends tonight with the presentation of the Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement to Yorgos Arvanitis and the awards for the best cinematographers

21 September, Bitola – Tonight, at the closing of the 40th jubilee edition of the ICFF “Manaki Brothers”, the Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement award will be presented to its laureate, the cinematographer Yorgos Arvanitis, and the international jury will announce the names of the winners of the Golden, Silver and Bronze Camera 300 for the best cinematography works of this year’s main selection. Also, the Small Camera 300 will be awarded to the best cinematographer in the Short Films selection. Right after, the special screening of the film Manaki – A Story in Pictures will be held, whose director and cinematographer is Robert Jankuloski, and which showcases the photography work of Janaki and Milton Manaki and their large body of work.

Last night, the awards that are being given for the first time this year were presented – for the best engaged documentary film, awarded by the Municipality of Bitola, and for the best film according to the audience from the Makpoint program.

The three-member jury which decided upon the best documentary film, gave the award to the film For Sama by the director and cinematographer Waad al-Kateab and the director Edward Watts, describing it as an intimate and epic journey in times of war, through the eyes of a journalist. Using the camera, the journalist has captured the dramatic moments in Aleppo, Syria, and the suffering of the innocent people during the dreadful bombings and the war assaults on the city.

-Together with the major of Bitola, Natasha Petrovska, we decided to introduce this award to the festival, because in that way we continue the tradition of the Manaki brothers, who were the first documentarists of these areas. I hope that this approach and attitude towards their work will stay as a legacy for the ones to be part of this festival in the future and that they will nurture the documentary film, Gena Teodosievska, director of the festival, said.

In the Makpoint program, which showcased the newest Macedonian authors, the audience voted after every screening and, according to their votes, the film Skopje 2020 by the director Radovan Petrovic and the cinematographer Andrei Lembanov won.

-We decided to introduce this award and in that way to include the audience in the festival and the film world even more. I hope that the award will motivate the young Macedonian film professionals to continue their work and to be part of the Makpoint program, Ana Vasilevska, selector of the program, said.

Frank Griebe, cinematographer of the film Lara, which was screened in the main competition, remember his first visit of Bitola 24 year ago, during today’s talk with Blagoja Kunovski – Dore, selector of the program.

Lara has a more aesthetic approach and it creates an atmosphere with the main character, who in Karlovy Vary won the award for best actress. His last film is a third collaboration with one of the most interesting directors and it represents a German film with a French aesthetic. Yesterday, about 450 people saw the film and the audience stayed until the very end of the film, Kunovski said.

In terms of how it felt to be present at a screening with a filled cinema, the aesthetic of the film and the collaboration with the director, Griebe said that they needed a longer time to find their common language with the director Jan-Ole Gerster.

-After we set the camera on the first day of shooting and we started to move, the next day the director said that we should be more still and that is how we went on to shoot still shots until the end of the film. We were talking during the shooting about the works of Bergman and Antonioni and their influence can be felt in the film, Griebe said.

The film mixes tragedy and comedy, and the major part of it is situated in the script, which is 10 years old. The scriptwriter comes from Slovenia, Blaz Kutin, and he told the story of Lara, who celebrates her 60th birthday and on that special night her son has his debut piano concert. Lara traced the path of his music career, but is not welcome to the performance…

-The shooting of the film started with the old professor, and the concert scenes were shot later, because there were constantly some events being held in the hall and we didn’t have much time to shoot, so we were shooting 33 days in total, with a budget of 3 million euros, Griebe explained.

Last year’s recipient of the Silver Camera 300 came to Bitola to support his friends Lachman and Arvanitis

Eric Gautier, the cinematographer who received the Silver Camera 300 last year at the “Manaki Brothers” festival, traveled to Bitola and today shared his experiences from the participation at the festivals in Venice, Cannes, and here in Bitola.

-It is always a pleasure to be in Bitola. I am thankful that you asked me to be part of the jury, but I couldn’t participate I had other obligations, but I made efforts to come to the closing ceremony of the festival. I meet many cinematographers here, I am glad Ed Lachman and Arvanitis had special screenings in their honor, because they are my friends and colleagues, who I very much appreciate, and where elsewhere would I come if not here – to the place where cinematographers come together, Gautier said.

Konstantin Esadze, cinematographer of the film Dede, as part of the Country in Focus – Georgia program, talked about the challenges during the shooting in the talk with Slagjan Penev.

The film tells a story about one woman and three men. Dina can challenge the harsh traditions of the deep Caucasus Mountains, but will her spirit survive?

-This is a great festival for cinematographers, but where is my award?, Konstantin made a joke at the beginning. My German colleague, who had been here before me, said that a 1-million-dollar budget is a small one, so I would like to ask what sort of a budget is 100.000 euros? We travelled through the Caucasus Mountains, we were looking for shooting locations during three seasons: winter, spring, and autumn. Because of the small budget, we had to rent a cheap camera, the AGASO. Has anyone heard of this camera? I don’t think so. It is a very cheap camera, but we shot the film on it. Because of the weather issues, the Caucasus Mountains are very cold and there was much snow, we all got sick, but we succeeded in finishing the film, Esadze said.

From the Short Films program, the selector Marija Apchevska talked with Tim Kuhn, cinematographer of the film Jupiter, and Alberto Marchiori, cinematographer of the film Delay.

Tim Kuhn said that they were shooting in the Alps with an ALEXA camera and that is why there is such a color palette in the film. The story of the film is about members of a cult who commit suicide. A teenage girl who is travelling with her family to a remote cabin in the Alps, later has to decide whether she will follow her own path or she will follow her parents.

The film Delay is a work of the cinematographer Alberto Marchiori and he broke the dilemma today about the open ending of the film. In fact, the viewer sees the end of the film through the perspective of the father.

-The film has the goal to make people think about the responsibility they have as parents. When the director Ali Asgari gave me the script, I liked it right away and I shot two scenes. A father with his two children are late for their flight and while they wait for the next one, something happens that will change his view on what it means to be a father, Marchiori said.

The “Manaki Brothers” festival joined the campaign “Loud Against Rumors” of OSCE, the director of the festival Gena Teodosievska announce before the screening of the film Female Pleasure, from the documentary program. Rumors are beliefs which are not based on facts, but on the fact that a lot of people believe in them. Through them, the harmful stereotypes and prejudices against women are spread and firmed. The “Manaki Brothers” festival always sends a strong message for gender equality, and it is our honor that the number of female authors at the festival, both directors and cinematographers, is constantly growing.

A debate on LGBTI culture

As part of the additional program, a talk on LGBTI culture was held about the documentary film Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life. Last night’s screening of the documentary film Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life by Tomer Heymann, was the occasion for the talk about the LGBTI-culture, which was held today at noon at the Magaza in Bitola. The participants in the debate were Uranija Pirovska, executive director of the Helsinki Committee, and Kocho Andonovski, director of the LGBTI Support Center, and the talk was moderated by the journalist Borjan Jovanovski. The story of Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life treats the suppressed sexuality of the members of the gay community.

Jovanovski started the talk with his experience in the making of a documentary in Madrid, Spain, which is on the subject of tolerance in the Spanish society, dominantly catholic and conservative, towards the members of the gay community. He also mentioned that the “Manaki Brothers” festival was opened with the film Pain and Glory, whose author Pedro Almodovar often refers to this subject in his films.

Kocho Andonovski connected the fear of violence, as a main subject in the film, with the current campaign “Now I Speak”, where women confess their experience with sexual violence to which they have been subjected. He pointed out that the relations in the family and at school are the main generators of the fear from violence, verbal and physical, towards the members of the gay community.

-The members of the gay community often look for an escape in drugs and alcohol because of the rejection from their parents and classmates. Hence, a large number of gay people develop and live two identities, Andonovski says.

Uranija Pirovska reminded her arrival at the Helsinki Committee in 2012, when not all segments of the life of the LGBTI-community were known to her, the brutality to which its members were subjected and the rejection from their families.

-The LGBTI-culture here in that period was invisible, even though it existed, and it started to emancipate. We opened the LGBTI Legal Support Center and a safe house which takes care of the victims. This year, we also organized the Pride Parade, Pirovska pointed out.