European Cinema Perspectives


Slagjan Penev
Slagjan Penev Programmer of European Cinema Perspectives


This year we have been seriously enhanced in terms of the number of films in the European Cinema Perspectives, most of all thanks to the support of the Media Programme of Creative Europe, as well as the strategic approach of the “Manaki Brothers” Festival which strived to make this program more visible and recognized as one of the essential marks of the festival in future.

This year too, the films which are part of this program are mainly first or second films by young directors, who take on topics related to some of the greatest moral challenges of the modern world – refugees, minorities, the poor, gender inequality and addictions. In fact, most of the films in this program come from Southeast Europe, but the rest of the continent also strikes a good balance. From Albania we have an interesting on the road story about the quest for the man who would save the honour of a pregnant woman, with a brave female struggle against the suffocating reins of patriarchy. From Bulgaria we will see a story about a mother and wife faced with the cruel fight to survive and support a family.

The Romanian story “Lemonade” too, has a mother for a main character who fights down to the last atom of her being to provide a decent life for herself and her child in the cruel Wild West. The Serbian “Stitches” also tells a disquieting story about a mother who has been fighting to discover the truth about her child who has been declared dead by the institutions for twenty years. The Kosovo film “Aga’s House” acquaints us with a boy growing up surrounded by women-victims of violence, whose traumatic stories give shape to this world until one day he becomes aware that one of the most important of those stories, the one about his father’s absence, is a lie.

The story from Greece introduces an unusual waiter, whose neat every-day life will be disrupted with the appearance of a diabolical neighbor. A true visual delight in a neo-noir style, “Waiter” is an excellent debut by a director who is yet to conquer the big screen.
The Turkish “Announcement” tell us the story of a failed attempt for a military coup in Turkey from about 50 years ago, with a rather original approach which at times recalls an absurdist comedy, and at times pulp-fiction.

In an almost documentary approach, the Swiss “Those Who Are Fine” shows us a sequence of the dehumanized well-being of one of the richest societies, where you are unable to trace any emotion, even in situations in which people would be compelled to show the most basic reactions when faced with sorrow, fear or joy.

The Belgian “Hellhole” portrays a story from the center of Europe to its finest subtleties, where both the “oldcomers” and “newcomers” are facing their powerlessness and apathy in the context of the nearly military tension hanging heavy in the air. The Norwegian “As I fall” is an extraordinarily visualized story about an outsider who is bound to fight his terrible addiction in order to be able to parent his child.
As you can see from the brief overview of this program, cinema production in the old continent is in an excellent condition and continues fostering the auteur approach, questioning the established values and criticizing social hypocrisy, and I believe that the viewers who are fans of European cinema will have a decent selection to foster this virtuous habit this September in Bitola.

Slagjan Penev
Programmer of European Cinema Perspectives

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