Nikola Popovski: Art for art’s sake


Nikola Popovski is a film director. When he was in high school he started to think about his future as a director. From childhood times, Nikola really liked to watch movies and he watched them over and over again. And later he considered other things boring, like being a doctor or someone else. He felt it was quite interesting to make movies and later his cousin went to study Film Directing at the university of Saint Denis, in France. It was encouraging. It was a moment when his cousin might have helped him to make/ introduce some crafts of suffering. That was how the story began. Later Nikola got to the film centre in local youth centre where he took a course in making films and it was the way to begin.


The director says he never thought of being an actor. It was clear to be a movie director for him, and he thought to be an operator, producer or actor was going to be a second option. In movies the director is the main creator, but in theatre we have the opposite situation, because some actors make the spectacle alive and fresh and they are equal with the director. Nikola likes to make some emotional stuff for the audience and likes to show actors in his vision of some acting, or representing the character on the screen.



In the last week he has been in Greece where his film ‘The Last Church Bells’ was in the competition of the International short movies in drama. Few weeks earlier he won first prize at Montreal World Film  Festival.

“Honestly, i didn’t expect this at all, because it’s a big competition”, says Popovski.
It was a really big surprise for him to find out that ‘The Last Church Bells‘ – his first professional movie, won the first prize at a big movie festival. It was huge news for him. He wasn’t the first Macedonian who had big success in global area, but it was the first Macedonian production to win a major prize.

“That is not the main thing, because the most important thing is that the movie got to its audience, it became recognized globally and i hope that it will open new perspectives for further festival participation”, says Nikola.

On this festival he believe that there were fifty movies selected from 2000, so the honor is great! Because he’s just pointing on something that appears and just believes that he must not give up on the struggle to somehow manage to keep up with all the changes that occurs on daily bases, that is really shocking for us but what else for us to not give up and keep up the pace. The making of a movie without any dialog is quite a challenge for a director, because not only that the film began without any dialog, but because it is a pure form of life and just moving pictures. Nikola has the feeling that these films are trying to remain silent just to remain silent: «l’art pour l’art». He might find himself in that kind of situation so when you see the movie you can have the feeling that it is really forced without an need but, to be honest, he’s really happy to see people who have seen the movie who claim that they didn’t have this strange feeling, they could just watch it none breath.



“It’s not a story which can happen only in Balkans, it can happen everywhere”, says Nikola.

When you see the movie you don’t have the information that it happens in Macedonia, it’s just a village which is deserted, in fact, this story can happen everywhere. He’s try to represent the whole world and he believe that the new generation has to think globally. And for this story the director chose the best actor for this role in his opinion – Meto Jovanovski. He is an icon for the macedonian people.

“Meto became old and nobody gave him a role where they playing an old man who is lonely and stuff like that and I approached him because I really wanted to have him in the film. I considered other options, but to be honest i was convinced that Meto was the guy so i approached him. He recognized the potential the story had and he accepted so we started. He saw the potential, he said: “this is good, this can be recognized globally, let’s do it!” and we did it”, tell us Popovski.

Personally, the director wants the audience to enjoy his movies first, and within these moments of pleasure he believes that something within their conscience can trigger something so that it can make them think about social, political, psychological issues, emotional really; just maybe. Nikola believe that the cinema must be about many aspects so the audience really perceives it.

” In fact, the things that i wanted to say must come from within the story not to be pointed out in the story”.



Nikola says some funny story from his “The Last Church Bells” When his team needed a goat for the movie and they went to the man who had it. They asked, what does he want for it in return, and he says:  “Yes, you can use them, but you should take both of the goats”, but we only need one and we are paying for one, “Yes, but you should take both of them because they have a connection assisters. If one doesn’t go, the other will not go. They have to be together all the time”.Team had one goat in front of the camera and the other was behind. It was one of the challenges we had to deal with#, pointed Nikola. But the big challenge was when they were going to find the appropriate settings. The team had a real adventure to find this place where this story would happen. First they went all around the Skopje region looking for churches, for church tower bells. Unfortunately they didn’t find anything appropriate for Nikola’s idea. He remembered he had seen this tower and this church in some area and he called his friend who lives there and asked him if he can make some photos and send by e-mail. He did that. They saw them and went there. That was what they needed – the team found the right place. But there was no hotel. They still somehow found one single hotel where the crew could stay and it was really challenging to do it.


The Macedonian Film Agency is the only one way where you can find some financial support in Macedonia, says Nikola. This agency has the announce ment for applying the documents and projects for giving support. The agency makes a decision about it and if your idea is good – you will get it! It is a normal procedure for all agencies all around the world. And “The Last Church Bell” had a budget of 26. 000 euros. But, when Nikola was at the Film Festival, and he saw a Belgian movie had a science fiction story and it was less than 29 minutes. It was a really high level of production for this type of movie with its appearance, and the director was there. He said he had a 400.000 euro budget for this short movie. Nikola was really shocked, because he had twelve times less! He say:“But his might not be so much awarded in Belgium as in Macedonia. Because I have some colleagues who made movies for 250.000 euros. It is something relative in this budget. In a country with a big economy their price is higher and everything is more expensive. Maybe we have to deal with this budget and with its limits”.



“The Last Church Bell” was his first professional movie. He had two short documentaries, one short movie and he worked on television for 150 episodes of “National Folk Tales”. This project was connected with Macedonian folklore –destination of local heritage. “Our national television had an idea about that in the 80’s to make the movies out of the stories. Another television channel has remade them and I had  the opportunity to direct fully 150 episodes. So it was like training”.

In this time Nikola just finished the post production of a new TV-series of 10 episodes about our famous poet Kočo Racin. This poet is a very important history figure, because when we didn’t have any freedom he published in macedonian language, he was prosecuted because of that, his book was published in 4.000 samples and the authority took it out.

“We are the small country in Balkans and here we do not have a big film industry. Television is not so developed here, but this series that I made for TV too was funded by MFA -had a budget of 370.000 euros”, says the director.

Nikola after the finish this project about poet he start to working on the production of his first feature film.


Christopher MAIKEN


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