One week of European movies – Cinedays in Skopje

For one week Skopje turned into a hub for movie and festival lovers. Between the 15th of July to the 22nd of July, twelve recent European movies were played on open-air locations across the city.

Usually the “Youth Cultural Center” (MKC) hosts the Cinedays during November, but the pandemic required a new planning. For the first time in Cineday’s 20 year long history it was an open-air event during a summer week. With locations at City Park, MKC and even at the top of Vodno, the event had great visibility across the city. However, due to to heavy rain for three days, not every movie could be played in open air.

“It was raining for three days. We had to reorganize everything, changing the schedule”, explain the two volunteers Katarina and Tamrara.

At the closing day of the festival, there is sunny weather again. We immediately feel the festive and joyful energy. On the campus at city park, a volunteer quickly offers us free water while a salesmen gifts us popcorn.

Some people in the park don’t pay the ticket money by sitting and watching the movie from outside of the campus. The screen is huge and the volume is loud so they follow the movie without giving the 100 denars entrance fee. Inside of the campus, the the stage manager Darko shows enthusiam for the event. “It’s a great opportunity to see European films on the open air. It’s good to enjoy the summer with the cinema.”

Afterwards we take a look at the location at MKC. Here they show the closing short movie “The Human Voice” by Pedro Almodovar. The story about a woman abandoned by her lover catches and moves the audience.

During the closing night, the two best movies are awarded. The international jury couldn’t be present, so through a prerecorded video they announce “Hive” by Bierta Basholi and “It’s all about peace and harmony” by Nesimi Yetik as this year’s winners.

Volunteers are an important part of the festival. Katarina and Tamara got involved through other film festivals like “Makedox”. They say around 30 volunteers are helping out – 10 were put in each location each day. “We make sure that there are enough chairs for the guests, that the chairs are clean. We’re taking the tickets, checking the temperature”, the two girls describe. About the covid measurements they say: “Since it’s outside it’s very easy. When it was inside there were more measurements to consider.”

When talking to the visitors they underline how great it feels to attend events again. “After the pandemic it’s a great experience. I mean, we kinda distanced ourselves from everything this year and this whole experience is like boom for me . Like there are so many people, what is happening?”, states Ana who is selling drinks. She also shares one of her highlights: “It is a movie festival but a lot of concerts and music gigs took place in the evenings.”

Silvia, a visitor of the festival gives a similar statement. “It is an amazing feeling because we can go out now. We can see people, we can see movies and drink beer. And in a way, it never stopped.”

20 years ago the Cinedays were held for the first time in European capitals. With the intention to “celebrate the European cinematography” and promote young European authors, Skopje’s festival managed to establish itself as an annual and recognized event. By today “Cinedays” are the largest film festival in Macedonia.

Clarissa Leute

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