Local Film Productions 

New movie premieres in the local cinema, a film poster on the street, or a cozy Netflix night at home- movies and shows are a big part of our lives. Furthermore, Cinematography is an art that displays culture, social norms, and opinions. It is an essential medium for cultural exchange within countries and across borders. Local filmmakers catch regional and national interest topics, depicting conflicts, or try to unite communities. Therefore, one should pay special attention to local film productions. How did Macedonian film production start, and how is the industry doing today?

When the first film was published in 1895 by the Lumiere brothers, film production was locally concentrated in Western Europe. This changed in 1905 when the photographers Milton and Yanaki Manaki traveled to London and bought their first film camera, an Urban Bioscope 300. They documented their first film, ‘The Weavers’, which is recognized as the first film in the Balkans. The National Archive of Macedonia preserves more than 17.000 photos and more than 1200 meters of film. Films, ranging from 60 seconds to more than 20 minutes, captured notable historical events of the Balkan region. The Manaki brothers have created a legacy. Their impact is still noticeable in Macedonia. To honor the brothers, the Manaki Brothers Film Festival in Bitola, where the Golden Camera 300 Award, named after their first camera, is given out. Overall, Macedonia has a rich history of cinematography. 

Today we can see a significant rise in globally rewarding productions in Macedonia. Since ‘Before the Rain, ‘the first internationally recognized and Oscar-nominated movie from 1995, Macedonia experiences growth in its film industry. Macedonian-produced or co-produced movies have aroused global interest. In recent years, movies about worldwide-thematized struggles like climate change and disruption of nature or feminist struggles have been awarded. 

This development is noticeable in the last few years of film production. The documentary ‘Honeyland, a film about climate change, biodiversity loss, and the exploitation of natural resources, is directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov. Since its release in 2019, the film has been awarded at local festivals and received two nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards. In Oscar‘s history, it was the first documentary nominated for Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature Film.

 ‘God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya‘, directed by Teona Mitevska, thematizes the feminist struggle in a traditionally patriarchal society. After receiving several international awards, the movie has been rewarded with the LUX-Film Prize by the European Parliament.

Macedonia does face a specific infrastructural problem when it comes to delivering a movie to its audience. There are only a few Macedonia cinemas, most of which are located in Skopje or Bitola. People from rural areas lack the chance to visit a film premiere. However, The Macedonian Film Agency wants to support the production and screening of local film productions and will therefore contribute to more films financially. 

As more locally produced movies make their way to the market and production support increases, we can expect more successful Macedonian movies. Buckle up and wish to visit the cinema more often! 

Tamina Schulze 

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