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100 Years of Macedonian Filmmaking

Credited as the fathers of Macedonian Filmmaking the Manaki brothers, Janaki and Milton, started their film careers in 1905, in the city of Bitola (See separate article). Using a 35mm Bioscope, serial #300, camera they produced their first film, immortalizing their 114 year old grandmother spinning with other women. This film was made only 10 years after the brothers Lumiere shot the very first moving picture. The brothers went on to shoot numerous films, many from the balcony of their house on Bitola’s main street (Shirok Sokak) documenting all aspects of city life.

In 1921 they opened their first cinema – Manaki. This open air cinema on Main Street was a temporary location, and on 1 December 1923 they showed the first film at their newly built cinema house. The cinema went on to enjoy various levels of success under different owners until 1939 when it burnt to the ground.

The brothers early films documented everyday life – The celebration of St. Cyril and Methodius, The celebration of Epiphany, St. Georges Day, All Souls Day, local weddings, café openings, etc. but soon evolved into filming massive historic events with scenes of long processions, parades, and spectacles – The Turkish Sultan Mehmed the fifth Rashid, visiting Salonika and Bitola, The Turkish artillery parade in Bitola, The cavalcade on the occasion of the Hurriet and the Young Turks’ Revolution, Alexander Karadjordjevic visiting Bitola, reprisals by the Turkish army against the Macedonian population etc.

The first organized film institution appeared in Macedonia just before the Second World War. The Skopje Office of Hygiene used the power of film to educate the Macedonian people in the fight against poverty, disease, and other social and health related problems. The liberation and end of war marked the real beginning of filmmaking in Macedonia. Varder Film, Macedonia Film, Bureau for Cultural and Educational Film, Faculty of Dramatic Arts, City Cinemas, and the Cinematheque of Macedonia all contributed to the rise of the Macedonian film industry.

With the end of The Second World War organized filmmaking in Macedonia began with the arrival of a variety of professional filmmakers who developed and expanded the parameters of documentary filmmaking.

In the late 50’s and early 60’s a new breed of filmmaker came along. Authors with firmly held aesthetics, attitudes and approaches created a more poetic narrative to present their messages and beliefs. Directors, producers, film and sound editors, writers, composers, cameramen, and actors all came together to develop a new filmmaking ethos.

Between 1956 and 2000, 1166 films including, documentaries, shorts, experimental, and animation are shot in Macedonia. Today there are numerous filmmakers, film festivals, organizations, competitions, and retrospectives. The development of film production has undergone an aggressive expansion since the gaining of independence with many private production companies producing and distributing works by Macedonian filmmakers


Important Dates in Macedonian Filmmaking
1905 - The Manaki brothers make the first “living pictures”.
January 14 1925 - The first modern cinema opens in Skopje. The “Apollo” had numbered seats and a cafeteria in the lobby.
January 18 1926 - The Zrinski Café and its cinema were destroyed in a fire.
1933 -The first film with 20% sound, “The Gypsy Baron”, was screened, with the use of synchronized records.
January 1 1935 - The second sound film cinema “The Craftsman House” opened in Prilep
1946 - First cinema opens in Kicevo April
1946 - The first film with Macedonian subtitles, “Circus”, was shown in Kultura, a cinema in Skopje.
January 17 1948 - The city council of Skopje establishes a company for film showings “Gradski Kina – Skopje (City Cinema-Skopje)
1949 - Varder Film produces a documentary on the First Congress of the Communist Party of Macedonia.
January 5 1952 - Production of the first Macedonian feature film “Frosina” commences.
1958 - The first Macedonian colour feature film, “Miss Stone”, was filmed in total scope.
January 7 1959 - The first amateur Cinema Club (“The Academic Cinema Club”) in Macedonia is established.





 

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