Film Camera Festival “Manaki Brothers” (Bitola, Republic of Macedonia, 20th-25th of September)
The best of this Festival is the presence of the great director of film photography Vittorio Storaro – the Winner of the “Golden Camera 300” Award for Life Achievement, and at the same time, the President of the International Jury of the Festival
This 26th Festival story in Bitola, almost by definition (not to say by inertion) still goes o with the same standard teams on rhe behalf of the seventh art. As this Festival is one of the very rare festivals that glorifies the film camera and the people behind it, one can almost always see the festival agenda on the very first day of the Festival. The relatively young organizers of the Festival from the Film Workers Association that organize this Festival for four years now, technically – organized the Festival very well. No late or rescheduled screenings, the commercial video-clip for the Festival was modern and inventive, etc. The Festival Program, by the good old traditional principle, was made by the essence of the prestigious European Film Festivals.
The traditional film selector, Blagoja Kunovski, made the same principle choice this yaer also: the films may be made of “mud”, but what is important for him, they must be selected from some prestigious film festival. So, we saw 12 films from the latest world film production, although in short time we will be remembering maybe less than the one third of them (by quality and their impression on the audience) when we recall this Festival edition. And the only advantage of this Festival for those films is only the fact of the only and single opportunity for our film audience to see this films on the big screen here. The real refreshment was the short-footage film selection: charming, lucid, technically greatly made.
#2 The best of this Festival is the presence of the great director of film photography Vittorio Storaro – the Winner of the “Golden Camera 300” Award for Life Achievement, and at the same time , the President of the International Jury of the Festival. Storaro, the same man that made the Oscar-awarded films as Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,”
“The Last Emperor” by the great Bertolucci, Warren Beatty’s “The Red, than “Last Tango in Paris,” “Tea in Sahara” and “Little Buddha,” honored us with his presence and with a valuable seminar.
Simpatic, middle-aged film Magus, maybe just a little arogant.
Obviously (this time luckily for us), the vanity rises equally in Bitola as in Hollywood, so Storaro enjoyed to answer the long time at the session with the reporters… he also shared with us that Bertolucci, although film magus of great caliber, in his essence was very insecure man within. About Coppola, then again, he told us that as a man and as a film director is firm and decisive: just for his masterpiece “Apocalypse Now,” he spent millions over his given budget, and what concerns the actors and the crew, he spent more than two years of there working time… For his greatest love – the film camera, amongst the other things, he said: “All great movies present the solving of the conflict between the dark and light. There is no single way of expression. There are endlessly possibilities to use the light over the shadows, and the same is with the colors and color shades. The decision one makes about the composition, movement and their endless combinations is what we call film art.”
Storaro was the great solution at this Festival’s edition. After him, in the next years we can expect only less, because he’s the greatest one of all film camera Laureats.
The European Film Awards – given by the political judgement
#4 There was an intelligent decision by the organizers: to open the Festival with the film “Sin City” by Roberto Rodriguez. Not for this Festival by any criteria, but the commercial effect was certain and effective: the audience were enchanted. For those who know Rodriguez’s poetics, it was just another his product, in his manner – exciting: enough; visually: correct.
At this editon of the Festival, there was more space for the American Independent production – although separed by the European one by the organizers. About the Jim Jarmush’s film “Broken Flowers,” the only question is whether you like or hate Jarmush. That also goes for the Gus van Sant’s “Last Days” (of the Curt Cobain, the tragic leader of the rock band “Nirvana”). So different from the “old continent’s” film poetics, those films are the ideal contrapunct of the commercial blockbusters.
The Cannes Festival Winer “The Child” of the Belgian brothers Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne, with their DoP Alain Marcoen is dubious in all of the film levels. It’s a strong impression that the Cannes Jury is favorising the “dark films” from the “pink countries”, or the influence of the Dardenne brothers’ fame decided for it, isn’t important, as in Bitola it went with pale effect, and its significance was just from some informative aspect.
#3 The Berlin Laureate “U-Carmen E Khayelitsha,” the Mark Dornford’s attempt to make a film-musical, is expressive because of its African exteriors. Some kind of the film adaptation of the opera Carmen, with some little subjective director’s perversion to place it in African milieu. The Berlin Festival, maybe to prove its cosmopolitanism, found another way to laundry the collective responsibility through awarding this film.
From the French cinematography we saw the film “Hidden,” although by the Austrian director Michael Haneke. Intriguing story in French style, with highly sophisticated technical approach.
“One Day in Europe” by Hannes Stohr is one of those films that enchants by their beautiful script.
The film of the Palestinian director Hanu Abu-Asad, with his DoP Antoine Heberle “Paradise Now” is the frank story about the Palestinian man-bomb attacks. Very lucid aspect of seeing the poor settlements where only by the misery, some “ideology” takes the place of validity and honor, although the price is ultimate – the human life.
All in al, the European authors are sticking firmly to the already proven film recipe: elementary social story filmed in minimalist’s manner, spiced with attractive actors and human messages.
Those were decisions of the Festival’s Jury:
The Golden Camera 300 Award was given to the relatively “most artistic” (Chinese) film “Peacock,” where the great film is the artwork of the DoP Yang Shu. The Silver Camera 300 Award was given to Alain Marcoin for “The Child,” and The Bronze Camera 300 Award was divided between the DoP Richard Lentchevski for the film “My Summer of Love” and the DoP Gyula Pados for the film “Fateless.” The Special Mosfilm Statue that was awarded for the first time at this Festival, went to Robert Rodriguez for his “Sin City.”
The International nine-member Jury and the audience gave their sympathies to the film “Hidden” by the director Michael Haneke and the DoP Christian Berger.
The Festival atmosphere already seen. The standard “Bitola film.”
In front of the improvised Festival building (The Bitola’s Dome of Culture), on the red carpet there was the defile of all – protocolary politicians, Festival’s guests, local faces, etc.
#7 The 100-years Balkan film Jubilee also brought the mostly recognized Macedonian film authors Branko Gapo, Aleksandar Gjurčinov (but we didn’t see Stole Popov?), that, considering their age, had reserved sits in the café-bars by the red carpet, of course. And as they were nostalgically longing for the “good old times” in former Yugoslavia when they were free to “burn” as much as they wanted from the enormous federal film budget, the new Macedonian film generations were running around the foreign guests in hope for some eventual new co-production deals.
Both of those “groups” got bond by the beer or whisky – whatever. The traditional caffe-bars Rasčekor (with techno & turbo-folk both?) and Porta Jazz (with jazz & blues). On the legendary pedestrian boulevard Širok Sokak again was present the vivid defile of the beautiful Bitola girls and women during all Festival’s days.
One always returns back from this Festival tired and exhausted, just by trying to see all of the films, and although maybe little confused, but one can always create a lovely festival story of it. Or, by the words of the Russian director Vladimir Klimov: “This kind of festivals celebrate the film in greater manner than those with the glamour as a priority. The Festival atmosphere in Bitola was wonderful, so I really think that the ‘Manaki Brothers Festival’ can and should be your national pride.”
Translated by: Petar Volnarovski