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    Bitola Keeps on Filming

    By Martin Blaney | November 3, 2010

    Jury President Vilmos Zsigmond presents the Golden Camera 300 to Martin Gschlacht for Women Without Men, courtesy Manaki Brothers

    Jury President Vilmos Zsigmond presents the Golden Camera 300 to Martin Gschlacht for Women Without Men, courtesy Manaki Brothers

    Now into its third decade, the Manaki Brothers International Cinematographers’ Film Festival in Bitola, Macedonia, followed last year’s motto of “Keep on Dreaming” with a new one, “Keep on Filming”, as the event changed its dates from the end of September to the middle of October.

    Actress-producer Labina Mitevska served as the festival director and built upon the successful formula introduced for the 30th anniversary edition last year of an extensive film programme – a record 95 films in 2010 – combined with a series of supporting educational and information events for the local filmmakers.

    Away from the film programme, Manaki Brothers 2010 continued its Script Corner workshop for young screenwriters, introduced a series of workshops for budding local film critics, and played host to some 80 students coming from film schools from Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, France and Israel.

    The 31st edition opened with the local gala premiere of Milcho Manchevski’s new film Mothers, a mystifying mix of fiction and documentary, which has been reportedly invited to screen in the Berlinale’s Panorama next February.

    Moreover, the festival was blessed with a sprinkling of Hollywood glamour on the first weekend through the presence of actress Daryl Hannah who was presented with the Special Golden Camera 300 Award for an Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema Art.

    This year’s Official Competition International Jury was headed by veteran DoP Vilmos Zsigmond (You Will Meet A Dark Stranger) and included last year’s Golden Camera 300 winner Natasha Braier (The Milk Of Sorrow), as well as Christine Dollhofer, director of the Crossing Europe film festival in Linz.

    No less than five of 12 competition films were co-productions made with Germany ranging from Jaco van Dormael’s Mr Nobody, Semih Kaplanoglu’s Golden Bear winner Bal to Shirin Neshat’s feature debut Women Without Men and Samuel Maoz’s Golden Lion winner Lebanon.

    The decision to hold the festival later in the autumn had been made to enable more cinematographers to travel to Bitola to represent their films in person, and several of them took the opportunity to meet colleagues and exchange views about the state of cinematography. Benoit Debie came from France for Enter The Void, Daniel Bouquet from The Netherlands for Nothing Personal, and Giora Bejach from Israel for Lebanon. A previous jury member in Bitola, Martin Gschlacht arrived from Austria to present Women Without Men, while Hungary’s Adám Fillenz was here in person for Pal Adrienn screening in the New Visions sidebar.

    In addition, veteran British cinematographer Roger Pratt (12 Monkeys) was in town to be honoured with a Special Golden Camera 300 Award for an Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema Art.

    This year’s Golden Camera 300 went deservedly to Martin Gschlacht for his work on Women Without Men. “If there was ever a perfect lighting and composition for a certain movie, this film shows what that lighting and composition could do,” the jury declared.

    Meanwhile, the Silver Camera 300 was presented to Benoit Debie for creating “a new, unknown world” in Enter The Void, and the Bronze Camera 300 was awarded to Giora Bejach for his lighting of Lebanon. “The cinematographer had a very challenging job, shooting almost the entire movie within a small tank. He had come up with very creative lighting ideas, working in the most gruelling conditions,” the jury observed.

    In addition, other awards were handed out to cinematographers Christoph Beaucarne (Mr Nobody), Daniel Bouquet (Nothing Personal) and Adam Filenz (Pal Adrienn).

    Then, before the closing film You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, Vilmos Zsigmond was presented with the Golden Camera 300 Lifetime Achievement Award and the Award for Cultural Diplomacy by the US Ambassador.

    Programme selector Blagoja Kunovski and his colleagues of the sidebars should be congratulated for putting such an eclectic and thought-provoking programme together, while Labina Mitevska ensured in her gentle and unfussy manner that her second outing as festival director was as friendly and intimate as last year’s edition.

    More information about the festival can be found at www.manaki.com.mk.

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