Definition August 2024 - Web


Celebrating its 45th anniversary, the Manaki Brothers Film Festival is one of the most unique celebrations of cinematography on Earth. Nicola Foley sits down with festival director Simeon Damevski to find out more F ew events in the world of cinematography hold the reverence and legacy of the these artists – even these big names who make it to the Oscars. They still behave like they’re the humble labour workers on-set. I have so much respect for them.” The festival’s 45-year heritage traces MANAK I MAG I C IMAGES Diogen Hadzi-Kosta Milevski

started shooting documentaries. Their first offering, titled The Weavers , was a 60-second, silent black & white film that depicted their grandmother and aunts spinning wool. It is believed to be the first film shot in the Ottoman Balkans. As their work grew in prominence, the brothers received a royal invitation to become the official photographers of the Ottoman sultan and the king of Yugoslavia, Alexander Karađorđević. They would also go on to open their own movie theatre and document seismic historical events including the Ilinden Uprising and World War I. The festival today honours the legacy of the Manaki brothers with its prestigious celebration of the artistry of cinematographers. Each year, entrants compete for the three festival awards:

Manaki Brothers Film Festival. Attracting the cream of the craft to a quaint town in North Macedonia called Bitola each year, the gathering has hosted luminaries from Roger Deakins to Sven Nykvist and Vittorio Storaro, garnering a reputation as one of the finest film festivals in the world. Its fundamental ethos, according to current director Simeon Damevski, is to honour the work of cinematographers: “Without them, the art of film wouldn’t exist. They are the unsung heroes behind every great film,” he enthuses. “This is the essence of the festival – we care about cinematographers and think of them as part of our family. We want to help grow their talent and promote them. We serve as a platform around the world to promote the new da Vincis and Rembrandts of the modern world; people who embody that understanding of what the old masters were.” Damevski was inspired to get involved because of a personal ‘soft spot’ for cinematographers which dates back to his days as an actor. “My growth as an actor is directly attached to the cooperation with cinematographers – they helped me become a better actor,” he explains. “I am also always so surprised by the humility and decency of

back to the Manaki brothers, early pioneers of cinematography in the region. Aromanians born in the Ottoman Empire (which Macedonia was part of at the time), the pair were originally from a Greek village but found a home in Bitola, where they opened a photography studio. They were, says Damevski, “strange folk for that time – they used to walk around town with a piglet instead of a dog! But they were very much ahead of their time in many ways.” During a visit to London in 1905, the brothers acquired a film camera – a 35mm Urban Bioscope – on which they




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