Guide to SKOPJE

“Cinedays” filled the cinemas in Skopje


European films have “occupied” the cinemas in Skopje for whole ten days in a row. The lovers of the seventh art had the opportunity  to enjoy in seventy films, among which the ones directed by Woody Allen, Lars von Trier, Alexander  Sokurov, Pedro Almodovar managed to attract most attention. The festival of the European film “Cinedays” is a chance for the European cinema to test its muscles with the “fast and the furious” Hollywood blockbusters.

– The central focus is on the current films that are produced on European soil and its directed towards the young artists who have made one or two movies and have the potential to become the new Wenders, Von Trier or Sokurov in near future. These are type of  movies that may not seem that  interesting or attractive on first glance, but are similar to the last year’s winner “Kawasaki roses” by Jan Hrebejk  which later on took  over the victory in the Panorama section of the Berlinale. For this purpose, this year we included a gala program, which according to the film lovers was stellar. We had all the films that meant something at the Berlin International Film Festival, Sundance, the festivals in Cannes, Venice, Karlovy Vary, including the major works of Wenders, Von Trier, Kaurismaki, Almodovar, Cronenberg, Woody Allen, said Zlatko Stefkovski, director of the Youth Cultural Centre, which holds the project.

With “Cinedays” the European film got the chance that it deserves. And believe me, it managed to use it in a good way.  Even the most picky film gourmands got a rich menu offer made by the recipes of the Old lady” as its stands written on the poster for the festival.  Or as the filmologist Ilindenka Petruseva writed in her review about “Cinedays”:

“The boys and the girls from the YCC knew that Hollywood is – a cliché, pure business! The art of the film is somewhere else…Because the European film is not only a geographic reference!

Films  with dominant artistic motivation, films  in movement , films in search of  differences ,  films with multilayered meanings, films with intriguing manuscripts, films with a new freshness born  outside the artistic boundaries of the past and the present … European film – it is a troubled sea of ​​author cinematographies that  struggle to find a way how to turn the dream into reality”.

According to Stefkovski, the fight with the expensive Hollywood films and the marketing machineries of the major studios  to win over the audience  is perhaps lost in advance. However,  the more frequent reviews of films from different European cinematographies and the great  interest of the public is a proof that the European cinema won’t surrender.

“The Hollywood blockbusters are sold even before the start of the shooting, so the war is lost in the beginning. The market for them is enormous, the impact is also enormous. That is a kind of a lighter film industry. This industry is more understandable and easier for the wider audience, and the European film is made with far smaller budgets, but still those are movies that  leave a lasting mark. Not that the blockbusters like Rambo or Rocky are not remembered,  but the real values ​​are part of the  authentic  European films as the ones from the  Spanish director Buñuel or other big names like Jiří Menzel and Krzysztof Kieslowski, who are real classics not only in the  European, but in the  world cinema opus.”

The festival which was established ten years ago, modestly accepting the initiative of Pedro Almodovar to create  pan-European Film Festival, has grown into an important event in the cultural life in Skopje.

– Cinedays is different from the other festivals because its characterized with its specific treatment of the European film and the European cinematography, explains Stefkovski.

Golden Star Award for best film in official competition won the Austrian film “Lourdes” by Jessica Hausner. The audience in Skopje had an exquisite opportunity to see the Oscar winner for Best foreign language film “In a better world” by Suzanne Bier, “L’Avr” by  Aki Kaurismaki, “Midnight in Paris” by Woody Allen, “Faust” by  Sokurov, “The skin I live in” by Almodovar, “Melancholy” by  Von Trier  “Habemus papam” by Nanni Moretti etc. Four Macedonian films were presented on the festival-  “The little match girl” by Filip Matevski, “People without a country” by Marko Gjokovic,  “The Myth about  Sarah” by Sasha Stanisic, “Cheek” by Stefan  Sidovski.  The selector of the main selection was the German Bernd Buder, while the festival jury was consisted of the British film critic Neil Young, Croatian director Ognjen Svilicic and the Macedonian director Darijan Pejovski.

Besides the seventy projections in five cinemas around the city, the festival also included a number of  workshops and lectures, concerts and dozens of music performers from Macedonia and several others from the European countries.

Mirko Trajanovski