7th BSEC Month of Culture
1-30 November 2023
Bitola - Republic of North Macedonia
Bitola is included in UNESCO Creative Cities Network for Film (2015)!
Located in the south of the Republic of North Macedonia, Bitola is the second largest city in the country. The city’s film heritage originated from the early 20th century. Now, this industry represents the backbone of the city’s creative economy.
Bitola’s history of film dates back to the Manaki -or Manakia- brothers who, as film and photography pioneers, brought to Bitola -formerly named Monastir or Manastir- the Bioscope 300 film camera.
But, do you know that Yannakis and Miltos Manaki are the first cinematographers in the history of the entire Balkan region?
Their place of birth and origin was the village of Avdella, in Grevena, Greece. There, at the beginning of the 20th century, they shot the first film in Balkans starring their almost 115-year-old grandmother Despina.
As part of their groundbreaking endeavor, the Manaki brothers left their lasting mark on film culture of Bitola where they lived and created for many years. Since 1979, the International Cinematographers’ Film Festival ‘’Manaki Brothers’’ takes place positioning the city as an international hub for film creation.
As the documentary has become a prominent part of Bitola’s film heritage, many relevant initiatives have been established, such as the International Festival of Non Professional Documentary Film - Camera 300, and the Cultural Summer Bit Festival supporting organizations and directors producing their documentary films.
As a Creative City of Film, and in compliance with the common objective towards which the Network works -making creativity a lever for urban development and conceiving new solutions to tackle common challenges-, Bitola envisages nurturing the vibrant role of film in Bitola’s creative economy -notably by involving public cultural centers, universities, academia and private production companies-, organizing exhibitions, festivals, workshops and other events especially based on the film heritage of the Manaki brothers, as well as exchanging experience with other Creative Cities of Film to foster sustainable and inclusive urban development.
Photograph No 2: Miltos and Yannakis (from left to right)
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