The oldest Festival in the World devoted to the Craft of Cinematography is the Manaki Brothers. This year it is celebrating the 40th Anniversary in its birthplace, the North Macedonian city of Bitola. The pioneering filming of Brothers Milton and Yanaki is celebrated in this Balkan crossroads with a passion and love for cinematography reaching into the very heart and soul of film. When the Brothers purchased the Camera300 in London in 1905 there existed no manual guide or American Cinematography magazine to help them as they explored the magic of their new art of film making. The first Balkan cinematographers were their own directors, their own editors and producers. They were true pioneers of their craft and it is to their memory and honour that this Festival is held. The skills they learnt are embodied in the make- up of all cinematographers.
Many great cinematographers of the World have been honoured in Bitola: Sven Nyquist from Sweden, Vadim Yusov from Russia, Vilmos Zsigmond from Hungary, John Seal from Australia, Walter Carvallo from Brazil, Roul Coutard and Pierre L'homme from France, Vittorio Storaro, Delli Colli from Italy, Freddie Francis , Chris Menges, Billy Williams and Roger Deakins from the UK. Jose-luis Alcaine from Spain, Christian Berger from Austria and many others. It is fitting for the Festival to honour in this historic year for North Macedonia the renowned Greek Cinematographer, Yorgos Arvanitis . The Manaki brothers today lie in peace, united in graveyards one in Thessaloniki the other in Bitola. The first American born recipient of the Camera 300, will be Ed Lachman who was honoured by Imago in Belgrade this year, as indeed was the Manaki Festival.
Imago as the World Federation of Cinematographers is grateful to the North Macedonian Professionals Association for supporting this Festival. It is a reminder to film lovers of the importance of the role of the cinematographer. Imago is indebted to the Festival for holding annually a Balkan Conference which brings together in friendship nine Societies in the region: The former nations of Yugoslavia, plus Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Turkey annually meet in Bitola to communicate and improve standards of cinematography.
To assist the Festival for over a decade has been for me a tremendous privilege. When appointed President of the International Federation of Societies of Cinematographers, I was advised somewhat vaguely to “look after” the Manaki Brothers. The five directors I have assisted have all shared a passion for film and respect for the skills of our craft.
Cinematographers are fortunate to be able to practise their craft across frontiers. Our cameras are our freedom. You, the viewers of images are our audience- whether watching on ipod, lap top, television or in the cinema.
The initiative afforded to Imago support the Balkan Conferences is an example of cinematographs showing politicians the way through co-operation to a prosperous future by embracing new technology. Cinematographers from the region helped each other in many ways. The Serbs assisted the Bosnians in establishing a Society, Macedonians and Greeks have co-operated in joint ventures, the Slovenians have established the Balkan Film Festival for all Balkan members. None of this would have been possible without the support of the North Macedonian Professionals and the support of Festival Directors, Tomi Salkovski, Labina Mitevska, Blagoja Kunovski-Dore and the encouragement of the present Festival Director Gena Teodosievska.
Imago and cinematographers around the world are appreciated to the Festival championing the pioneering spirit of Milton and Yanaki, in North Macedonia and around the World
Nigel Walters BSC Vice President