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The number of cinema showings decreased in 2014 by 11.9% compared to 2013, while cinema attendance dropped by 2.3%.

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FYR of Macedonia/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.6 Film, video and photography

Film production has undergone fundamental transformations since 1991 which has resulted in the reorganisation and financing of films. After the establishment of the first private production house in 1989, the number of producers grew to over 100 firms. However, reality indicates that this unexpected and highly illogical increase in the number of production firms was not motivated by a willingness to promote film production. Quite the opposite, the motivation was to have an opportunity to access public money. Nonetheless, some production firms have initiated a new model of co-productions and search for new co-financers from within the country and abroad.

The only national producer is Vardar Film, which at one time managed to maintain a certain rate of production including several feature films and documentaries. In the period between 1991 and 2000, 12 feature films and 47 short films were produced. According to the Government's Decision on the Network of National Institutions in the Field of Culture (December 2003), Vardar Film will be reorganised as a film centre.

In 1954, there were 77 movie theatres located throughout the country, 86 in 1972 and since 1980 the number has continually decreased. Today, movies are screened in 21 film theatres and 41 cultural centres. In 2003, 704 films were shown, of which 22 Macedonian, 674 foreign and 8 co productions. The number of visitors was 277 211. Almost 95% of the foreign movies originate from the USA, whereas the number of movies from European and other countries is significantly low.

In 1960, the capital Skopje had 17 cinemas, which has reduced to only two today. In 2006, 3 cinemas were closed. The total number of cinemas in Macedonia in 2007 was 16, with 6 686 seats. 426 films were shown at 3 834 cinema performances, with 130 546 visitors.

According to the data of the State Statistical Office, in 2014, compared to 2013, there was a decrease in the number of cinema showings and cinema attendance. The number of cinema showings in 2014, compared to 2013, decreased by 11.9%, while cinema attendance dropped by 2.3%.

Table 13:  Basic data on cinemas, 2009-2014







Number of cinemas







4 804



5 973

6 898

Feature films shown







154 000

119 000

297 493

424 517

414 813

Source:    State Statistical Office, Culture and Public Informing, 2013

Table 14:  Cinemas, 2002, 2007 and 2012





Cinemas – number





9 114

3 834

5 906


431 000

131 000

298 000

Source:    Macedonia in Figures, 2013.

In May 2006, the Law on the Film Fund was adopted by the Parliament. This was actually the first attempt to create a fund for financing culture as a kind of arms length body of the Ministry of Culture. Twice a year (May and September) the Film Fund is to announce a public competition for funding film projects of national interest. Only registered film producers can apply for the competition. A minimum of 75% of the budget should be spent locally. The Film Fund should mostly finance films that can return some of the invested money. The Film Fund should also establish contacts with international producers and distributors and assist in the promotion and marketing of films etc.

In 2008 - 2011 the Film Fund has supported 79 film projects, of which 36 have been completed: 12 feature films, 13 documentaries, 8 short films and 2 animated films. In 2012 four feature films supported by the Film Fund were released, together with 2 documentaries, 13 short films and 3 animated films. 

An interesting public debate arose in the past two years when the government side-stepped the Film Fund and gave direct, additional funds, to 2 films: "Stories from the Wild East" (2 million EUR) and "Third half-time" (1 million EUR). This was not a first time as the government also gave money (500 000 EUR) directly to the director Milcho Manchevski for his film "Mothers". Although most of the public was against the government's direct interference, some of the producers and film workers found it a helpful solution to the Film Fund's limited funds.

In 2013, after 13 years of status agony, the only national producer "Vardar Film" was transformed into "Vardar Film Macedonia", to be in charge of international film promotion, logistic support to foreign film producers, distribution of Macedonian films etc.

In 2015 the Macedonian Film Agency approved financing for 3 feature films with majority  Macedonian support (6 in 2014), 3 feature films with minority Macedonian support (4 in 2014), 1 documentary film with minority Macedonian support, 9 short fiction films with majority Macedonian support (8 in 2014), 1 short fiction film with minority Macedonian support, 3 short documentary films with majority Macedonian support, 1 short animation  film with minority Macedonian support and 1 short animation film with majority Macedonian support (2 in 2014).

Within the 2015 edition of the Venice Film Festival, Darko Basheski, the Macedonian Film Agency CEO and Nicola Borelli, Chairman of the Directorate General for Cinema of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism, signed an agreement for the development of co-production projects between Italy and Macedonia.

The new Law on Film (2013) provided better conditions for private sector investment (domestic and foreign) in the film industry. It foresaw the return of 20% of the invested private funds after the film is finished. The law also increased the amount of the participating funds for a film from 500 000 to 1 million EUR. According to this law the existing Film Fund changed into Agency for Film, with a Managing Board and Film Council. The law came to power on 1 January 2014.

Instead of the old Law on the Founding of the Cinemateque of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia (1974), a new Law on Audiovisual Goods was passed in 2008. The law regulates the basic conditions and working methods of a cinema, types of cinemateques and its set up, technical components, professional staff and other questions of interest. According to this Law, a cinemateque can be public (national or local) and private. The Minister of Culture decides whether these conditions are met.  

In 2009, a new complex with five film depots was built for the Macedonian Cinemateque. So for the first time in 35 years of existence the Cinemateque has optimal conditions for film storage. The new depots will store 12 000 film boxes with 4 200 originals and copies of the national film production. The new depots will also be used for storing museum pieces, photo and video documentation, laboratories etc.

In 2015 the films ("Before the Rain", "Dust", "Shadows" and "Mothers") by Milcho Manchevski have been digitalised.

The beginning of video production (as an independent art form) is closely connected with the Macedonian Television. Starting in 1985, it produced over 20 videos (financed by the Programme for Culture and Arts) and 2 experimental video films.

Photography is considered part of visual art and photo exhibitions are usually organised by museums and galleries. There is also a National Centre for Photography (founded as a private initiative) which is the only cultural institution completely dedicated to photography, but the Ministry of Culture has not paid serious attention to its activities yet.

Chapter published: 06-10-2015

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