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.
According to the Government’s Decision on the Network of National Institutions in the Field of Culture (December 2003), the only state producer, “Vardar Film”, was reorganised as a professional 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 were Macedonian, 674 were foreign and 8 were co-productions. The number of visitors was 277 211. Almost 95% of 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 latest data, in 2017 there were 14 cinemas, in 2018 also 14, and in 2019 there were 15 cinemas.
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 announces 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 2020 the Film Agency financed the
organization of 22 film festivals / manifestations and production of 4 feature films with a majority share, 6 feature films with a minority share, 4 debut feature films with a majority share, 13 short films with a majority share, 8 documentary films and 2 short animated film with a majority share.
The 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 the Agency for Film, with a Managing Board and Film Council. The law came to power on 1 January 2014. In 2018, changes to the Law on Film were initiated.
Instead of the old Law on the Founding of the Cinemateque of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia (1974), a new Law on Audio-visual 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 2018, for the first time after the fall of communism, the Minister of Culture Ademi and the Director of the Film Agency Tozija tried to forbid public screening of the feature film “Mocking of Christ” by Jani Bojadzi on the grounds of a lack of artistic value and offensiveness towards the Albanian soldiers of 2001. At that time the film had already won a prize at the Montreal Film Festival and had its premiere in Skopje. On behalf of the Ministry of Culture the Public Prosecution Office even submitted a case to the court. However, after a few days, the case was withdrawn.
The beginning of video production in North Macedonia (as an independent art form) is closely connected with Macedonian Television. Starting in 1985, it produced over 20 videos (financed by the Programme for Culture and Arts) and 2 experimental video films. The experimental video film “The Judge” by the artist Zaneta Vangeli was selected for the Venice Film Festival 2001.