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 shown cinema performances and cinema attendance. The number of shown cinema performances in 2014, compared to 2013, decreased by 11.9%, while cinema attendance dropped by 2.3%.
Table 13: Basic data on cinemas, 2002-2017
|Number of cinemas||27||16||14||14|
|Number of performances||9 114||3 834||5 906||16 228|
|Visitors||431 000||130 000||297 000||471 000|
Source: State Statistical Office: Macedonia in Figures, 2018
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 several 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 MilchoManchevski 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 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 for financing 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).
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 Agency for Film, with a Managing Board and Film Council. The law came to power on January 1st 2014. In 2018, changes of the Law on Film are in preparation.
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 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 digitalized.
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.
The last statistical survey (2014) shows that there were 1 674 employees in the television industry (in 2011 there were 1 771 employees) of which 500 were in the Macedonian Television as a Public Broadcasting Enterprise. In radio stations there were 525 employees, of which 213 in the Macedonian Radio (as a Public Broadcasting Enterprise).
Since June 2013 the TV signal has been completely digitalised.
There are no additional laws or regulations which encourage the production of indigenous programmes with cultural or artistic relevance.
In 2014 there were 20 daily newspapers (22 in 2013 and 27 in 2012) with a daily circulation of 17 727.
One of the most relevant issues in 2012 was media freedom, freedom of speech and decriminalisation of slander. According to the Ministry of Justice, 296 journalists were accused and prosecuted in the past three years for slandering government officials or other holders of public office. Most of them were cancelled but 9 journalists were convicted and had to pay fines of 5-32 000 EUR (in each case). At the same time, some of the so called pro-government media accused several journalists of giving negative information to “Freedom House” about the media situation in the country.
All this, together with suggestions from EU representatives, resulted in long negotiations between the former government and the Association of Journalists about the decriminalisation of slander. The final agreement was that the maximum penalty should be 27 000 EUR, introducing a kind of scaling of responsibility: 2 000 EUR for the journalist, 10 000 EUR for the editor in chief and 15 000 EUR for the media company. At the same time, these cases should not be treated under Criminal Law but under Civil Law. The Association of Journalists has stated that it was the best they could do at the time.
According to the Reporters without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, in 2013 Macedonia was ranked in 116th place of the total of 176 countries, a drop of 22 positions compared to the previous year. According to Reporters without Borders, the reasons for the deterioration of media freedom in Macedonia lies in judicial harassment based on often inappropriate legislation, the lack of access to public data, physical and psychological violence against those who work in news and information, official and private advertising markets used as a tool, the grey economy’s hold over vital parts of the media. No representative of the government commented on the findings presented in the Reporters without Borders’ report.
On the 2018 World Press Freedom Index Macedonia is positioned on 109th place. It is a slight improvement and the Rapport explains that “The fall of the Gruevski “regime” has led to a slight reduction in government control of the media but it is still too soon to be sure of the government’s intention to engineer a lasting improvement in the situation” (https://rsf.org/en/republic-macedonia). There has been no significant change in the economic situation of the journalists, who are usually poorly paid and have none or little job security.
See also chapter 2.5.3.