MARKET ANALYSIS 2019
SKOPJE: It was a truly exciting year for Macedonian cinematography with great box office results, international success for feature and documentary films, worldwide distribution for domestic titles and their participation in more than 200 film festival selections, and over 60 awards.
Honeyland / Medena zemja directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov won three awards at the Sundance International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere, and it has been screened in more than 50 film festivals worldwide, scooping more than 20 awards, alongside a nomination in the European Documentary 2019 category of the European Film Awards..
The film was the official Macedonian submission for an Oscar in the Best International Feature Film category and on 13 January 2020 it was nominated for the Academy Awards in Best Documentary Feature and Best International Feature Film categories. It is not only the first time when a Macedonian film gets two Oscars nominations, but it is also the first time in the history of the Oscars when a documentary is nominated in two categories.
Teona Strugar Mitevska’s God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya / Gospod postoi, imeto I e Petrunija, which had its world premiere in the Competition at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival, was later distributed in 28 countries worldwide. North Macedonia had a film in the official competition at the Berlin International Film Festival for the first time in the last 20 years. God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya was selected for over 70 festivals and won 25 awards. It also received the European Parliament LUX Prize 2019.
Young Macedonian director Eleonora Veninova’s short film The Sign was selected for the 51st Directors’ Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival. The Sign was among the five films selected to launch the 2019 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight within the collaborative project the South East European Factory.
Renowned Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski’s sixth feature film Willow / Vrba had its world premiere at the Rome FF in October, and it gathered 26,000 admissions domestically in one month. In 2019 Milcho Manchevski celebrated 25 years since the premiere of his debut feature Before the Rain / Pred dozdot (a Macedonian/British/French coproduction produced by Poligram), which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.
The year 2019 ended with another Sundance Film Festival selection. Georgi M. Unkovski’s short film Sticker / Nalepnica was selected to compete in the International Narrative Short Films section of the festival’s 2020 edition.
In June 2019, Hisni Ismaili was named new Minister of Culture.
In 2019 North Macedonia produced seven feature films, six of them supported by the North Macedonia Film Agency.
Igor Ivanov launched the production of his third feature film Homo, a coproduction between North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia and Kosovo, in March 2019. The film is produced by Skopje Film Studio, while Bulgaria’s Gala Film, Belgrade-based Art & Popcorn, Slovenia’s Iridium Film and Kosovo’s Trigger are coproducing.
Stojan Vujicic shot his debut feature Stela, the first Macedonian feature film for children and also the first eco (green) production in North Macedonia. The film was shot in the summer of 2019, produced by Dream Factory in coproduction with Serbian Akcija Production and German MOUNA GmbH Film & Media Studio.
Macedonian Sektor Film finished work on The Hardest Thing / Najteskoto nesto, the first Macedonian film in the Turkish language, directed by the acclaimed Turkish director Serdar Akar. The film is a coproduction with Turkish NTC Medya. The release is planned for 2020.
Vardan Tozija launched the production on his second feature film M. The coming of age fantasy drama was shot from August to September 2019, produced by Focus Pocus in coproduction with Croatia’s 4 Film, Kosovo’s In My Country and Greek 2|35. The premiere is planned for the second half of 2020.
In October 2019, Kristijan Risteski wrapped filming on his debut feature Snow White Dies at the End / Snezana umira na krajot, produced by Vertigo Visual. The premiere is scheduled for 2020.
Dina Duma finished shooting her debut feature Sister / Sestra, an intimate drama about testing the limits of friendship, in December 2019. The film is produced by List Production and coproduced by Videa Production (Montenegro) and Added Value Films SH.P.K. (Kosovo).
One more independent low-budget feature was shot in the summer of 2019 – I Love You, I Swear / Te dua, zimi mene, the second feature by Marjan Gavrilovski, which was produced by PEAK Production.
The Serbian/Macedonian/Croatian/Slovenian/Montenegrin/German coproduction Heavens Above / Nebesa by Srđan Dragojević began production in 2019. The beginning and the end of the film were shot in North Macedonia in a total of nine shooting days. The film is produced by Delirum Films Beograd (Serbia) and coproduced by Studio Dim, Sektor Film, Forum Ljubljana, Max Film and Ma.ja.de. Fiction. The release is planned for August 2020.
The Kosovo/North Macedonia/Albania coproduction Vera Dreams of the Sea / Vera sonuva za more, directed by Kaltrina Krasniqi, completed filming in 2019. The film is produced by Isstra Creative Factory (XK) in coproduction with Dream Factory Macedonia (MK) and Papadhimitri Production (AL).
The Stork / Roda by writer/director Isa Qosja also began production in 2019. The film is produced by Montenegro’s Artikulacija Film in coproduction with ABHO Film and Aba Film from Montenegro, One Draft LLC from Kosovo and Tunnel Film from Albania, and Pigmento Film from North Macedonia.
The long-awaited Slovak/Czech/Macedonian drama Piargy / Fašiangy, directed by Ivo Trajkov, which started shooting in May 2016, entered postproduction in 2019. The film is produced by Arina and coproduced by the Czech company i/o post, Story Scope of North Macedonia and RTVS. Reel suspects is handling the sales.
Dušan Kovačević began production on his new feature film It’s Not So Bad to Be Human / Nije loše biti čovek, produced by Serbian Art & Popcorn, Les Films Fauves (Luxembourg), Terminal 3 (Croatia) and Black Cat Production (North Macedonia).
The French/Belgian/Macedonian coproduction A Mermaid in Paris / Une sirène à Paris, directed by Mathias Malzieu, began shooting in North Macedonia on 30 August 2019. This debut feature is produced by French Overdrive Productions in coproduction with Belgian Entre Chien et Loup and Macedonian Sisters and Brother Mitevski. The film is benefiting from the film incentive programme available as a 20% cash rebate on qualifying Macedonian spend.
Also, a Netflix series was filmed for the first time in North Macedonia in 2019. Netflix’s first international original series from Belgium, Into the Night, which featured actors from across Europe, began shooting at the Skopje International Airport on 1 October 2019. North Macedonia`s Sisters and Brother Mitevski provided the services for the three days' shoot in Skopje.
The main distributors in Macedonia remain MCF MK, Konstantin film MKD, Kt Film & Media, Cutaway and Uzengija, which dominate mostly the art house market. The leading distributors of mainstream cinema on the Macedonian market are Croatian Continental Film doo, 2iFilm, Serbian Blitz Film and Video Distribution and Premium Film.
In 2019 Macedonian distributors applied for distribution support from the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme for the second time, with MCF MK and Kt Film & Media supported in the call for selective distribution, and Cutaway in the call for automatic distribution.
Macedonian distribution company Cutaway received 270,000 EUR from the MEDIA Programme for the promotion and marketing of the Video on Demand platform Cinesquare and for the distribution of audiovisual works online, and launched subscription offer in 13 CEE countries.
The biggest Macedonian distribution success in 2019 was Willow / Vrba by the Academy award nominated Macedonian helmer Milcho Manchevski. This Macedonian/Hungarian/Albanian/Belgian coproduction was produced by Jane Kjortosev through Banana Film in coproduction with Baba Film, Pioneer Pictures (Hungary), Tirana Film Institute (Albania), and Belgian companies Saga Film and BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance. The film was released in cinemas by Banana Film on 1 November 2019 and racked up over 26,000 admissions in 26 cities, out of which 12,000 admissions in the first week. The film was picked up by French sales agent Reel Suspects.
Willow is the most watched film in the history of the only multiplex cinema in the country, Cineplexx, with 9,351 admissions. The film is also the most watched film in 2019 for Cinema Milenium, with 4,907 admissions.
The year 2019 was great for another Macedonian film, the documentary Honeyland / Medena zemja directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov and produced by Trice Films in coproduction with Apolo Media. The film was praised at Sundance 2019, where it won the Sundance Grand Prize in the World Documentary Film Programme, as well as the Special Jury Award for cinematography and the Special Jury Award for Originality. It was then picked up for North American distribution by Neon (which also distributes Parasite by Bong Joon-ho, one of the most acclaimed films in 2019.).
Honeyland was released theatrically in the USA in July 2019 and grossed over 635,383 EUR. It was released in the UK in September 2019 and it is currently available to stream on Amazon. Domestically, the film has been screened in 30 cities in North Macedonia since its release in August 2019, with over 21,000 admissions, of which 6,196 admissions in Cineplexx and 3,169 admissions in Cinema Milenium. The international sales are handled by Deckert Distribution GmbH.
Twenty nine films supported by the North Macedonia Film Agency had their premieres in 2019. Of those, 10 were feature films (five majority productions and five minority coproductions).
The Macedonian/Belgian/Slovenian/French/Croatian coproduction God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya by Teona Struga Mitevska, which was awarded top prizes including the 2019 LUX Film Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 2019 Berlinale, was domestically released in March 2019.
The film, produced by Sisters and Brother Mitevski in coproduction with Spiritus Movens, Entre Chien et Loup, Vertigo, Deuxième Ligne Films and EZ Films, has been sold by Pyramide International to 20 territories including China, Canada, Italy, Austria, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Sweden, Brazil, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Colombia, Denmark and Switzerland.
Domestic films' world premieres included the Macedonian/Serbian debut feature Second Chance / Vtora shansa, directed by Marija Dzidzeva and produced by Small Moves Films in coproduction with Biberche Productions, at the opening of the 22nd edition of the Skopje Film Festival in April 2019. This is the first time when the festival opened with a film by a female director.
Kushtrim Bekteshi’s Unforgettable Spring in Forgotten Village / Nezaboravna prolet vo zaboraveno selo premiered in Skopje in March 2019. The film was produced by Manufaktura Production in coproduction with Albanian Ska-ndal Production, Kosovan Media&Film and Macedonian Skupi Festival.
The Macedonian/Albanian/Kosovan debut feature The Happiness Effect by Borjan Zafirovski opened the 18th edition of CINEDAYS Festival of European Film in November 2019 in Skopje. The film is a coproduction between the Macedonian companies New Macedonian Video, New Moment and Video House Animation, Albanian Lissus Media and B2 – PR & Media Solutions from Kosovo. Ilija Piperkoski’s debut feature film Grandpa and Grandson / Dedo I vnuk, a Macedonian/Romanian coproduction (produced by Pandora`s box production, in coproduction with Dream Factory and Romania’s Alien Films Entertainment) premiered in cinemas in December 2019.
Five Macedonian minority coproductions premiered in 2019. Dragan Marinković’s Leeches / Pijavice, produced by Zillion Film in coproduction with InterFilm Produkcija and Pank Film, premiered in Serbian cinemas in September 2019 and was screened at the 18th edition of the CINEDAYS Festival of European Film in November 2019.
The Albanian/Macedonian coproduction Inane by Besnik Bisha premiered in Albania in 2019. The film was produced by B&G Film Production in collaboration with ArbFilm & 7AAFilm.
The Slovenian/Macedonian/Serbian/Croatian coproduction Half-Sister / Polsestra directed by Damjan Kozole, premiered in the Slovenian cinemas in September 2019 and was screened at the 18th edition of the CINEDAYS Festival of European Film in November 2019. The film was produced by Danijel Hočevar through Vertigo in coproduction with RTV Slovenia, Macedonian Sisters and Brother Mitevski, Serbian Baš Čelik and Croatian Propeler film.
Ognjen Sviličić’s The Voice / Glas celebrated its world premiere in the World Cinema section of the 24th Busan IFF and it was also screened at the 18th edition of the CINEDAYS Festival of European Film in November 2019. The film is a coproduction between Maxima Film, Skopje Film Studio and Biberche Productions.
Serbian filmmaker Goran Paskaljević‘s Despite the Fog / Nonostante la nebbia, a coproduction between Italy, France, Serbia and North Macedonia, opened the International Film Festival of India 2019 (IFFI 2019) in November 2019. The film was produced by Cinemusa S.r.l. (IT) in coproduction with Nova Film (RS), Rosebud Ent. Pict. (FR) and Sektor Film (MK).
The International Cinematographers’ Film Festival Manaki Brothers celebrated its 40th edition in 2019 and honoured the cinematographers Edward/Ed Lachman and Yorgos Arvanitis with the Lifetime Achievement Award Golden Camera 300, while the composer Ljupcho Konstantinov received the Great Star of Macedonian Cinema Award 2019.
The CINEDAYS Festival of European Film celebrated its 18th edition in 2019 and the second year as “Competitive film festival specialised in European first and second feature films”, as approved by the General Assembly of FIAPF.
The Festival of Creative Documentary Film Makedox celebrated its 10th edition by screening 70 films in six sections. The first coproduction forum dedicated to documentary coproductions was held as part of the 10th MakeDox Creative Documentary FF, jointly organised by the festival, the North Macedonia Film Agency and Creative Europe MEDIA Desk MK. The purpose of the forum was to exchange experiences, knowledge and practices for the financing, presentation and promotion of documentary film. The forum was attended by representatives from the funding bodies from the region and the Nordic countries, producers of successful documentary films realised as coproductions, international film festivals for documentary films and TV broadcasters.
Macedonian actor Blagoj Veselinov was selected for the 2019 Shooting Stars, which took place during the 69th Berlin IFF. His selection was proposed by the North Macedonia Film Agency, which is a member of European Film Promotion. The Shooting Stars programme has so far involved the participation of two Macedonian actresses: Labina Mitevska (1998) and Nataša Petrovic (2011).
Macedonian director Eleonora Veninova’s short film The Sign was selected for Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight. The film is one of five short fiction films produced within the Southeast European Factory (SEE Factory), a project made under the concept of ‘La Factory’, founded by Dominique Welinski and Directors’ Fortnight. SEE Factory involves five countries in the region, including the Republic of North Macedonia.
In 2019, the North Macedonia Film Agency organised the Macedonian promotional stand in the South East European pavilion within the Cannes’ Marché du Film for the 9th time.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
Three commercial cinemas (one multiplex, Cineplexx, with nine cinema halls, Cinema Milenium and 3D Cinema Bitola) and two art house cinemas with a regular repertoire (Cinema Frosina and the Macedonian Cinemateque) currently operate in North Macedonia. Another 18 cultural centres (equipped with digital cinema projectors by the North Macedonia Film Agency) screen films occasionally. In 2019, more cultural centres screened Honeyland and Willow, but the North Macedonia Film Agency is still collecting the admissions data.
In its 7th year of existence, the only multiplex in the country, Cineplexx, screened 148 titles. According to the cinema, Joker was the most watched film in the history of Cineplexx with 34,165 admissions. Avengers: Endgame holds the record of most pre-sold tickets in the first week (2,159).
Cinema Milenium, based in Skopje, registered an increase in admissions of approximately 24% compared to 2018. Willow by Milcho Manchevski is the most watched film in 2019 in Cinema Milenium, with 4,907 admissions, followed by Frozen 2 with 3,485 admissions, Joker with 3.243 admissions, Honeyland by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov with 3,169 admissions and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil with 2,591 admissions.
The Cinematheque of the Republic of North Macedonia registered an increase of 35% in admissions compared to 2018, with a total of 20,486 admissions in 2019. The Government of the Republic of Macedonia appointed the Cinematheque as the institution responsible for the digitalisation of the Macedonian film heritage in 2011. In 2012, the Cinematheque launched a long-term project to digitalise and digitally restore the national audiovisual heritage.
In March 2019, four digitalised films of Kiril Cenevski were promoted and released on DVD. Unfortunately, three months later the creator of the first Macedonian feature film that competed and won awards at international film festivals, Black Seed / Crno Seme (produced by Vardar Film), passed away.
The top 5 in the Macedonian overall box office is topped by Joker with approximately 40,000 admissions (distributed by Blitz Film and Video Distribution), followed by Avengers: Endgame (2i Film), The Lion King (2i Film), Frozen 2 (2i Film), Aladdin (2i Film), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2i Film), Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (Premium Film), Captain Marvel (2i Film), Spider-Man: Far From Home (Continental Film Doo), 2 Gisht Mjaltë (Ermal Mamaqi).
The domestic films with the highest number of admissions in 2019 were Willow / Vrba with 26,000 admissions (distributed by Banana Film) and Honeyland / Medena zemja with 21,000 admissions (distributed by Tris Films dooel).
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
Throughout 2019 the North Macedonia Film Agency has been drafting a new version of the Law on the Film Industry and actively developing a new and comprehensive strategy to enhance the quality of national cinematography and increase its competitive advantage in the regional and wider framework.
This strategy includes activities for developing the domestic film culture, with an emphasis on tapping into the young talents, while developing a system for supporting national production and coproduction, and services for shooting foreign productions in the country. Support will be provided as part of this strategy for expanding distribution and marketing, while activities will be undertaken for developing existing professional film workers and for addressing the insufficient supply of film professionals.
In this new strategy and in all other activities planned for the coming years, the Agency will place special emphasis on nurturing women directors and encouraging new women directors to conceive and initiate original and innovative films. At the same time, greater openness and logistical support will be provided for foreign producers interested in shooting their films at attractive locations in North Macedonia, with stimulus provided by the production incentive programme.
In particular, the Agency is focused on boosting the country’s film production tax incentive, increasing it from 20% to 30%, as an effective measure to bring about significant benefits for the national film industry and the economy. Innovation is a top priority in the Agency’s strategy and one that will be achieved by encouraging new film professionals and new ideas and talents, with activities to increase the quality of Macedonian cinematography, investing in new forms and models of promotion. Apart from deepening the already established cooperation with existing partners, the Agency will seek new forms of cooperation that complement mutual work, all of which will help achieve new and greater successes.
There is one call in January every year (with deadlines in March and August) for production support for feature films, documentaries, short films and animated films. The results are announced in April and October.
The Macedonian film budget saw more than 15% cuts in 2019 compared to 2018, with a total of 4.3 m EUR provided by the Budget of the Republic of North Macedonia and from other sources, but the Agency maintained its regular schedule of financial support calls. Ninety two percent of the funds were used to support films and other projects of national interest selected by the Agency as a result of its public call for applications, as well as activities for the development of the film industry and the international promotion of Macedonian cinematography, while eight percent of the funds was used to cover salaries, fees, taxes and the operating expenses for the maintenance of the institution.
The North Macedonia Film Agency launched two grant contests in 2019, supporting a total of 30 films (six majority feature fiction films, ten minority coproductions, six long documentaries and eight short films). The total support for the films is 3,535,759 EUR / 217.2 m MKD for production of feature, short, animation and documentary films. Some of the supported films will start the principal photography in 2020 and 2021.
In July 2019 the North Macedonia Film Agency announced grants for 15 films in the first round of production grants for feature films, short films, animated films and documentaries. An Evening Act / Vecheren akt directed by Vasil Hristov and produced by Kino Oko was the only Macedonian majority feature film to receive financial support.
The five minority feature films included: Vinko Möderndorfer’s Deadlock / Zastoj (produced by Slovenia’s Forum Ljubljana and coproduced by Croatia’s Kinorama, Serbia’s Delirium, Macedonia’s Sektor Film); Pjer Žalica`s May Labour Day (produced by Bosnia and Herzegovina’s FORUM Association for Art and Culture, Croatia’s Propeler Film, France’s A.S.A.P. Films, Slovenia’s Staragara, Serbia’s Baš Čelik, Montenegro’s Artikulacija Film and Macedonia’s Sisters and Brother Mitevski); Isa Qosja`s The Stork (produced by Montenegro’s Artikulacija Film in coproduction with ABHO Film and Aba Film from Montenegro, One Draft LLC from Kosovo, Tunnel Film from Albania and Pigmento Film from North Macedonia); Stanislav Tomic’s Tune Up (produced by Croatia’s Kaos Ltd in coproduction with Serbia’s K12, Montegro’s Cut-Up, Macedonia’s Kino OKO and Slovenia’s Supermarket) and Gazmend Nela’s Silence of Sirens (produced by Kosovo`s Frame & Ikone Studio and coproduced by Macedonian Skopje Film Studio).
No debut features were supported in the first call. The Agency received a record number of applications and due to the reduced budget decided to support fewer projects. The total support given was 1,065,040 EUR / 65.5 m MKD.
In December 2019 the North Macedonia Film Agency announced grants for 15 films in the second round of production grants, distributing 2,470,719 EUR / 151.7 m MKD to five feature films including four debut features, five minority coproductions, two majority long documentaries, one minority long documentary and two short films.
Director Gjorce Stavreski’s second feature Swap / Trampi, produced by Fragment Film, received the highest grant of 489,000 EUR / 30 m MKD. In the debut features category, the biggest grant of 374,599 EUR / 23 m MKD went to Sasa Stanisic’s Women's Day / Denot na zenata, produced by Makedonska krepost, and also to Ibrahim Deari’s Everyone Call Rexho / Site go vikaat Redzo, produced by Manufaktura Production. One of Honeyland’s directors, Tamara Kotevska, also received a grant for her first feature, Man Vs. Flock, produced by Apolo Media, while Srđan Janićijević received 350,169 EUR for his feature film Osvetlen, produced by Novo Makedonsko Video.
The Lost Secret / Izgubenata tajna by Aleksandra Kardalevska, coproduced by Alka Film, received the highest support of 146,582 EUR / 9 m MKD in the minority feature film category. Among the five minority coproductions there are also Gym by Bosnian director Srđan Vuletić (a coproduction between Bosnian Refresh production, Montenegrin Dogma studio, Slovenian Iridium Film, Serbian Cinammon production, Croatian Kinorama and Macedonian Skopje Film Studio); Vinci Vogue Anžlovar’s Grandpa Goes South (produced by A Atalanta and coproduced by Sektor Film); A Mermaid in Paris / Une sirène à Paris by Mathias Malzieu (coproduced by Sisters and Brother Mitevski) and Era by Parta Kelmendi (coproduced by List Production).
According to the data available to the Agency, a total of 220 films were produced in all categories, out of a total of 319 supported in the period of 2008-2019, i.e. after the Macedonian Film Fund was established and later transformed into Film Agency, in accordance with the Law on Film Activity.
In February 2019, the North Macedonia Film Agency announced its decision to boost 18 festivals according to the announced Call for financing projects of national interest in the film industry, for organising domestic festivals and other film manifestations of international character in 2019. Established festivals such as the International Cinematographer’s Film Festival Manaki Brothers, the Cinedays Festival of European Film, the MakeDox International Creative Documentary Film Festival, the Skopje Film Festival and the Tetova International Film Festival ODA received the highest grants. The Agency also supported the newly established Days of the Macedonian Film Golden Frame, organised by the Macedonian Film Professionals Association.
Two films received refunds through the 20% cash rebate on qualifying Macedonian spend - The Liberation of Skopje / Osloboduvanje na Skopje directed by Rade and Danilo Šerbedžija, and produced by Macedonia's Partysans in coproduction with Croatia's Lijeni Film and MP Film Production, Finland's Art Films and UK’s F&ME, in the amount of 41,416 EUR (services provided by Partysans), as well as the 14-episodes season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, produced by CBS Television Studios in association with Secret Hideout and Roddenberry Entertainment, with Alex Kurtzman serving as showrunner, in the amount of 78,775 EUR (services provided by Fx3x).
Starting from 2014, the North Macedonia Film Agency has been encouraging the investment of funds in film or television projects and applying for the right of investment return in the amount of 20% of the gross costs incurred in the country for the realisation of a film or television project, which is not less than 100,000 EUR.
The Film Incentive programme was introduced as part of the new Film Law in 2014. Macedonia started using the cash rebate scheme for film and TV projects in 2015.
In 2019, the Macedonian applicants received a total support of 353,873 EUR in several different calls of the MEDIA Programme. The MakeDox Creative Documentary Film Festival received support for the third year and the ICFF Manaki Brothers received support for the second time. The online platform Cinesquare, which is available in 13 countries in the region, got 270,000 EUR support in the call for online promotion of audiovisual works online, which was the highest grant received by a Macedonian project so far.
The North Macedonia Film Agency became the 34th member of the European Association of Film Agencies, the EFADs, as of May 2019. The Agency joined the EFADs as an associate member, a status open to any film agency located in a member country of the Council of Europe. It allows it to take part in all activities of the association and have partial voting rights.
During the Cannes Film Festival in May 2019, the head of North Macedonia Film Agency, Gorjan Tozija, had an official meeting with the head of the Greek Film Centre, Vassilis Kosmopoulos, which was the first official introduction between the agencies, with both sides agreeing on a willingness to overcome the effects of 20 years of disputes and laying the foundation for future communication and cooperation between their countries.
For the fifth consecutive year the North Macedonia Film Agency, in cooperation with the European Film Academy, organised the Young Audience Award in 2019.
In 2018 the North Macedonia Film Agency signed a one-year partnership with the training programme Less Is More, based on which it organised a Pre-Writing Workshop for local film professionals in 2019 during the 40th International Cinematographers’ Film Festival Manaki Brothers. It was the first workshop of this kind that was organised in North Macedonia, with six Macedonian participants and three from the region (Montenegro, Slovenia and Croatia).
In June 2019, Hisni Ismaili was named new Minister of Culture, following the resignation of Asaf Ademi, who had been appointed Minister of Culture in June 2018.
TV production remained low in 2019, but more domestic series were filmed in 2019 compared to 2018. The fourth season of the Macedonian TV Series Prespav, directed by Vardan Tozija, Eleonora Veninova, Darijan Pejovski and Igor Ivanov, went into production. The 20-episode series is produced by OXO and it was aired on prime time on the first channel of the Macedonian Radio Television starting December 2019. The production celebrated 100 episodes since its release and launched a platform including Prespav as well as an App under the name OXOPlay.mk.
The second season of The Family Markovski / Familijata Markovski launched production at the beginning of 2019. The series directed by Darijan Pejovski is an original eight-episode prime time series created and produced by Emilija Chochkova through Art Project Lab Production with support from the European Endowment for Democracy (EED) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The TV series is inspired by the daily lives of Macedonian citizens. The Family Markovski / Familijata Markovski was aired on TV Kanal 5 starting 9 November 2019 and it is also available on the VoD platform Cinesquare.
The TV series Zoki Poki, based on the best known Macedonian children character, was shot from August to September 2019. The 10-episode series is produced by Kino Oko and received 309,000 EUR / 19 m MKD from the North Macedonia Film Agency. Aleksandar Popovski is co-directing along with Marija Apchevska, Darijan Pejovski and Radovan Petrovic. The TV premiere on the Macedonian Radio Television is set for the first half of 2020.
The very popular educational-musical series Dajte muzika returned with new episodes on the Macedonian Radio Television after 27 years. In coproduction between the Macedonian Radio Television and Rifenstahl production, 30 new episodes directed by Lazar Pakovski and Vladimir Mitrevski were shot in 2019.
TV 24 started broadcasting Loud House / Glasna kukja in October 2019. This is the first teen sitcom series produced by KMK Production, along with Vesna Petrusevska's Acting School. The 10-episode series is directed by Vesna Petrushevska.
In 2019, the Macedonian Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services published the analysis of the market of audio and audiovisual media services for 2018. According to the report, revenues in the media industry are declining year by year. In 2018 they decreased by 6.03% compared to 2017 and are also the lowest revenues in the last five years. Revenues of the Macedonian Radio Television decreased by 8.44%, of the commercial broadcasters by 4.52%, while commercial radio stations' revenues decreased by 3.60%.
At the end of 2018, the financial results of all three segments of the industry - public service and commercial television and radio - were negative, i.e. there was a loss of 1.6 m EUR / 96.91 million MKD. For the first time in five years, the public broadcaster Macedonian Radio Television, reported a loss in revenues.
It is also worrisome that more and more televisions are shutting down each year. During 2018, the total number of broadcasters decreased by eight. From 2014 to 2019, a total of 30 commercial broadcasting companies have stopped broadcasting. Two TV broadcasting licenses were issued in 2018 (TV 3 and 1TV, which stopped broadcasting in 2019). In 2019, there were 49 televisions in the Agency’s registry. There were no new applications for a TV broadcasting license in 2019.
The total revenue generated in 2018 by all broadcasters (the Macedonian Radio Television, 53 commercial television stations and 70 radio stations) was 39.8 m EUR / 2,451,650,000 MKD. Мost of them are advertising revenues representing 54.91% of total revenues. A total of 36.16% are the public broadcaster’s transferable revenues of the Budget of the Republic of Macedonia for financing broadcasting activity, and 8.93% are revenues accomplished on various grounds.
Of the five televisions broadcasting nationwide through digital terrestrial multiplex, the most watched was TV Sitel, whose daily average reach was 38.85%. TV Kanal 5, as in 2017, was the second most watched television, with an average daily of 30.84%, and an average weekly reach of 45.41%, followed by TV Telma with 18.15% daily reach, Alsat-M with 15.36% and the Macedonian Radio Television with 14.40% daily reach.
The most watched foreign television channels in Macedonia are Fox, Sport Club, Discovery, the National Geographic. According to the report, the viewers watched mostly the news on all televisions, followed by informative programmes, educational and cultural programmes, sports in the fourth place, and TV series in the fifth. Most television connections are available through cable television, 48.5% and IPTV, with 27.6%.
Report by Marina Lazarevska (2020) Sources: the North Macedonia Film Agency, the Macedonian Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, Cineplexx, Milenium, Cinemateque of North Macedonia
MARKET ANALYSIS 2018
Macedonia saw a quieter year in 2018, but it was still a good year with international success of both feature films and documentaries, a film agency effectively supporting the development and production of numerous quality films, a growing number of coproductions and increased box office results.
Three domestic feature films were shot in Macedonia in 2018 with the support of the Macedonian Film Agency. Teona Strugar Mitevska shot her fifth feature God Exists, Her Name is Petrunija / Gospod postoi, nejzinoto ime e Petrunija, produced by Sisters and Brother Mitevski Production in coproduction with Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup, Slovenia’s Vertigo, Croatia’s Spiritus Movens and France’s Deuxième Ligne Films, Milcho Manchevski shot his sixth feature film Willow / Vrba, produced by Banana Film and coproduced by the Tirana Film Institute (Albania), Saga Film (Belgium) and Pioneer Films (Hungary)), and Igor Aleksov shot his debut feature Lena and Vladimir (produced by Macedonia’s Mind Production).
One more independent low-budget feature was shot and already premiered in 2018 – Ema, a debut feature by 16-year old director Martin Chikovski, which was produced by Marvie Productions.
The Slovenian/Macedonian/Serbian/Croatian coproduction Half-Sister / Polsestra by Damjan Kozole began production in 2018. It is produced by Vertigo in coproduction with RTV Slovenia, Macedonian Sisters and Brother Mitevski, Serbian Baš Čelik and Croatian Propeler film.
The Croatian/Macedonian/Serbian coproduction God in a Shoe / Glas by Ognjen Svilicic also went into production in 2018. The film is produced by Croatian Maxima Film in coproduction with Macedonian Skopje Film Studio and Serbian Biberche productions.
Slovenian director Andrej Košak started shooting his fourth feature film All against All / Vsi proti vsem, a Macedonian minority coproduction produced by Blade Production in coproduction with Macedonia’s MIND Production and Slovenian Igralsko društvo Daiga. The Slovenian Film Centre is supporting, while Viba Film provided technical support.
Gjegj Xhuvani also completed the filming of Albanian/Kosovan/Italian/Croatian/Macedonian coproduction My Lake, produced by Albanian outfit On Film Production and coproduced by Macedonia Focus Pocus, Croatian Corvus Film and Italian Hermes Film S.r.l.. The project is supported by the National Cinematography Center of Albania and Kosovo, the Croatian Audiovisual Center (HAVC), Cineteca di Bologna, Macedonia Film Agency, Eurimages and the SEE Cinema Network.
Scenes from the Swiss/Belgian/French coproduction Beyond the Horizon / Le Milieu de l'horizon, directed by Delphine Lehericey and starring Laetitia Casta, Jalil Lespert and Clémence Poésy, were shot in Macedonia. The film is a coproduction between Box Productions from Switzerland, Entre chien et loup from Belgium and Elzévir Films from France, with Kino Oko servicing in Macedonia. The film is benefiting from the film incentives programme available as a 20% cash rebate on qualifying Macedonian spend.
MCF MK, Konstantin film MKD, Kt Film & Media, Cutaway and Uzengija remain the main distributors in Macedonia.
In 2018 Macedonian distributors applied for distribution support from the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme for the second time, with MCF MK and Kt Film & Media supported in the call for selective distribution, and MCF MK and Uzengija in the call for automatic distribution.
The Macedonian distribution company Cutaway introduced the first ever multiplatform day-and-date release in three Balkan countries (Croatia, Albania and Macedonia) on 3 May 2018. The dubbed version of the Danish film for children The Incredible Story of the Giant Pear was available for the first time in cinemas and on two Video on Demand platforms at once, Cinesquare.net and Pantaflix. This release pattern and multi-territory releases are being handled by the project CutAway online and offline - New digital forms of distribution of the film in the Balkans - Volume 2, coordinated by Cutaway in partnership with Croatia’s Radar and Albania’s Tirana Film Institute, supported by the MEDIA Programme.
The interest in domestic achievements and regional films increased with Macedonian/Greek coproduction The Secret Ingredient / Iscelitel by Gjorche Stavrevski screening in 27 Macedonian cities and becoming the most watched domestic film with 23,902 admissions by the end of December 2018, based on the statistics by the production company Fragment Film. Almost 8,000 people saw the film at the free open cinema screenings in the City Park in Skopje, organised by Cinema Milenium. The Secret Ingredient became the first Macedonian film that premiered in 14 European countries in prime time on HBOs Cinemax 2 channel. The film is also available on HBO GO. The Pay TV, VOD and SVOD rights were also sold to CinemaWorld Asia until 2020.
The Macedonian/Croatian/Finnish/British coproduction The Liberation of Skopje / Osloboduvanje na Skopje by Rade and Danilo Šerbedžija was sold to China. The film was produced by Macedonia's Partysans in coproduction with Croatia's Lijeni Film and MP Film Production, Finland's Art Films and UK’s F&ME. The Macedonian Film Agency, the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, the Finnish Film Fund, YLE and Eurimages supported the project.
The Serbian feature film South Wind / Južni vetar directed by Miloš Avramović, produced by Režim, Art Vista and Archangel Studios, is among the 10 most watched films in 2018 and ranks among the most watched regional films in recent years. It was released by Konstantin Film MKD.
More Macedonian titles were released in 2018, especially low-budget indie films. Of seven feature films released in 2018, four were indie low-budget films.
The domestic world premieres included the Macedonian/Serbian/Slovenian/Kosovan coproduction Year of the Monkey / Godina na majmunot by Vladimir Blazevski, produced by Pank Film Production and coproduced by Kiselo Dete, Strup Produkcija, at the opening of the 21st edition of the Skopje Film Festival; Jani Bojadzi`s debut feature Mocking of Christ / Ruganje so Hristos, produced by Orion production and coproduced with Macedonian Candela and Slovenian STVA, at the Kinenova Film Festival; the Macedonian/Kosovan coproduction The Return / Vrakjanje by Kastriot Abdyli, produced by Dardania Film Production from Skopje and Skupi Film Production from Kosovo, in Cineplexx cinemas; the independent indie production Digging / Kopanje by Martin Ivanov and Ivica Dimitrijevic, produced by MI Film, in Cinema Frosina; the independent erotic comedy Making Off by Kuzman Kuzmanovski, produced by Auripigment Production, in Cineplexx; the independent low-budget feature Hey / Ej by Vasil Hristov, produced by Diabolik Production, which premiered at the CINEDAYS Festival of European Film, and the teenage feature film Ema by Martin Chikovski, produced by Marvie Productions, in Cineplexx.
Two Macedonian minority coproductions premiered in cinemas in 2018 - The Serbian/Macedonian children film Hunters / Zloginje by Raško Miljković, produced by Akcija Production in coproduction with Macedonia’s Dream Factory, and Victor Bojinov’s debut feature, the historical drama Heights, produced by Bulgaria’s Bulfilm and Serpentine, Nu Boyana, the Bulgarian National Television and Macedonia’s Dream Factory as coproducers.
Macedonian documentaries also premiered in cinemas, including Igor Ivanov`s Cobra, produced by Black Cat Production, Skopje Film Studio, Ajdin Islami`s Local Heroes – World Talents, produced by Super Production, and Senad Abduli`s Why Me?, produced by Arnel Production.
Macedonia had one film selected for 2018 Cannes Film Festival, the minority coproduction The Wild Pear Tree directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, produced by Turkey’s Zeyno Film, France’s Memento Films Productions, Germany’s Detailfilm, Bulgaria’s RFF International, Macedonia’s Sisters and Brother Mitevski, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 2006 Produkcija Sarajevo and Sweden’s Film I Väst and Chimney Pot, in coproduction with ARTE France Cinéma, Imaj, Türkiye Radyo Televizyon Kurumu (TRT), the Doha Film Institute, Nu-Look Yapım and Kale Grubu.
Among the accolades received by Macedonian films in 2018 are: Best International Feature Film for Would You Look At Her / Vidi ja ti nea by Goran Stolevski in the short film programme of the 34th Sundance Film Festival, as well as the selection of the Macedonian documentary Honeyland / Medena Zemja by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska, produced by Trice Films in coproduction with Apolo Media, for the World Cinema Documentary Competition and of the Macedonian minority coproduction The Witch Hunters / Zloginje by Rasko Miljkovic (coproduction with Macedonia’s Dream Factory) for the KIDS section at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
The International Cinematographers’ Film Festival Manaki Brothers celebrated its 39th edition in 2018 and honoured the British cinematographer Roger Deakins with the Golden Camera 300 Lifetime Achievement Award and the Italian actress Claudia Cardinale with the Special Golden Camera 300 Award for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema Art.
In 2018 the CINEDAYS Festival of European Film was recognised as a “Competitive film festival specialised in European first and second feature films” by the General Assembly of FIAPF.
Macedonian actor Blagoj Veselinov was selected for 2019 Shooting Stars within the 69th Berlin International Film Festival. Blagoj Veselinov starred in the Macedonian/Greek coproduction The Secret Ingredient / Iscelitel, the debut feature by Gjorce Stavreski, which was selected as Macedonia’s official entry for the US Academy Awards in the Foreign Language Film category.
Shorts TV bought the television rights for the Macedonian short film Fighting for Death / Borba za smrt directed by Eleonora Veninova. The film became available in Europe, Asia and North America.
Three commercial cinemas (one multiplex Cineplexx with nine cinema halls, Cinema Milenium and 3D Cinema Bitola) and two art house cinemas (Cinema Frosina and Macedonian Cinemateque) with a regular repertoire operate in Macedonia, while 18 cultural centres equipped by the Macedonian Film Agency with digital cinema projectors occasionally screen films. In 2018 not more than 10 cultural centres screened films, but the Macedonian Film Agency is still collecting the admissions data.
The Macedonian Cinemateque (Kinoteka na Makedonija) became a member of Europa Cinemas in 2018 and joined the three other cinemas in Macedonia that are members of this network: Cinema Milenium, Cinema Frosina and 3D Cinema Bitola.
The Government of the Republic of Macedonia appointed the Cinematheque of Macedonia in 2011 as the institution responsible for the digitalisation of the Macedonian film heritage. In 2018, the digitalised film opera and a DVD of the doyen of the Macedonian cinematography, Branko Gapo, were promoted, and also the digital restoration of the feature films of Kiril Cenevski was announced.
The list of the ten films with most admissions in 2018 are: Johnny English Strikes Again (distribution Premium Film), Fifty Shades Freed (distribution Premium Film), Deadpool 2 (distribution by MCF MK), Bohemian Rhapsody (distribution by MCF MK), Avengers: Infinity War (distribution by 2i Film), South Wind / Južni vetar (distribution by Konstantin film MKD), The Nun (distribution by Blitz Film and Video Distribution), Ocean’s Eight (distribution by Blitz Film and Video Distribution), Black Panther (distribution by 2i Film), Venom (distribution by Continental Film Doo), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (distribution by Continental Film Doo), according to the first multiplex in the country, Cineplexx.
Reforms had been foreseen for the film industry, as well as re-examination of the legal decision for financing of the Film Agency, but they were still pending by the end of 2018.
There is a separate call for support for Film Industry Projects of National Interest, which includes domestic festivals and other film events of international character, funding expert and professional education of individuals in film industry professions, supporting educational programmes which promote film culture, the membership of the Republic of Macedonia in international film organisations and associations, and publications related to film industry.
The Macedonian film budget saw cuts of almost 13% in 2018, compared to 2017, with a total of 5.2 m EUR for the film industry and the Macedonian Film Agency, but the Agency maintained its regular schedule of financial support calls.
The Macedonian Film Agency launched two grants contests in 2018, supporting a total of 35 films – 13 feature films (five with Macedonian majority contribution and eight minority coproductions); four long documentaries (three with Macedonian majority contribution and one minority coproduction); 15 short fiction films (14 with Macedonian majority contribution and one minority coproduction) and three short animated films with Macedonian majority contribution. The total support was 4,124,389 EUR / 253,650,000 MKD for the production of feature, short, animation and documentary films and TV series. Some of the supported films will start principal photography in 2019 and 2020 .
The Macedonian Film Agency announced grants for 21 films in May 2018 in the first round of production grants for feature films, short films, animated films and documentaries. The two majority feature films include Igor Ivanov’s third feature film Homo produced by Skopje Film Studio and the debut The Hidden One by Arsim Fazlija, produced by Sejvi Production.
The six minority feature films include From Heaven / Nebesa by Srdjan Dragojevic, produced by Delirium and coproduced by Maja.de.Fiction Gmbh, Sektor Film Dooel, Studio Dim, Forum Ljubljana, Montenegro Max Film; Half Sister by Damjan Kozole, produced by Vertigo in coproduction with RTV Slovenia, Macedonian Sisters and Brother Mitevski, Serbian Baš Čelik and Croatian Propeler film; Hana by Ujkan Hysaj, produced by AJO Pictures from Kosovo and coproduced by Bunker Film+ from Albania and Multimedia Center Domino Production from Macedonia; God in a Shoe by Ognjen Svilicic, produced by Croatian Maxima Film in coproduction with Macedonian Skopje Film Studio and Serbian Biberche Productions; Everyone Against Everyone by Andrej Košak, produced by Blade Production in coproduction with Macedonia’s MIND Production and Slovenian Igralsko društvo Daiga; and My Lake / Liqeni im by Gjergj Xhuvani, produced by On Film Production, Hermes Film from Italy and Focus Pocus from Macedonia. The total support for the films is 1,904,878 EUR / 117,150,000 MKD.
In December 2018 the Macedonian Film Agency announced grants for 14 films in the second round of production grants for feature films, short films, animated films and documentaries, distributing 1,694,308 EUR / 104,200,000 MKD to five films, including two feature films, one debut feature and two minority feature films. Director Darijan Pejovski’s feature film Mimi produced by Skopje Film Studio and Izer Aliu’s feature film Heritage produced by KT Film & Media received 569,105 EUR / 35 m MKD each. Director Eleonora Veninova received a grant of 292,682 EUR / 18 m MKD to shoot her first feature Overexposed, produced by DNF Films. The two minority coproductions receiving funding are Kaltrina Krasniqi`s Vera Dreams of the Sea, coproduced by Dream Factory, and Goran Paskaljević`s My Name is Mohammed, coproduced by Sektor Film.
The Macedonian Film Agency also announced the first public Call for support for international promotion and for promotion and distribution of domestic films and minority coproductions, given for participation in festivals and events and promotion and distribution of films in the Republic of Macedonia and abroad.
On 16 March 2018 the Macedonian Film Agency announced its decision to boost 16 festivals according to the announced Call for financing projects of national interest in the film industry, for organising domestic festivals and other film manifestations of international character in 2018. Established festivals such as the International Cinematographer’s Film Festival Manaki Brothers, Cinedays Festival of European Film, MakeDox International Creative Documentary Film Festival, Skopje Film Festival and Tetova International Film Festival ODA received the highest grants.
In 2018 the Macedonian applicants received a total support of 220,200 EUR in several different calls of the MEDIA Programme. MakeDox Creative Documentary Film Festival received support for the third year and the online platform Cinesquare, which is available in 13 countries in the region, got support in the call for online distribution.
In 2018 the coming-of-age fantasy-drama M directed by Vardan Tozija received the Co-Production Award from Greek postproduction company 2|35 at the 14th Crossroads Co-Production Forum in Thessaloniki. It is produced by Darko Popov (Focus Pocus), who also received a free accreditation for the Producers Network session at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Also, the feature film Mimi by Darijan Pejovski, produced by Skopje Film Studio and coproduced with Art&Popcorn (RS) and Horme Pictures (GR), got support of 8,000 EUR from the SEE Cinema Network.
Starting from 2014 the Macedonian Film Agency has been encouraging the investment of funds in film or television projects through the right to investment return in the amount of 20% of the gross costs incurred in the country for the realisation of a film or television project, which is not less than 100,000 EUR. The Film Incentives programme was introduced as part of the new Film Law in 2014.
Macedonia started using the cash rebate scheme for film and TV projects in 2015. The first films that got investment return in the amount of 20% of the gross costs were the French road comedy A Fond by Nicolas Benamou, produced by French La Petite Reine and Chic Films and servicing provided by Macedonian Manufaktura Production, which spent about 2 m EUR in Macedonia, and Year of the Monkey / Godina na majmunot by Vladimir Blazevski, produced by Pank Film Production, in coproduction with Serbia’s Kiselo Dete, Kosovo’s Ikone Studio and Slovenia’s Strup Produkcija.
In 2018 the Swiss/Belgian/French coproduction Beyond the Horizon / Le Milieu de l'horizon, directed by Delphine Lehericey and starring Laetitia Casta, Jalil Lespert and Clémence Poésy, benefited from this scheme.
According to the film law, several sources add to the budget, such as levies from the TV (0.9% of the annual turnover), cable operators, internet providers and telecoms (1%), distributors (3%) and exhibitors (5%).
In 2018 the Macedonian Film Agency promoted a new strategy with an emphasis on developing and improving the promotion of Macedonia as a destination for filming, and the importance of coproductions with the countries of the region and wider, the attention to female filmmakers, as well as support for young authors.
The Agency also signed several regional and European co-operation agreements, with Bulgaria and Kosovo, as well as with the Macedonian Film Workers' Association, to strengthen joint efforts to improve Macedonian film production.
The Macedonian Film Agency also signed a one-year partnership with the training programme Less Is More , based on which it will organise a Pre-Writing Workshop for the local film professionals in 2019. It is the first workshop of this kind that will be organised in Macedonia.
At the end of 2018, Macedonia signed the revised Council of Europe Convention on Cinematographic Coproduction, updated for the digital age and welcoming non-European countries, which was adopted in 2017.
On 2 June 2018, Asaf Ademi was named the new Minister of Culture, following Robert Alagjozovski, who had been appointed Minister of Culture in June 2017.
TV production decreased in Macedonia in 2018, with only one TV series produced, compared to 10 series produced in 2017. Only the third season of the Macedonian TV Series Prespav went into production. The series is produced by OXO and it was aired on the Macedonian Radio Television in December 2018.
In April 2018, the Macedonian Film Agency announced the winners of its annual funding competition for TV series. A total of 525,203 EUR / 32.3 M MKD was split between one fiction and two documentary TV series. Kino Oko Production was granted 308,943 EUR for the TV adaptation of the popular children’s novel Zoki Poki, directed by Aleksandar Popovski. The two documentary TV series are European Stories, directed by Marko Gjokovikj and produced by DFP Euro Vision, and The Dynamics of the Macedonian Democracy 2006-2016, directed by multiple directors and produced by OXO.
Director Slobodan Unkovski and distinguished playwright and screenwriter Goran Stefanovski announced that they were working on the second part of the cult TV series Bushava Azbuka (which was originally produced 33 years ago), produced by the Macedonian Radio Television and 2BA Production from Skopje, with production beginning in 2019. Sadly, Goran Stefanovski passed away after a short illness on 27 November 2018 and screenwriter Marjan Alčevski continued to work on the screenplay for the series named Bushav Bukvar.
The filming of the TV series Success / Uspjeh also began in 2018. Success is a six-part series written by the Macedonian screenwriter Marjan Alčevski (one of the winners of the HBO Adria First Draft contest) and directed by Oscar winner Danis Tanović. HBO Europe and HBO Adria are producing.
The second season of the Serbian historical thriller TV series Black Sun aka Shadow over the Balkans started production in 2018 with Macedonian actors Toni Mihajlovski and Petar Arsovski again in the lead. The series is produced by Cobra Film Production in coproduction with United Media Group and Slovenian Perfo Production.
In 2018, the Macedonian Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services published the analysis of the market of audio and audiovisual media services for 2017. According to the report, in 2017 television generated the lowest revenues in the last five years. Since 2013, the growth rate of total industry incomes has been negative each year, but the revenues dropped most in 2017, by 10.35%.
During 2017, the total number of broadcasters decreased by six, from 134 programme broadcasters (63 televisions and 71 radio stations) to 128 (58 televisions and 70 radio stations). The total revenue generated in 2017 by all broadcasters (Macedonian Radio Television, 54 commercial television stations and 70 radio stations) was 42.4 m EUR / 2,608,840,000 MKD.
More than a half of this amount (54.48%) is the total income of the commercial TV stations. Revenues of MRT in the amount of 16.8 m EUR / 1,037,490,000 MKD represent 39.77%, while the total revenues of the radio stations, amounting to 2.4 m EUR / 150,030,000 MKD, represent 5.75% of the total revenues of all broadcasters.
Of the five televisions broadcasting at the state level through digital terrestrial multiplex, the most watched was TV Sitel, whose daily average reach was 38.24%. TV Kanal 5, as in 2016, was the second most watched television, with an average daily reach of 33.37% and an average weekly reach of 46.43%.
These TV channels remain highest on the list of the most watched televisions in 2018 as well, according to the Macedonian Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services’ report on daily and weekly references. Almost all TVs recorded a decline in viewing, and growth was registered only by TV21 and the 1st Channel of MRT. The 1st Channel of MRT registered the highest growth in recent years.
The most watched foreign television channels in Macedonia are Fox, Discovery, National Geographic and Sport Club. According to the report, the viewers watched mostly the news on all televisions, followed by informative programmes, educational and cultural programmes, sports in the fourth place and TV series in the fifth. Most television connections are available through cable television – 48.5% and IPTV – with 27.6%.
Report by Marina Lazarevska (2019) Sources: Macedonian Film Agency, Macedonian Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, Cineplexx, Milenium, 3D Cinema Bitola
MARKET ANALYSIS 2017
Macedonian film production budget remained high in 2017 with an annual budget from the Macedonian Film Agency of around 6 m EUR.
Cinesquare.net, the first VOD based in Macedonia and available in 12 more Southeastern European countries was launched during the Cannes Film Festival 2017. In 2017 Macedonia had its first day-and-date release.
The Macedonian Association of Film Producers became a member of the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF). Also in May 2017, the Association of Macedonian Film Distributors (AFIDI) became a member of the International Federation of Film Distributors' Associations (FIAD).
MIDPOINT Intensive Macedonia, a professional training programme, opened to Macedonian creative teams of filmmakers in Ohrid.
Macedonia hosted the 148th Eurimages Board of Directors Meeting, which ran in October 2017 and was organised by the Macedonian Film Agency.
Researcher, cultural manager and culture critic Robert Alagjozovski was appointed Minister of Culture under the new Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the end of June 2017. He succeeded Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska, who ran the Ministry of Culture since 2008.
The Macedonian Government named Gorjan Tozija as Acting Director of the Macedonian Film Agency on 10 August 2017. He replaced Mimi Gjorgoska Ilievska, who had been appointed in November 2015.
The Macedonian Film Agency announced a decision to annul the call for production support for feature films, documentaries, short films and animated films in February 2017 and announced a new call for production support in November 2017.
In 2017 Macedonia decided not to send any film to the Oscars.
Three domestic feature films were shot in Macedonia in 2017 and all were debut features: Ilija Piperkoski`s Macedonian/Romanian coproduction Grandpa and Grandson / Dedo i vnuk, produced by Pandora`s box production in coproduction with Dream Factory and Romania’s Alien film, Borjan Zafirovski`s Macedonian/Albanian/Kosovo coproduction The Happiness Effect / Efektot na srekata (a coproduction between the Macedonian companies New Macedonian Video, New Moment and Video House Animation, Albanian Lissus Media and Kosovo`s B2 – PR & Media Solutions) and Jani Bojadzi`s Angel’s Breath / Zdivot na angelot (coproduced by Orion Production, Icon Plus from Greece and Maku Production from Albania).
Scenes from the action thriller Vijay 61, directed by Atlee Kumar, were shot in Macedonia in 2017. This is the first Bollywood film that benefited from the film incentives programme available in the form of a cash rebate of 20% on qualifying Macedonian spend. The film is produced by the Indian production and distribution company Sri Thenandal Films.
Also, the Turkish children film Honey Cream / Bal Kaymak, directed by Onur Tan and produced by Big Play Entertainment, was filmed in Macedonia in 2017. This is the second film that applied for tax incentives in Macedonia.
The Croatian/Montenegrin/Macedonian coproduction Escape to the Sea / Bijeg do mora, directed by Veljko Bulajic, went into production in 2017. The film is a coproduction between Gral Film, Dogma Studio and Geyzer Film from Macedonia.
The Serbian/Croatian/Macedonian coproduction Leeches / Pijavice, by Serbian director Dragan Marinković, went into postproduction in 2017. The film is a coproduction between Zillion Film, InterFilm Produkcija and Pank Film.
The Serbian/Macedonian children film Hunters / Zloginje, directed by Raško Miljković, was also shot in 2017. It is produced by Akcija Production in coproduction with Dream Factory.
The first Georgian/Macedonian coproduction Neighbors, directed by Gigisha Abashidze, went into postproduction in 2017 and is set to be released in 2018. The film is a coproduction between Studio Artizm, Gemini and Small Moves Films.
MCF MK, Konstantin film, Kt Film & Media, Cutaway and Uzengija continue to be the main distributors in Macedonia.
Macedonian distributors received distribution support from the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme for the first time in 2017.
Cinesquare.net, the first VOD based in Macedonia and available in 12 more Southeastern European countries, was launched during the Cannes Film Festival 2017. The platform is a project of Cutaway and is supported by Eurimages, the Council of Europe and the Macedonian Film Agency.
In 2017 Macedonia also had its first day-and-date release with the Dutch children film Little Gangster, directed by Arne Toonen, which was simultaneously released by Cutaway in cinemas and on Cinesquare.net.
There is still little interest in domestic and regional films, but the Macedonian/Greek coproduction The Secret Ingredient / Iscelitel, directed by Gjorche Stavrevski, was released by Fragment Film in cinemas on 20 November 2017, becoming the most watched domestic film of the year with 9,000 admissions by the end of December 2017.
The list of films with the most admissions in 2017 includes: The Fate of the Furious, Fifty Shades Darker, Murder on the Orient Express, The Beauty and the Beast, Why Him?, Logan, Baywatch, It, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and the Macedonian The Secret Ingredient.
The domestic films which opened in cinemas in 2017 are: the comedy Oh My Love / Ah ljubov moja, directed by Kole Angelovski, produced by Award Film&Video and distributed by Award Film&Video and KT Film & Media; the independent indie production Horse Riders / Javachi na konji, directed by Marjan Gavrilovski and produced & distributed by Emperor Production; the Macedonian/Belgian/Slovenian coproduction When the Day Had No Name by Teona Mitevska, produced by Sisters and Brother Mitevski in coproduction with Vertigo from Slovenia and Entre Chien et Loup from Belgium, and distributed by Sisters and Brother Mitevski, and The Secret Ingredient / Iscelitel by Gjorche Stavrevski, produced by Fragment Film in coproduction with GRAAL S.A from Greece, and distributed by Fragment Film.
The following domestic films had their premieres at domestic festivals: the Russian/Lithuanian/Macedonian coproduction Harms / Kharms, directed by Ivan Bolotnikov and produced by Russia’s Proline Film, Lithuania’s Tremora Uab and Macedonia’s Manufaktura Production; the Bosnian/Macedonian/Croatian/Serbian coproduction Frog, directed by Elmir Jukić (a coproduction between Rеfresh Production from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Skopje Film Studio from Macedonia, Living Pictures from Serbia and Propeler Film from Croatia) and the Bulgarian/Macedonian coproduction Heights, directed by Victor Bojinov and produced by Bulgaria’s Bulfilm, Serpentine, Nu Boyana, the Bulgarian National Television and Macedonia’s Dream Factory.
Macedonia had two films selected for the 2017 Berlin IFF: the Macedonian/Belgian/Slovenian coproduction When the Day Had No Name / Koga denot nemase ime directed by Teona Strugar Mitevska and the Bulgarian/German/Macedonian coproduction Requiem for Mrs. J / Rekvijem za gospodju J., directed by Bojan Vuletić and coproduced by Macedonia’s Skopje Film Studio.
Another minority coproduction, Directions / Posoki, directed by Stephan Komandarev and coproduced by Bulgaria’s Argo Film, Germany's Aktis Film Production and Macedonia’s Sector Film, premiered in Un Certain Regard at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The film had its Macedonian premiere at the ICFF Manaki Brothers.
Macedonian short films were also screened at numerous festivals. Ambi, written and directed by Marija Apchevska, entered the official competition of the Holly Short FF in the U.S., while Would You Look at Her, directed by Goran Stolevski, entered the official selection of short films at the 34th Sundance FF. The documentary Avec l’Amour directed by Ilija Cvetkovski won the third audience prize at the 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival, where Honeyland (directed by Ljubo Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska, and produced by Apollo Media and Trice Films) won the work in progress award.
Eleven commercial cinemas and two art house cinemas with a regular repertoire operated in the Republic of Macedonia in 2017. Fourteen cultural centers also screen films occasionally.
In 2017, the first multiplex in the country, Cineplexx, celebrated its fifth anniversary with more than 340,000 visitors. This is an increase of 6.5% compared to 2016.
City Cinema Milenium, based in Skopje, also registered an increase in admissions of around 10% compared to 2016.
Digitalisation of cinemas continued in 2017 in four cultural centers. Since 2012, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and the Macedonian Film Agency has been equipping cultural centers in all big cities with high quality digital projectors. Cinemas in those cultural centers function as art house cinemas, with programming based on occasional screenings.
Total admissions increased by 7.7 percent from 352,667 admissions in 2016 to approximately 380,000 admissions in 2017.
Most of the admissions (around 340,000) are from Cineplexx, followed by Cinema Milenium and 3D Cinema Bitola (around 13-15.000 each). The rest comes from the cultural centers that screen films occasionally.
There is one call in January every year (with two deadlines in March and August) for production support for feature films, documentaries, short films and animated films.
The Macedonian Film Agency announced grants for 22 films in February 2017. The Agency distributed 1,952,171 EUR / 120,250,000 MKD in production grants for feature, short, animated films and documentaries. The four majority feature films include The Hardest Thing directed by Serdar Akar and produced by Sektor Film, and three debut feature films – Stela, directed by Stojan Vujicic and produced by Dream Factory, Snezhana Dies In the End, directed by Kristijan Risteski and produced by Vertigo Visual, and Lena and Vladimir, directed by Igor Aleksov and produced by Mind Peoduction. The minority feature films are directed by Ivo Trajkov, Marycia Nikitiuk, Dragan Bjelogrlic, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Veljko Bulajic.
In November 2017 the Macedonian Film Agency decided to annul the call for production support for feature films, documentaries, short films and animated films, which was published on 10 February 2017. The call was canceled due to several irregularities. According to the decision, the call was legally due to be announced in January, and this was done in February 2017. Given that the Agency's obligation is to decide twice a year on the call (April and October), no grants were announced in 2017.
A new call for production support for feature films, documentaries, short films and animated films was announced on 22 November 2017.
There is a separate call for supporting film ‘industry projects of national interest’, which includes domestic festivals and international film events, professional education for film professionals, educational programmes which promote film culture, the membership of the Republic of Macedonia in international film organisations and associations, and also film publications.
A decision to distribute 507,000 EUR / 31 m MKD in 2017 as subsidies for production of domestic documentary and feature programmes on national TV stations and the public broadcaster Macedonian Radio Television was adopted by the Government in February 2017.
A total of 22 domestic film festivals were supported by the Macedonian Film Agency in 2017. Established festivals such as the Manaki Brothers International Cinematographers Film Festival, Cinedays Festival of European Film, Makedox Festival for Creative Documentaries, Giffoni Youth Film Festival, Asterfest Short Films Festival, Animax Animated Films Festival and Skopje Film Festival, as well as 15 other festivals, had successful editions in 2017.
The MEDIA Programme’s support for Macedonian filmmakers, festivals and distributors was 198,750 EUR in 2017.
In 2017 the Macedonian/Belgian/Croatian coproduction God Exists, Her Name is Petrunija, directed by Teona Strugar Mitevska, received support from Eurimages. The Albanian/Macedonian coproduction Open Door, directed by Florenc Papas and coproduced by Award Film & Video, was also supported by Eurimages.
The feature film Sister, directed by Dina Duma and produced by List Production, received support from the SEE Cinema Network.
Starting from 2014, the Macedonian Film Agency has been encouraging the investment of funds in film or television projects applying for an investment return in the amount of 20% of the gross costs incurred in the country for the realisation of a film or television project, which is not less than 100,000 EUR. The Film Incentive programme was introduced as part of the new Film Law in 2014.
Macedonia started using the cash rebate scheme for film and TV projects in 2015.
Two films applied for tax incentives in Macedonia in 2017: The Bollywood film Vijay 61, directed by Atlee Kumar and serviced by Mind Productions, and the Turkish children film Honey Cream / Bal Kaymak, directed by Onur Tan and serviced by Sektor Film.
In November 2017 the Macedonian Film Professionals Association and the Macedonian Film Agency organised a panel on the situation in the Macedonian film and the necessity for a change in the Film Law, that would be prepared in 2018.
TV production boosted in Macedonia in 2017 with a total of ten series produced. In accordance to the legal obligation for the national televisions to produce, shoot and broadcast a programme with elements of public interest every year, as stated in the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services adopted in 2014, ten TV series premiered on Macedonian television channels in 2017.
The children TV series True Stories, written and directed by Kuzman Kuzmanovski, premiered on the Macedonian Radio Television. The series is a coproduction between Auripigment and the Macedonian Radio Television.
The second season of the Macedonian TV Series Prespav, directed by Igor Ivanov and produced by OXO, was aired on TV Telma in autumn 2017.
The first season of the Macedonian series In Treatment / Na terapija, directed by Vardan Tozija and produced by Macedonia’s Kino Oko, premiered on Sitel TV.
TV series Shadows over Balkans / Senke nad Balkanom, a three-season political thriller drama set in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the 1930s, premiered on Macedonian National Television in November 2017. It was directed and also produced by the Serbian actor and director Dragan Bjelogrić through Cobra Film alongside Skopje Film Studio.
In September 2017, the TV series Markovski Family / Familija Markovski, directed by Darijan Pejovski, premiered on TV Kanal 5. Markovski Family is an original 8-episode prime time series produced by Art Project Lab Production.
The original 26-episode socially engaged TV series Insider, directed by Igor Ivanov, premiered on TV Telma in 2017. The series is produced by TV Telma in collaboration with Sloboda Film.
In October 2017 another TV series premiered on TV Telma as well. TV Box, directed by Zlatko Slavenski, is the first project by the Independent Association for Affirmation Lumenetika Project, in coproduction with 3D Project Studio.
Other new TV series in 2017 are: the fourth season of children TV series 5+ Family, directed by Igor Ivanov and produced by OXO, which premiered on the Macedonian National Television, the second season of Neighborhood Gossip, directed by Dragan Veljanoski and produced by TV Alfa, and new episodes of the comedy series A Bag Full of Happiness, directed by Troika Studio and produced by TV Sitel.
In 2016 the Macedonian TV revenues reached their lowest point in the last five years, according to a report issued by the Macedonian Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services in 2017. Commercial and public broadcasters generated total revenues of approximately 25 m EUR / 1,540,190,000 MKD, representing a drop of 50 percent compared to 2015.
The financial result of all TV broadcasters marks a loss of 2.2 m EUR / 137,970,000 MKD.
Also in 2016 the advertising revenues in the TV broadcast sector represented 85.75% of the total revenues.
A total of 28 of the country’s 63 TV broadcasters generated positive financial results, mainly from advertising. TV Sitel had the highest overall revenues with 7.69 m EUR (which is a drop of 12.63% compared to 2015), followed by Kanal 5 (with 3.36 m EUR representing a drop of 29.1%) and Alsat-M TV (2.77 m EUR representing an increase of 2.86%).
In 2016 the public broadcaster Macedonian Radio Television generated the lowest figures in revenues in the last five years with 67.50% coming from the broadcasting fee. This is a drop of 7.35% compared to 2015.
As in 2015, TV Sitel was the most watched domestic TV station in 2016, while Discovery was the most watched foreign TV station.
Report: Marina Lazarevska (2018) Sources: the Macedonian Film Agency, the Macedonian Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, Cineplexx, Milenium
Population: 2,093,184 (2019) GDP per capita in USD: 6.275 m (2019) Number of cinemas: 3 commercial (one multiplex with nine screens and two other cinemas), 2 art house cinemas and 18 cultural centers with occasional screenings (2019) Number of digital screens: 14 (2019)Number of digital cinema projectors: 18 (2019)Average ticket price in Euro: 3.5 (2019)Feature films financed through annual programmes: 30 (6 feature films including 4 debuts, 10 minority coproductions, 6 long documentaries and 8 short films)Number of domestic premieres: 5 (2019)Number of domestic features shot: 7 (2019)Annual state support for film industry: 4.3 m EUR (2019)
source: North Macedonia Film Agency, World Bank
Box Office Top Ten 2019
Source: Cineplexx Macedonia
Film Festivals in North Macedonia
Gorjan Tozija Named Acting Director of Macedonian Film Agency.
Interview with Mimi Gjorgoska-Illievska, former head of Macedonian Film Agency
Cilck HERE to watch the interview