Film Production Halted as North Macedonia Reports Spike in COVID-19 Cases


    SKOPJE: Film production activity remains at a standstill due to a rise in COVID-19, with several productions on hold indefinitely as the number of new coronavirus cases in North Macedonia has increased drastically in the last few days, with several government officials in self-isolation.

    Several shootings have been postponed due to the crisis, including Sabattier Effect directed by Eleonora Veninova, recently supported by Eurimages. Other delayed majority coproductions include Everybody Call Rexho by Ibrahim Deari, Women's Day by Sasa Stanishic and Osvetlen by Srđan Janićijević. The North Macedonia Film Agency is actively preparing basic safety guidelines for filming to resume. The Agency told FNE that although production is currently on hold, there are active preparations for the film production to resume this summer, and the planned production is supposed to begin at the end of July or early August.

    The cinemas remain closed until further notice, although the Cinemateque of North Macedonia is planning an open air cinema in Skopje to begin on 3 July 2020. The Youth Cultural Center, which runs several venues including three cinemas, is also discussing open air cinema plans for the summer. Entertainment and cultural facilities in the country have been closed since early March due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

    Festivals are also facing tough decisions and are discussing creative possibilities. The Festival of Creative Documentary Film Makedox will probably go with a hybrid solution in August. There is still no definite announcement for the 41st edition of the Manaki Brothers International Cinematographers’ Film Festival.

    On 27 May 2020 the government adopted a decision to provide financial support for independent film workers (freelancers) in the form of a payment of a monthly net of 14,500 MKD (app. 250 EUR) for March and April provided from the COVID-19 Crisis Management Assistance and Support Fund. The procedure will be carried out through the North Macedonia Film Agency, which on 1 June 2020 published a public call for applicants who were hired to work on projects that were canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis. The Agency has also given emergency financial support for 27 film projects to assist independent filmmakers and production companies.

    The nationwide state of emergency is extended until 13 June as government officials discuss the possible introduction of additional restrictive measures.