Producers on the Move - FYR of Macedonia
by Vladan Petkovic
- Macedonian actress and producer Labina Mitevska started her career in the 1994 Venice Golden Lion winner Before the Rain, and followed it up with roles in 20 more films
Macedonian actress and producer Labina Mitevska started her career in the 1994 Venice Golden Lion winner Before the Rain, and followed it up with roles in 20 more films. In 2001, with her brother Vuk and sister Teona, she established the production company Sisters and Brother Mitevski, where they made numerous short and feature films, including three features directed by Teona. Their last effort, The Woman Who Brushed Off Her Tears, starring Victoria Abril and Labina herself world premiered at the 2012 Berlinale and later screened in the competition of the Sarajevo Film Festival. In addition, since 2009, Labina has been heading the IFFC Brother Manaki in Bitola, the oldest festival in the world dedicated to cinematographers.
Cineuropa: How did you finance The Woman Who Brushed Off Her Tears, and what do you think of its reception?
Labina Mitevska: It was perhaps the biggest project for our company. The financing was challenging, it was a co-production between Macedonia, Belgium, Slovenia and Germany, with support from Eurimages. So, from the production point it was such a challenge. But it turned out to be a great film which we are very proud of.
As a company, we are dedicated to art-house films and we are treating the film as an art form and nothing less and nothing else. Today in the film industry, we are finding less and less support for auteur films – the films that are best received by the critics and that are supported by majority of funds are very straightforward. Every attempt at rich and complex visualization is immediately taken as overly pronounced aesthetization. For us, cinema is poetic, artistic, imaginative. We will continue to create what we really believe in and we will never compromise our art.
You are now working on Teona’s new film Apartment. What do you like to do best as a producer?
Teona as a director is always interested in socially engaged stories, and this is one of them. It is developed by her, together with Pawel Pawlikowski. For me, the pre-production and putting all the conditions together to enable the start of the shooting is one of the most interesting aspects of the producing. The initial shaping of the project is also a very creative period.
Coming from a small country, we have to co-produce, but it is exactly this that is incredibly enriching for film-making and for me the only way to do it. In Europe, we have amazing creative departments and talents and with each film we make we bring amazing professionals from so many countries in Europe to work on a Macedonian film.
What do you think of the production landscape in the Balkans, and particularly in Macedonia? Is there interest in local and regional films in Macedonia? There is now a new multiplex in Skopje - are people going to the movies more often?
I definitely think that in the Balkans, we have many interesting directors and stories to tell, but unfortunately not so many great films are coming out of the region, and this puzzles me. The past 20 years were such turbulent times that it’s expected that we must have things to say, so many interesting and painful things to comment and reflect upon, but somehow we have not managed to make very interesting films - we don’t have a new Makavejev or Aleksandar Petrovic. Even the budgets and the money are not the problem, each of the countries has its own funds that are not so poor, if we take into account the financial crises that have certainly taken their toll.
The regional affinity and shared cultural codes are increasingly withering away, in spite of similarities and commonly shared misery of the everlasting transition. Turkish TV soap opera seem to have managed to hit the nerve but, on the other hand, Bilge Ceylan or Kaplanoglu are not getting into cinemas. There seems to be something wrong about that, doesn’t there?
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