In Favor of Milcho Manchevski
Acclaimed Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski won the Golden Lion for best film in Venice for his debut Before the Rain (1994) and his Dust opened the Festival in 2001. He also directed the award-winning films Shadows (2007), Mothers (2010), Thursday (2013), Bikini Moon (2017), The End of Time (2017), Willow (2019) and Kaymak which premiered in Tokyo Film Festival in 2022.
Manchevski lives in New York and in Skopje, North Macedonia.
The problems started when Manchevski reported the Macedonian Film Agency and the Association of Filmmakers for corruption. The State Audit Office, the Anti-Corruption Commission and Transparency International concurred with what Manchevski was saying. As retribution, the political system blocked his projects (the already completed Kaymak and the new one which already won support from the governments of three countries, Leaving Copacabana), pushed a smear campaign in the pro-government media (“Pedophile”, “Criminal”) and made-up criminal charges (refuted by the Ministry of Culture’s own inspection)…
This is a case study of political persecution of a prominent whistleblower who has reported corruption at the highest levels of government.
The Venice Film Festival, in a letter from the festival director Alberto Barbera and the presidents of the two Italian filmmakers’ associations, expressed their support for Manchevski and opposition to the political repression he has been suffering in North Macedonia because he blew the whistle on corruption.
The letter (https://www.labiennale.org/en/news/letter-milcho-manchevski ), signed by Barbera and the presidents of ANAC – Autori, Francesco Ranieri Martinotti, and of 100 Autori, Francesca Comencini, reads as follows:
Letter in Favor of Milcho Manchevski
“Dear Mr. Manchevski,
We are extremely sorry to hear that you are facing a massive political defamation campaign, personal threats, and political and professional blacklisting.
The signatories of this letter – that shows the concerns shared by the Venice Film Festival and the two Italian associations that group the authors and filmmakers of our country: ANAC-Autori and Cento Autori – wish to express to you our unconditional solidarity.
We know and appreciate your work as an artist, always marked by criteria of absolute ethical and moral correctness, of expressive consistency fuelled by a strong sense of social responsibility and intellectual honesty. Since your first film “Before the Rain” that won the Golden Lion for Best Film at the 1994 Venice Film Festival, which helped to make the whole world aware of the existence and quality of cinema in North Macedonia. And then, through your later works, including those made outside your home country, with the constant aim of returning there one day (as you did), to help strengthen a film industry still in need of support to continue growing.
Even more reason, then, to be astonished that your courageous denunciation of the irregularities committed by the agency responsible for supporting Macedonian cinema was followed by an unbelievable ostracism campaign and the continued hostility of the agency whose misbehaviour has, moreover, been acknowledged.
We strongly hope that the imminent publication of the results of the new investigation conducted by The State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPS), will finally shed light on the whole situation and put an end to the ostracism you have suffered so far.
Alberto Barbera, Director, Venice Film Festival
Francesco Ranieri Martinotti, President, ANAC – Autori
Francesca Comencini, President, 100 Autori
Statement of Macedonian Critics
The Macedonian section of the International Federation of Film Critics – FIPRESCI joins the reaction and support for the Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski from the Venice Film Festival and from the FIPRESCI Headquarters.
We want to express our support for Manchevski as a prominent whistleblower on corruption at the highest level. We condemn the persecution against Manchevski aimed to silence him and prevent him from working in North Macedonia.
We point out that this is an example of an institution captured by a political party that is being instrumentalized to persecute authors, causing far-reaching damage not only to the film industry, but also to the entire culture in general. We believe that it is unacceptable to compromise Macedonian culture internationally in this way.
In the future, the Macedonian section will continue to condemn when an author or other professionals in the film industry are institutionally persecuted or stigmatized.
Macedonian Section of FIPRESCI
August 22, 2023
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