Phlosophical Film Festival
Филозофски Филмски Фестивал (ФФФ) / Philosophical Film Festival (PFF) is a unique film festival that lives on the crossroads between philosophy and film and is held annually in the Republic of Macedonia. On one hand, the festival tries to promote the idea of film as a medium which can provoke philosophical thought and illustrate philosophical ideas. On the other, it aims to trigger aesthetical analysis’ and investigations into film language as a form sui generis and empower young filmmakers and film workers to reflect on key concepts, questions and ideas in order to translate them into the visual language of cinema.
The Philosophical Film Festival has started as a small Festival in the school year of 2009/2010 at the Institute of Philosophy, Philosophical Faculty, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” – Skopje. This project was a student initiative whose first steps were modest, but made with great enthusiasm on the part of those who have initiated it. The idea in that time was to bring philosophy through the medium of film in a more immediate way to the students of philosophy, as well as nourish the enthusiasm of young philosophers for philosophy, its values and ideas. This could be accomplished only through the creation of a creative non-formal space for free exchange of ideas from where the idea of the Philosophical Film Festival got born.
Since 2010, the Philosophical Film Festival has realised seven editions, and from 2013 after the proven success of its concept it has turned into an annual cultural manifestation of the Philosophical Society of Macedonia. The Festival is already well recognized, the number of visitors has been rising every year, many collaborations with renowned names from philosophy and film in the country and few from abroad have been established, and to the organization of the Festival have joined partner institutions like the Philosophical Faculty from the biggest public University in the country University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius – Skopje”, Cinemateque of Macedonia, University of Audiovisual Arts, European Film Theater and Dance Academy (EFTA), and from this year Youth Cultural Center – Skopje. Also, the sixth and seventh edition of the festival have been supported by the City of Skopje, and from this year PFF has been supported by the Macedonian Film Agency and CIVICA Mobilitas for the first international edition of the Festival .
It is four years now that the Society has formed a team – the Organisational Board of the Festival which functions as part of the Society and which is dedicated on the realization of the program goals of the Festival. This is a dynamic group of young people graduated in the fields of philosophy and film who share a mutual passion for both areas. The dedication and enormous love invested in this project has brought us to seven editions of the festival, the last one opening the festival to the world and hosting international guests and international programme.
Short History of the Festival
The beginnings of the Philosophical Film Festival in 2010 were on the Institute of Philosophy, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” – Skopje where a group of students was meeting every Thursday in the course of one year in the library of the Institute watching films from the great masters of the seventh art – Tarkovsky, Bergman, Wenders, Kurosawa, etc., films with philosophically relevant topics, documentary movies on different topics from the field of philosophy, and also organizing a night of short films which has been held as part of the festival. This year-round film marathon has finished with the unforgettable lecture by Prof. Stefan Sidovski who was speaking on the topic Philosophy and Film in front of a full amphitheater with his public. At that time, these were pioneering attempts in the country for someone to talk about philosophy and film as an area of inquiry trying to bridge the space between these two areas. At the end of 2011 was held the 2nd edition, this time a bit modified version of the festival – three or four festival days rounded with the lecture of Mr. Danijela Petrusheva-Andova from the area of Indian philosophy. The 3rd edition of the festival in the spring of 2013 was held after a year of break after which this edition was symbolically called “The Return of the Owl”. The Institute of Philosophy in Skopje became an epicenter of creative and critical thinking inspired by topics from the area of bioethics, questions arising from the dream-reality distinction, philosophy for children, or ‘Existentialism and Feminism’ – lecture held by the Head of the Institute of Philosophy Prof. Ivan Geparoski after the projection of ‘Les Amants du Flore’ about the life and work of Simon de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. The 4th edition of the festival titled ‘Bouquet of thoughts’ has been primarily oriented towards the philosophy of film going through the works of directors like Tarkovsky, Haneke and Lynch, this time prepared and presented by the young researchers passionate in both film and philosophy.
In April 2015 the Festival has celebrated its fifth birthday and for this occasion the jubilee 5th edition of the Festival was held in the Cinematheque of Macedonia. On this edition for the first time we made a collaboration with the Cinematheque of Macedonia which, together with the Philosophical Faculty, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” – Skopje, has become a second partner institution of the festival. The festival took place in four festival days and the program was divided in three segments: Main program, Additional program and Off-program. As part of the Main program of the Festival the public had the rare occasion on the opening evening to see the first Macedonian comedy, the film ‘A Quiet Summer’ (1961) by Dimitrie Osmanli on 35 mm film. After the projection followed a lecture from the area of aesthetics by Prof. Ivan Geparoski entitled ‘The comic in the Macedonian film: ‘A Quiet Summer”, and at the end of the evening we had a small cocktail for the guests accompanied by film music. The second festival evening was reserved for Lars von Trier’s controversial ‘Antichrist’ (2009). After the projection of the movie, Prof. Risto Solunchev held a short lecture on the topic ‘Von Trier and the Poetics of Decay’ after which followed a long discussion with the public. The last festival day has started with a Master Class of a Macedonian director and philosopher – Igor Ivanov Izi as part of which we projected his short film ‘Bugs’ to the audience, and in the evening the festival was closed with the cult movie ‘Rashomon’ by director Akira Kurosawa and Prof. Stefan Sidovski who, together with the public in the Cinematheque assigned as the jury, has been leading “The Quest for Truth in the film ‘Rashomon'”. Besides the Main program, as part of the Festival was held a workshop for students “Time as philosophical dimension of film” in which attention has been drawn to the students on the substantial nature of time in the creation of film. For rounding up the 5th “filmosophical odysseys”, in May 2015 on the initiative of the first Macedonian philosophical portal ‘Akindin’ we organized a one day excursion to the city of Prilep where Prof. Sidovski has continued the quest for truth with the public. With this event, the 5th jubilee edition of the Festival has been successfully completed.
The 6th edition of the festival – Philosophical Film Festival 2016 has started with even greater ambition, this time to round up the collaboration with all interested parties in the Republic of Macedonia from the areas of philosophy and film. Namely, the Philosophical Film Festival and the Philosophical Society of Macedonia have started a collaboration with the University of Audiovisual Arts – European Film Theater and Dance Academy – Skopje (EFTA) which became the third collaborator of the festival. With this collaboration, the bridge between philosophy and film in Macedonia has been established and we have started a deeper collaboration in the area of film and philosophy. Also, on this edition of the festival we have enriched the educational program including the high school students which listen to philosophy, logic and ethics as part of their curriculum. We made a collaboration with four high schools from the capital and, later on, one more gymnasium from another city of Macedonia has joined the project. The students had a chance to watch a film classic – “The Great Dictator” (1940) by Charlie Chaplin, and then under the mentorship of their professors work on an essay on a topic: “The Great Dictator – A Free Man in an Un-free Society”. The essays have been part of the Competition for Best High School Filmosophical Essay and the three best essays on the awards ceremony have been awarded with one-year scholarships by the film academy, financial awards by the City of Skopje, philosophical literature by a publishing house specialized in philosophical literature, philosophy journals by the Philosophical Society of Macedonia and gifts from the Cinematheque of Macedonia. This year for the first time as part of the Workshop for students called “From Idea to Premiere” with Ana Opacick, MA from ESRA we have announced a Competition for Best Short Student Film on a topic “Freedom”, the leitmotiv of the 6th edition of the festival. The winning film, ‘Realis’ by Andrej Bogatinoski, has been presented in front of the general audience on the closing ceremony of the Festival. The winning essay from the high school competition will be published in the Spring 2017 edition of the philosophy journal ‘Philosophical Debate’ on a theme: PHILOSOPHY AND FILM. The issue which is a product of the long-term work of the festival will contain many of the texts by the lecturers that have been part of the festival so far, and also by professionals in Macedonia who are researching in the field. This is the first focused attempt of this kind in the country for exploration and research in the area of film-philosophy.
As part of the Main Program of the 2016 edition we had three film projections in the Cinematheque of Macedonia. The first one, ‘Un homme et une femme’ (1966) by Claude Lelouch in collaboration with the French Institute – Skopje. Prof. Denko Skalovski from the Institute of Gender Studies, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” – Skopje held a short lecture symbolically called “Simply: A Man and A Woman” which inspired a discussion after the film. The second projection was ‘Kasaba’ (1997), the first feature film by the world renown Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. The projection was organised in collaboration with the Turkish Cultural Center “Yunus Emre” – Skopje and the lecturer Dr. Dejan Zdravkov had an exposé on a topic “Chekhov in Anatolia – Building a Poetic Narrative”. The third and last event from the Main program was the projection of the cult movie ’12 Angry Man’ (1957) by Sidney Lumet with a lecture held by Prof. Ana Dimishkovska, expert in the area of philosophy of law, on the following topic “Justice, Anger and Punishment: How do We Decide about Life and Death?”. After finishing with the official program in Skopje, the Philosophical Film Festival has continued its journey with the PFF Caravan, the travelling cinema of the Philosophical Film Festival, in three cities of the Republic of Macedonia: Prilep, Bitola and Sveti Nikole. In collaboration with our local partners and organizers we have organized three projections followed by discussions with the public inspired by the movies and themes raised by the lecturers. With this we have brought part of the atmosphere of the Philosophical Film Festival also outside of the capital city.
The 7th edition of the Philosophical Film Festival (trailer) was held from 30.03-07.04.2017 in the Cinematheque of Macedonia and it was the first international edition of PFF. After many years of work, the dream was fulfilled – a nine days Festival, with a rich and diverse programme meeting the different tastes of the public, home and foreign guests – professors of philosophy and film directors, lots of philosophical debates, educational programme offered to students and high school students from the whole country, and the PFF Caravan in the second half of April with four stops throughout Macedonia. The Festival continues working in the area of film literacy and promotion of the study of philosophy through film strengthening critical and creative thought on important social and existential issues (especially in young audiences), and contributing to the development of the civil society in Macedonia. By internationalizing the Festival, we also start establishing connections in the area of film-philosophy in the region and Europe with the goal to create a wider network of festivals from the area around Europe and promote the theoretical study and practical applications of film-philosophy worldwide.
The programme of PFF 2017 was comprised of three parts: Main Programme, Educational Programme and PFF Caravan. In addition to this, at the end of May 2017 will be published a FILM AND PHLOSOPHY issue of the Macedonian philosophical journal “Philosophical Debate”, first publication of this kind in Republic of Macedonia. Also, a presentation of the Creative Europe MEDIA sub-programme was held as part of the Festival organized by Creative Europe Media MK.
The Festival as every year unofficially opened with the Educational Programme (EP) in February 2017. A projection of Kubrick’s masterpiece ‘Dr. Strangelve’ (1964) was organized in the Youth Cultural Centre in Skopje and nine high schools from Macedonia took part in the projection of the “video book” and the Competition for Best High School Filmosophical Essay. This year the topic for the essay was “Technology, Power and (Self-)destruction: Can we control the effects of our own findings?” and the Festival received 72 high school essays inspired by “Dr. Strangelove” and the proposed topic. During the Main Programme of the PFF was held an awards ceremony for the EP and the three best essays have been awarded with one-year scholarships by the film academy, financial awards by one of our donors, philosophical literature by a publishing house specialized in philosophical literature, philosophy journals by the Philosophical Society of Macedonia and gifts from the Cinematheque of Macedonia. As part of the educational programme in Skopje the festival also offered a 7-day Film Workshop for students with director Ana Opacic on which the students created a short film ‘Shattered Visage’ directed by Mario Petkovski. The premiere of the film was on the closing ceremony of PFF 2017. Also, as part of the EP in Skopje was held a lecture “The Aesthetical in Film” by Mimoza Rajl, PHD from the University of Audiovisual Arts in Skopje.
The Main programme in Skopje on PFF 2017 besides the Special Screenings was enriched with competitive selections of feature and short films. The two selectors of the Festival – Prof. Kiril Trajchev (Official Selection of Feature Films) and film director And Opacic (Official Selection of Short Films), have selected from nearly 1000 submissions that the Festival received – seven feature films and fourteen short films working on the crossroads of film and philosophy. In seven days the public in Skopje had a chance to see films from all corners of the world (Kyrgyzstan, Austria, Greece, Moldova, Iran, Georgia, Poland, Spain, etc.) and also become part of the selection of the Best Feature Film on PFF 2017 and Best Short Film on PFF 2017 through the voting at the end of each film and the Audience Award. The Jury Award for Best Feature Film and the Audience Award for Best Feature Film on PFF 2017 both went in the hands of the Georgian director Giorgi Abahisvhili for his film ‘All About People’, a Georgian-German coproduction. Mr. Abashishvili is coming to Macedonia on June 4, 2017 for a Special projection of ‘All About People’ in the Cinematheque of Macedonia on which he will be awarded with the “Golden Owl” awards from the jury and the public. In the Short Films selection ‘Zsofika’ by Maxime-Claude L’Écuyer got the Jury Award for Best Short Film on PFF 2017, ‘Limbo’ by Konstantina Kotzamani received a Special Mention on PFF 2017, and ‘Spring Flood’ by Jeannice Adriaansens – Audience Award for Best Short Film on PFF 2017.
As part of the Special Screenings, in 2017 the Festival offered nine events – projections of films followed by philosophical reflections with professors and film directors from Macedonia and abroad and discussions with the public. The programme was opened with Orson Welles’ masterpiece ‘Citizen Kane’ (1941) followed by a talk from Prof. Dr. Lljubomir Cuculovski entitled “Revisiting” inspired by the film. Director Ivan Jovic and scriptwriter Monja Jovic from Serbia attended the Festival as guests with their film ‘The Healing’ (2014) and a Masterclass on “The Theology of Film – Writing with Light in ‘The Healing'”. Special guest on PFF 2017 was director Christine Cynn from Norway, an artist and film director whose newest film release ‘Shooting Ourselves’ (2016) had its Macedonian premiere on the Philosophical Film Festival followed by a Q&A session with Christine Cynn. The film was part of the newly inaugurated PFF Doc. section of the Main Programme in which the festival will try to show philosophically relevant documentaries and open Q&A sessions with the directors and the public. Christine Cynn, well known as the co-director with Joshua Oppenheimer of the Oscar nominee in 2014 “The Act of Killing” (2013), also held a “Storyhacking Masterclass” with the Macedonian public. The Special Screenings continued with the projection of ‘Vanilla Sky’ (2001) by Cameron Crowe and a lecture by Asst. Prof. Dr. Vangel Nonevski on the topic “The Fiction of Cyberpunk as an authentic experience of reality”; Selection of Short Films by Prof. Dr. Stefan Sidovski and a discussion with the professor; ‘Die Welle’ (2008) by Dennis Gansel and Prof. Dr. Jasna Koteska on the topic “The Wave: The Human Psychology and Authoritarianism”. At the end, the Festival was closed with the Awards Ceremony from the Official Selection of Feature and Short Films and the projection of the Macedonian film ‘Dust’ by famous director Milcho Manchevski and a lecture by Prof. Dragan Prole, Head of the Institute of Philosophy in Novi Sad, Srbija on the topic “Aesthetics and Violence. On the film ‘Dust’ by Milcho Manchevski”. After each projection followed a philosophical reflection with the public.
The PFF Caravan as the travelling cinema of the Philosophical Film Festival which brings part of the programme and the atmosphere of PFF in few other cities in Macedonia every year, started its journey in Stip on April 19 on the Film Academy where the winning films of PFF 2017 were presented to the public. On April 21 in collaboration with the International Slavic University ‘Gavrilo Romanovic Derzavin’ in Sveti Nikole PFF organized a projection of ‘Citizen Kane’ as an inspiration for the talk of Prof. Dr. Ljubomir Cuculovski and the discussion with the public that followed after. The PFF Caravan continued on April 25 in Prilep in collaboration with the Macedonian philosophical web portal “Akindin” and Prof. Dr. Jasna Koteska on ‘Die Welle’. The last projection was in collaboration with Debate Cinema “Kontra Kadar” from Bitola on April 26 and the lecture of Asst. Prof. Dr. Vangel Nonevski on “The Fiction of Cyberpunk as an authentic experience of Reality”. With this the 7. Philosophical Film Festival, the first international edition of PFF, was succesfully completed.