Филозофски Филмски Фестивал (ФФФ) / Philosophical Film Festival (PFF) is a unique film festival and a transdisciplinary project 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 initiated it. The idea in those days 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 onwards, 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 a 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),Youth Cultural Center – Skopje and, this year (2018), Film institute, Film academy – Ohrid (FIOFA). Also, the sixth and seventh edition of the festival have been supported by the City of Skopje, and in 2017 the first international edition of PFF has been supported by the Macedonian Film Agency and CIVICA Mobilitas, a civil society support program established by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation.
It is four years now that the Society has formed a team which functions as part of the Society and is dedicated on the successful realization of the program goals of the project. This is a dynamic group of younger and more experienced members, graduated in the fields of philosophy and film who share a mutual passion for both areas. The dedication and enormous love invested in the project have brought up seven editions of the festival, the last one opening the festival to the world as a pioneering project in Macedonia and the region (and one of the rare initiatives in the world on the crossroads between film and philosophy), for the first time hosting international guests and offering a rich international program.
Short History of the Festival
The beginnings of the Philosophical Film Festival in 2010 started at the Institute of Philosophy, University “Ss. Cyril and Methodius” – Skopje where a group of students was meeting every Thursday over 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 this project. This year-round film marathon has finished with the unforgettable lecture by Prof. Dr. Stefan Sidovski (also, a well recognized amateur filmmaker) who was speaking on the topic Philosophy and Film in front of a full amphitheater with his audience. 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 the 2nd edition was held, this time a slightly modified version of the festival – three or four festival days rounded of 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 one 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 thought 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 young researchers passionate in both film and philosophy: Perica Jovchevski, Mariglen Demiri and Stefan Palitov.
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 the festival 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 on 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. Dr. Ivan Geparoski entitled ‘The comic in the Macedonian film: ‘A Quiet Summer”. The second festival evening was reserved for Lars von Trier’s controversial ‘Antichrist’ (2009). After the projection of the film, Prof. Dr. 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 was projected his short film ‘Bugs’ to the audience, and in the evening the festival was closed with the cult film ‘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 the student’s attention has been drawn to 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 visit to the city of Prilep where Prof. Dr. 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, to further bridge 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 started to be established and we began a deeper collaboration in the area of film and philosophy. Additionally, on this edition of the festival we enriched the educational program by including high school students which listen to philosophy, logic and ethics as part of their curriculum. The Festival made a collaboration with four high schools from the capital and, later on, one more gymnasium from another city of Macedonia 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 the 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 film literature and DVDs with Macedonian films 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 EFTA we have announced a Competition for Best Short Student Film on the 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 was published in the Spring 2017 edition of the philosophy journal ‘Philosophical Debate’ on the theme: Philosophy and Film (published with the support of Civica Mobilitas). The issue which is a product of the long-term work on the festival contains many of the texts by the lecturers who have taken part in PFF, and also professionals from Macedonia who are researching in the field. This was 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 the topic “Chekhov in Anatolia – Building a Poetic Narrative”. The third and last event from the Main program was the projection of the cult film ’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 continued its journey with the PFF Caravan, the travelling cinema of the Philosophical Film Festival, to three cities of the Republic of Macedonia: Prilep, Bitola and Sveti Nikole. In collaboration with the festival’s local partners and organizers, PFF organized three projections followed by discussions with the public inspired by the films and the topics raised by the lecturers. With the PFF Caravan, the Philosophical Society of Macedonia managed to also bring part of the atmosphere of the Philosophical Film Festival outside of the capital city.
PFF “Golden Owls”