Author: Ruzica Despotovska
“An onion has no center. When one cuts through an onion one does not find a central point. The onion has an objective. The objective of an onion is the new onion. This is basically where the idea begins. In Dostoyevsky’s novels there is always a cadence, the story within the story that is not directly associated with the plot, but which, like an onion within an onion, is in fact the core of the whole thing. And there is the comparison to people , because existence itsel cannot be the objective people strive for. It is only justified by the fact that it is the way to something that transcends it”. Swetlana Geier
The second edition of the Creative Documentary Film Festival “Makedox” was opened in Kursumli-an on June 17. After the opening hour and the coctail-party, there was a short presentation of Arsenij Jovkov`s documentary “ Macedonia in Pictures” that presented the most important revolutionaries from the Ilinden Organization and their ideas for the Ilinden Uprising (an organized revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which was prepared and carried out by the Secret Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization)
The official program of the festival opened with the premiere of the English-Brasilian co-production “Waste Land” (2010) by Lucy Walker. This documentary was shot for almost three years and the story is about the well-known photographer Vik Muniz who works on Jardim Gramaco, one of the poorest and most miserable parts of Rio de Janeiro. Another documentary that was screened at the opening evening was “The Woman with the Five Elephants” (2009) by Vadim Jendreyko. The movie of Swiss-German co-production tells the story about Swetlana Geier, who is regarded to be the best translator of Russian literature into German language and one of her greatest achievements is the translation of Dostoyevsky`s five great works known as the “Five Elephants”. The story is full of emotions stimulated from past events and memory retreats once Swetlana returns to her homeland, Ukraine, for the first time after the World War II at the age of 85.
The festival lasted for a week and it took place in two locations in the Skopje Old Bazaar: Kursumli-an, where it officially started and the Children`s Theatre Center. In addition to the main festival program, “Makedox” included workshops emphasizing the ecological dimension of the festival, debates and presentations , as well as exhibitions. One of the exhibitions, “Facing the Climate Changes”, displayed ecological issues while the other presented creative documentary photographies of Macedonian photojournalists.
As part of “Makedox” there is also a traveling cinema planned to take place in six municipalities in Macedonia in August this year: Stip, Gevgelija, Vevcani, Vinica, Lazaropole and Kavadarci. Throughout the entire festival there was a music-part following after the official program and the screening of the documentaries.
In terms of the festival awards, The Onion Award went to Helena Trestikova for the film “ Katka”. The Young Onion Award was given to Mila Turajlic for “Cinema Komunisto” and the Onion Seed Award to Elinor Burkett for “iThemba”. The festival was closed on June 24 with a coctail party and a DJ performance.
In the light of my synopsis of this creative documentary festival, one of the people from the organization team of the festival, Keti Kockova, gave me a short interview.
1. Can you tell me something more about the idea behind the fetsival, the organizers, its primary function and major goals?
K.K: The possibility for organizing this kind of festival has alredy existed as an idea for a longer period of time in the minds of the main initiators. Everything happened without any particular plan, when Kirjana A. Nikoloska, together with Brand Ferro and Petra Seliskar, held an informal meeting and decided how to put the entire idea into practice. Brand and Petra are active in the field of documentaries for several years and they both have an outstanding related experience. Since Macedonia was the only Balkan country without a documentary film festival, we decided to be the first to organize an event of this kind. This was the second edition of the festival. The first was held in June, the previous year. We were very happy, back then, to see that the festival was accepted from wide variety of people coming from different generations; therefore, we have decided that the festival should become a tradition. The entire success of the festival was due to the successful team behind it which functions as one big family. We try to spread our positive energy to the guests on the festival coming from every part of the world. Some of them were so enchanted from the atmosphere that they decided to extend their stay here.
2. What is the structure of the festival and can you tell me something more about the main program and criteria for participation in the festival?
K.K: We offered some additional activities and selections in the program in the second edition of the festival this year. Namely, this year we offered 5 selection programs: main selection program, selection of documentaries from newcomers, selection of short documentaries; also there are new documentaries about the ecological issues as well as documentaries for children and youth. The program for children and youth was held in the Cinematique of Macedonia during the last week of May. The results were very satisfactory if we consider the fact that around 2000 children watched the program. Our goal was to educate young people and children about films and documentaries so that they become more selective in terms of TV programs and films with inappropriate educational content; to acknowladge the fact, thus, that documentaries introduce a new dimension in terms of films, real stories and emotions, that afterwards will make you think. After the films, there were also some very interesting discussions with the children, all of which confirms the success of our underlined goals. I would also like to mention the names of the awards this year. The main award was The Onion Award for best documentary in the main program; The Young Onion Award for the best newcomer, The Onion Seed Award for the best film for children and youth, as well as two new awards: The Award for the Best Moral Approach and The Award for the Best Human Rights Presentation.
3. Can you tell me something more about the symbolism of the onion and the quote from Swetlana Geier?
K.K : The onion was not accidentally chosen as a symbol of Makedox`s identity. Namely, the onion is a vegetable widely cultivated on Macedonian fields. Therefore, the onion presents an important symbol for the Macedonian people. The onion consists of several layers, it makes you cry and, and it is also an ingredient in almost all Macedonian food specialties. Those are the elements typical for the documentary as well. The onion story goes on to exist. This year, undoubtedly, Swetlana Geier`s quote took an important place in the opening and the presentation of the festival:
“An onion has no center. When one cuts through an onion one does not find a central point. The onion has an objective. The objective of an onion is the new onion. This is basically where the idea begins. In Dostoyevsky’s novels there is always a cadence, the story within the story that is not directly associated with the plot, but which, like an onion within an onion, is in fact the core of the whole thing. And there is the comparison to people, because existence itself cannot be the objective people strive for. It is only justified by the fact that it is the way to something that transcends it”. Swetlana Geier
By saying that the onion has no center and there is always a new layer out of it, Geier, in fact, explains the core of the human existence: to surpass ourselves and to strive towards greater goals.
4. So overall, what are your impressions from the festival?
K.K: I can only say positive words about the festival. Everything was according the plan, we were greatly accepted by the audience. I am happy to see that the number of documentary fans increases. I can only add that we are growing up steadily and we look forward to raising people’s interest in creative documentary films.
 The english daily newspaper “Times”, issues about the Ilinden uprising in August, 1903