Tatjana Kurcinsa Pepeljugoska • Distributor
by Vladan Petkovic
16/09/2009 - Tatjana Kurcinska Pepeljugoska, the owner and CEO of Skopje-based distribution company Manakifilm, worked in former Yugoslavia as the programme manager of state-owned Makedonija Film. After Macedonia's independence in 1992 she established Manakifilm, the first theatrical and home entertainment distribution company in the territory. Since then, Manakifilm has distributed around 350 European, US and world films theatrically and about 800 films on VHS and DVD, including La Vie en Rose [trailer], Les Amours d'Astree et Celadon, Snow [trailer], Babel and Perfume: The Story of a Murderer [trailer].
Cineuropa: What is the state of distribution of European films in Macedonia?
Tatjana Kurcinska Pepeljugoska: The distribution of European films in Macedonia is not very different from the distribution of any other movie. As Macedonia is faced with enormous problems in its theatrical infrastructure, it is almost the same, hard story to book a US or a European movie in theatres. But the advertising/publicity approach is quite different. The problems of closed theatres and the lack of any multiplex facility remains the biggest issue in the distribution of European titles.
How does Manakifilm function in this situation?
Manakifilm is working very hard to maintain distribution of European movies. In spite of the fact that we are also distributing blockbusters, we insist on the exhibition of European films at the theatres in Macedonia. This is almost an obligation for the theatres when we make bookings. Our approach to this issue is that varieties of cultures have to be presented to the audience as long as there is interest in buying tickets.
Is there institutional support for distribution in Macedonia and is there any hope that something will be done about rampant piracy?
The Film Fund of Macedonia always gives logistic support at home and abroad. There is no other local support. We cannot even think about any sponsorship or similar donations in the country. Of course, there is Eurimages distribution support and it covers some costs for distribution, but it is far from the amount that we have to spend for material and ad/pub costs.
With regards to piracy, Macedonia harmonised legislation in the field of copyright with the EU – the legal experts say that we have a very modern and applicable legislation. Unfortunately, the implementation is very weak and slow. So, in Macedonia you can see pirate DVDs on every street and an open market as if they were legal products. Piracy is a very legal activity, usually covered by the “social” elements – the authorities admit that piracy is hurting the market, but they justify it by saying that people who do it have no other source of income and that they have nothing to eat.
This is entirely wrong – the state discovered that 8.5 million blank DVDs were imported in 2008. If the IT sector uses 2.5 million, that leaves 6 million DVDs that the pirates are using. Selling them for €0.5, they make €3m. This causes theatres to close, and it makes it impossible to replace old-fashioned equipment and to print anything but a small number of titles legally on DVD. And everybody forgets that only we, legal organizations with legal programmes, pay all the taxes, fees and duties in the country.
What do you expect from the San Sebastian Forum?
Primarily, new experiences rising from the discussions. Also, a flow of new ideas and better approaches, as well as improvement in the models of cooperation. I hope these can help in our future shaping of distribution activity in Macedonia. I also hope to see new, good products at the Festival that might be distributed in Macedonia in the future months.