SKOPJE: Willow / Vrba, the sixth feature film by the Academy award nominated Macedonian helmer Milcho Manchevski, and documentary Honeyland / Medena zemja directed by Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, which has received two Oscar nominations, topped the local charts of domestic films in North Macedonia in 2019.
Official statistics are not yet available, but Willow, which opened in cinemas on 1 November 2019, racked up over 26,000 admissions in 26 cities, out of which 12,000 only in the first week. It is confirmed that the film has set a new record in the history of the only multiplexx cinema in the country, Cineplexx, with 9,351 admissions.
As a comparison, in 2018 all national films had a total of 7,704 admissions in cinemas and 13,676 EUR / 841,089 MKD gross. Gjorche Stavreski`s The Secret Ingredient / Iscelitel (Fragment Film), which was released in 2017, was North Macedonia’s domestic box office topper with 2,916 admissions in 2018.
Willow was also at the top of the list of the most watched films in Cinema Milenium for 2019 with 4,907 admissions. The Macedonian/Hungarian/Albanian/Belgian coproduction was produced by Jane Kjortosev through Banana Film in coproduction with Baba Film, Pioneer Pictures (Hungary), Tirana Film Institute (Albania) and Belgian companies Saga Film and BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance. It was distributed by Banana Film in North Macedonia and in January 2020 it was picked up by French sales agent Reel Suspects.
The second most successful domestic film in 2019, Honeyland / Medena zemja was screened in 30 cities in North Macedonia since its premiere in August 2019, with more than 21,000 admissions. It is the fifth most watched domestic film in Cineplexx`s history, with 6,196 admissions, and it ended in the fourth place as the most watched film in Cinema Milenium in 2019, with 3,169 admissions.
Honeyland was praised at Sundance 2019, where it won the Sundance Grand Prize in the World Documentary Film Program, as well as a Special Jury Award for cinematography and another Special Jury Award for Originality. It was then picked up for North American distribution by Neon from the sales agent Deckert Distribution GmbH.
In January 2020, Honeyland received nominations for the 92nd Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards in the Best International Feature Film section and the Best Documentary Feature section, making it the first ever Macedonian film that has received two Oscar nominations.
Bal-Can-Can (2005) directed by Darko Mitrevski and produced by Partysans Film, remains the most watched domestic film of all times with over 100,000 admissions.