4th International Forum of UNESCO Creative Cities of Film: Women in Media – Highlighting the Role of Women in Media

Vesna RistovskaBitola

The UNESCO – Creative Film Cities forum on the topic of “Highlighting the role of women in audiovisual media”, took place from 21st to 23rd November in the Officers’ Home and in the Manaki Cinema in Bitola.

The forum was organized by the Association for film art FILM CENTER BITOLA, in the direction of improving the reduction of the gender gap in audiovisual media and fostering cooperation between film cities from the UNESCO network, exchange of experiences and good practices and joint action on issues of essential importance in the film industry. The forum was supported by UNESCO through the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of North Macedonia within the UNESCO Participation Program for 2022-2023 and by the Municipality of Bitola.

The opening of the forum was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Culture Daim Lucci, who in his address emphasized that the discussion provides an excellent opportunity to discuss a current issue such as gender equality in audiovisual media.

“Although it is said that good art has no gender, it is still significant to open this discussion because when the film industry is mentioned, it is often thought of as a ‘man’s world’.” In our country, women authors change these stereotypes with their work, and in recent years they are one of the biggest promoters of Macedonian culture in the world,” said Deputy Minister Lucci.

“The participation of our state and Bitola in the UNESCO network of creative cities for film,” said the deputy minister, “is of vital importance for valuing culture as a place for promotion and opening many new opportunities for cooperation in film art.”

During the forum were included high-ranking representatives of the creative cities for film from the UNESCO network – Jordi Hernandez Prat from Terrassa (Spain), Sonia Bachus from Łódź (Poland), Lisa Nawrocki from Potsdam (Germany), Guillaume Rousseau (Valladolid), Kinga Plicht and Lukasz Cichovski from Gdynia (Poland), Biljana Genova, Diana Andreeva and Ralitsa Asenova from Sofia (Bulgaria), as well a several domestic representatives from the audiovisual industry, namely Marina Trajkova from the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, Daniela Stankovska Plachkovska from the RSM Film Agency, Snezhana Lupevska Sozen, editor of “Thelma” television, Maria Djidzeva, film director, Smilka Janevska-Sarkanjac from the Program Council at the Macedonian Radio Television, Mimi Gjorgoska-Ilievska from the Administration for the Protection of Cultural Heritage.

As part of the forum’s program were screened films from the UNESCO film cities network, Macedonian feature films “Second Chance” by director Maria Dzidzeva, “Return” by director Kastriot Abdili and the documentary film “Pursuit of Luck” also by Marija Dzidzeva.

The forum has exceptional importance for the city of Bitola, as an equal member of the creative cities for film from the UNESCO network since 2015, and is one of the 21 cities that are part of this UNESCO film cluster, the only one in the country and one of the few in the region together with Sofia and Sarajevo. The network is a key partner of UNESCO.

Gender equality is one of the developing goals of the United Nations and one of UNESCO’s global priorities, which means that it is recognized as a key tool for social development and is essential for the development of sustainable development. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the continuing denial of women’s rights and violence. Despite the steps taken to strengthen the framework of policies and laws, substantial (de facto) equality remains to be maintained in North Macedonia. Over the years, there have been several steps that strengthen the position of women in society. North Macedonia has ratified the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe and has prepared a National Strategy for Gender Equality 2021-2026.