Manaki Cinema

After the end of the First World War, Bitola was practically destroyed by the two-year bombing, with a large number of human casualties. In 1919 Janaki returned to Bitola and together with Milton they renewed the work of the photography studio.
Poverty reigned in Bitola at that time and although at first their work was not going well, things slowly stabilized, and at the same time the brothers considered expanding their business.

In 1921, they bought a yard on Shirok Sokak with the intention of building a cinema hall and founded the Manaki Cinema. The first cinema screening was shown in the summer garden in August, and in the spring of 1922 the construction of the building began.

Јанаки и Милтон Манаки со мајсторите што го градат фотоателјето во Битола (1904 г)
Brothers Milton and Janaki (first and second left) with the masters who built the photo studio

The project for the new cinema building was simple, but even during the construction, two walls collapsed, which created new financial difficulties for the Manaki Brothers, who had already spent all their money. With a loan from the Mortgage Bank and an investment from their new partners Kosta Chomu and Dimitrie Georgievski, they managed to complete the facility and bought the necessary equipment for the cinema functioning.

They already had a good cooperation with Kosta Chomu, especially in the period from 1921 to 1922 when they organized numerous cinema performances at three places in the city – in the halls of the hotels “Bosnia” and “America” and in the cinema garden “Manaki”.

Manaki Cinema during the construction

The newly built facility of the “Manaki” cinema provided all the conditions for uninterrupted work. It was well equipped with the necessary equipment and there were total 373 seats in the cinema hall. In the beginning, the work went normally and innovative efforts were made to attract the audience, but over time the number of visitors to the cinema screenings began to decline, which in 1925 brought the question of profitability working. The partner owners soon withdrew and in 1927 the cinema was wholly owned by the Manaki Brothers, who were already financially exhausted and in debt. During that period, both in the world and in Bitola, the economic crisis was felt more and more, as well as the pressure of the competition, due to which the work in the photography studio was slowly decreasing.

It was really difficult to attract an audience and it took special effort and innovation to animate it. Special posters were printed, cinema screenings were advertised in an innovative way, and the screenings themselves were enriched with additional content. Screenings of silent films were often accompanied by music orchestras.

The world in that period was in an increasingly severe economic crisis, the competition was increasing, and the handling of the equipment was especially risky, which further increased the price of cinema tickets. The audience was constantly shrinking, and the annuities from the Mortgage Bank were a huge financial pressure.
In the period 1928-1930, the cinema was rented by Risto Zerde from Prilep, a film actor, who at the beginning managed to improve the work a little, but still the desired results were not achieved.

Due to the irregular payment of annuities to the Mortgage Bank, the financial problems of the Manaki Brothers became huge and in 1933 a bankruptcy of the cinema was announced, which gave the bank the right to manage with it.
In 1937, the rented cinema was taken over again by Risto Zerde, who signed a 10-year contract with the Mortgage Bank, with an obligation to renovate the building and modernize the equipment. At the beginning things were slowly improving but in 1939 the building burnt to the ground.

The debts of all the creditors were covered by the insurance received, but the biggest losers were the Manaki brothers who had previously sold a good part of their inherited property to build the cinema.

Опожарено кино Манаки, 1939 г
Manaki Cinema after the fire, 1939

Today’s cinema “Manaki” is built on a location close to the former and is a new cultural facility in Bitola, which is expected to be operational soon.

  • How to get there

    The building is located on the busiest street in Bitola - Shirok Sokak, opposite Hotel Epinal.

  • Parking

    At 150 meters from the building - Goce Delchev Square

  • Wheelchair accessibility

    The building is accessible only from the outside