Timeline of events related to theatrical and film art in Bitola. The list of events is limited and concentrated on those related to the building of the Old Theater and cinemas in Bitola.
The brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière presented their invention cinematographer on December 28, 1895 in Paris, marking the beginning of a new art form – the film.
Abdul Kerim Pasha was one of the few high-ranking Ottoman officials who served in Bitola and left a lasting mark on the city. He was appointed as “vali” (governor) on April 20, 1895 and immediately embarked on reforms that gave Bitola a different - "modern" look. In his time, a large part of the Dragor riverbed was arranged, the city sewerage works began, cobblestones were laid on several streets, the swamp in front of the army barracks was dried up and the construction of the future City Park began. Several important public buildings were erected, such as: library, hospital for the poor, fish market, many shops along the Dragor River, etc.
In his time, a complex of buildings was erected in the city center, including the “Shark” Hotel (later Bosnia) and the theater building behind the Shark Hotel. But even though it was in the center of the city, there was already a Muslim cemetery on the site, which created resistance among the Muslim population. For the labor action that took place on an unknown date in 1897, prisoners were engaged who were ordered deep in the night to make the place “flat” until morning. The next day the foundations were laid with military music adorning the act. The Muslim population in the city boycotted the event.
The governor didn’t managed to see the theater completed, since under the pretext that he was in poor health, he retired from service in 1901 and left Bitola.
An unidentified couple from Italy was screening short French-made films in one of the Bitola hotels. The names of this traveling couple are not known and their stay in Bitola was short.
- Борис Ноневски „Филмското столетие во Македонија“, Кинопис 13 (7) с.3-32, 1995
After graduating from at the high school in Bitola, Janaki Manaki opened a photography studio in Ioannina. Later, his younger brother Milton joined him in the work.
The film "Massacres de Macédoine" in 1903 was shot in 1903 by the company "Pathé Frères" from France. The film was inspired by the Ilinden Uprising and is a kind of reconstruction of the reprisals against the civilian population by the Ottoman army and police. The film was directed by Lucien Nonguet. The filming took place at the Pate Brothers studio in Vincent, near Paris.
* КИНОПИС - Број 45/46(25), 2014 / ISSN 0353-510 Х
Janaki and Milton Manaki visit Bitola and buy a shop on Shirok Sokak street, which they adapted into a photography studio.
Janaki Manaki buys the BIOSKOPE 300 camera in London and returns to Bitola.
Soon after the first recordings were made in Avdela and Ber
* Павле Константинов „Браќа Манаки“ прилог кон нивниот живот и дело, Млад Борец Скопје, 1982 год
The Young Turk Revolution was a major social upheaval in the Ottoman Empire in 1908 against the absolutism of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. On July 22, 1908, The Young Turks enter Bitola. All political prisoners were released and large demonstrations were organized in the city.
Voydan Cernodrinski with his theater shows the plays "The family of the criminal" and "Macedonian Blood Wedding" in the hall of the Constitutional Club in Bitola
*Ристо Стефановски: „Од Хераклеа до народен театар во Битола“ Народен театар Битола 1994 г
The brothers Tashko and Kostantin Chomu rent the hall of the Bitola Theater and start projecting film screenings until the beginning of the military operations of the First World War in 1915.
The year 1911 is the most significant for the film opus of the Manaki brothers and is the peak of their filmmaking activity. The visit of Sultan Mehmed V Reshad, the visit of the Romanian delegation to Bitola, Gopesh and Resen, as well as the funeral of the Metropolitan of Grevena Emilianos were documented.
In 1912, during the Balkan Wars, the theater building burned down, with only the walls left standing.
* Димитар Христов – „Развиток на театарскиот живот во Битола од 1897-1964“ (20 години Народен театар Битола )
World War I lasted from July 28, 1914, to November 11, 1918. More than nine million soldiers and seven million civilians have been killed in the fighting. On November 18, 1916 the armies of the Entente entered Bitola, and the armies of the Central Powers retreated to the surrounding mountains. For a period of two years Bitola was on the actual front line and was bombed daily with various types of grenades. By the end of the war, about 70-80% of the city had been destroyed, with a huge number of civilian and military casualties.
On February 3, 1916. Janaki Manaki has been detained by Bulgarian authorities on charges of espionage and illegal possession of weapons. He was acquitted in August but was deported to Bulgaria shortly afterward.
*Павле Константинов „Браќа Манаки“ прилог кон нивниот живот и дело, Млад Борец Скопје, 1982 г
French, British and Serbian filmmakers and photographers are filming locations and military operations around Bitola. Opposite the front-line are cameramen from the Berlin-based Masters Film, German, Bulgarian and Austrian military cameramen.
The returnee from America, Temelko Trajkov from the village Capari opened a permanent cinema at his Grand America Hotel. Kosta and Dimitar Chomu opened the “Greater Serbia” cinema at the “Solun” Hotel that operated until 1921.
Lazar Sarchev opens a cinema in his bar located in the center of the city, and on April 20, the permanent cinema "Belgrade" was opened by Atanas Pema, which was located in the building of the old Serbian high school.
Janaki and Milton Manaki held their first film screening on August 26 in the summer garden of the Manaki Cinema, located in the courtyard of the demolished Royal Hotel. Two years later, the cinema was moved to a building specially built for that purpose.
On April 18, 1922, at 10 o'clock in the morning, on the third day of Easter, a strong explosion shook the people of Bitola and what followed was a direct threat to the city itself. A huge amount of ammunition, a remnant of the First World War, was stored in a open area near the train station, in front of the Red and White Barracks (now City Park). The ensuing explosions were even more frightening and forced the population to flee to the villages north of the city. During the day, the wind started to blow, which helped to spread the fire that lasted for almost a week, and the real danger were the large-caliber grenades and those with suffocating gases, which, fortunately, were not initially affected by the explosion. Later, thanks to the sacrifice and ingenuity of individuals, the fire was extinguished and the city and its inhabitants were rescued. (www.bitola.info)
In December 1923 The Manaki brothers' Manaki cinema began operating in a specially constructed building for that purpose.
At the initiative of Simeon Bundalevski, who, after the end of the First World War, returned from Kiev where he studied at the Polytechnic Faculty, and with the help of Mihailo Rakidziev, a prominent figure from the Ilinden Revolution, in 1923 began activities to build the first thermal power plant in Bitola.
The equipment was installed, but at the beginning, the electrification of the city did not go as expected. It was not until the second year that mass acceptance of electric lighting began.
* Кирил Добрушевски „Првата термоелектроцентрала во Битола“
* Дамјан Бужаровски „Семејството Бундалевци„ Скопје, 2020 година, ISBN 978-608-245-614-0
On April 23, 1926, with the adaptation of the play "Death of Urosh V" by Stefan Stefanovic,, adapted by Risto Odavic and directed by Aleksandar Verecanagin the new theater building was inaugurated. The theater received as a present an asbestos curtain on which Milos Vasic painted an open scene with "faces in colorful folk costumes and decorative ornaments".
* Ристо Стефановски: „Од Хераклеа до народен театар во Битола“ Народен театар Битола 1994 г
Nikifor Jeftic opened a sound cinema in his Grand Hotel. In this cinema, named "Palace", the first sound film shown was “Fra Diavolo” (The Devil's Brother or Bogus Bandits).
Bitola’s hotelier Nikifor Jeftic built a special cinema hall as an extension of his hotel "Grand" which operated as a permanent cinema until the end of the nineties.
Due to the irregular payment of annuities to the Mortgage Bank, the financial problems of the Manaki Brothers became greater and in 1933 a bankruptcy of the cinema was announced. In 1937, the Mortgage Bank rented the cinema to Risto Zerde, who signed a 10-year contract with the obligation to renovate the building and modernize the equipment. At first things were slowly improving, but in 1939 the building was engulfed in fire and burned 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.
World War II was a global armed conflict that began on July 7, 1937 in Asia and on September 1, 1939 in Europe and lasted until May 8, 1945 in Europe with the capitulation of Germany and until September 2, 1945 in Asia with the capitulation of Japan.
The April Offensive, which began on April 6, 1941, marked the beginning of World War II in Yugoslavia. The attack was carried out by land, from several directions. German, Italian and Hungarian troops entered Yugoslavia from Italy, Austria (then part of the Third Reich), Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. Belgrade was heavily bombed. At the same time, the German invasion of Greece, codenamed “Operation Marita”, began.
The hotel "Bosnia" and the Girls' High School burned to the ground. The fire started on the roof of the building which was located in the central part of Bitola, in front of the theater.
*(Excerpt from the newspaper "Pravda" September 11, 1939)
Although the Kingdom of Yugoslavia declared neutrality at the beginning of the World War II, on November 5, 1940, Bitola was suddenly bombed three times. It is presumed that the bombing was mistakenly carried out by the Italian air force, whose country had started a war with Greece a few days before.
During the fascist occupation, the hotelier Nikifor Jeftic left Bitola, so his cinema and hotel were declared abandoned by the Bulgarian authorities and leased to Risto Zerde, whose cinema "Korzo" (formerly "Cinema Manaki") burned down in 1939. The new tenant changed the name of the cinema from "Grand" to "Bulgaria". Under this name the cinema operated until the liberation of Bitola on November 4, 1944 when the owner gave it a new name "Macedonia".
*А. Крстевски, Киноприкажувачката дејност во Битола, Кинопис 8 (5), с7-32, 1993
During the Bulgarian occupation, the cinema "Balkan" operated in the hall of the city theater in Bitola, which was owned by the Bitola municipality and with which the owner Mihajlo Pema had concluded a lease agreement. The theater hall was used simultaneously for theater and cinema performances until 1945 when it was decided to use the hall only for theatrical performances.
* А. Крстевски, Киноприкажувачката дејност во Битола, Кинопис 8 (5), с7-32, 1993
On the morning of November 4, 1944, fighters from the 49th Division of the National Liberation Army and the Armed Forces marched victoriously through Bitola after liberating the city from the remaining German army.
On November 14, 1944 in Bitola was shown the first theater play in Macedonian language. The one-act play "Pettoimeniot Gjore" by Vlado Maleski which marked the birth of the National Theater in Bitola. The main role was entrusted to the famous artist Dimce Stefanovski, and this first ensemble - theater group, besides Stefanovski, consisted of: Jorgo Caca (group leader), Vera Vuckova, Meri Boskova, Aco Stefanovski, Simo Georgievski, Slavce Matevski, Georgi Karev, Jovan Bejko, Dr. Jovan Kala Avtovski, Mitko Enchev, Peca Dimoski, Ljuba Dzima, Mende Lazarevski, Mara Anevska, Mara Savevska, Petar Veljanovski and Radovan Pein.
*Владимир Додовски - Театарски времеплов - Хроника и критички осврти за дејноста на Народниот театар од Битола - 1994 год
The former cinema "Grand", later "Bulgaria", and from November 4, 1944 the cinema "Macedonia" was nationalized on July 1, 1945 and was placed under the management of the State Film Company Skopje. Aki Pavlovski, a participant in the National Liberation War, was appointed director of the cinema.
*А. Крстевски, Киноприкажувачката дејност во Битола, Кинопис 8 (5), с7-32, 1993
According to the article published in the newspaper "Bratstvo" from October 18, 1946, the renovation of the building of the National Theater started on March 1, 1946 and was supposed to end on November 15. It was done so that an additional part was built in front of the building in which the administrative premises and the cash register were located. The stage was also expanded as much as possible to create more or less suitable spatial working conditions.
Thus, the National Theater enters the new theater season 1947/48 more prepared. In September 1947, the duty of director was entrusted to Aleksandar Tasevski, who remained until September 1951.
*Димитар Христов „20 години народен театар Битола 1944-1964“, издавач: Народен театар Битола, 1964 г
On February 28, 1953, the Bitola National Theater celebrates its thousandth play „Без третиот“ ("Without the Third") by Molan Begovic, directed by Dimitrie Osmanli.
*Димитар Христов „20 години народен театар Битола 1944-1964“, издавач: Народен театар Битола, 1964 г
In 1958, the ensemble of the National Theater Bitola entered with problems that could not be overcomed easily. The new manager, artist and director Dusko Naumovski, who took office on January 1, 1958 and performed it very successfully until his tragic death on December 10, 1961.
One of the many reasons for the decline and stagnation was the departure of several famous artists who, due to insufficient material and financial conditions in the Theater, unresolved personal issues and desire for affirmation, left Bitola and sought their artistic and material existence in Skopje. The hitherto very strong artistic core has disintegrated. The ensemble was left without the potential to engage in more complex stage projects. In such a situation, the responsible people of the Theater and the Art Council repertoire decided mainly on the domestic drama which they considered to be closer. Thus, in the season 1958/59 as many as seven texts by domestic authors have been performed on the Bitola stage.
- Димитар Христов „20 години народен театар Битола 1944-1964“, издавач: Народен театар Битола, 1964 г
The project for reconstruction and significant expansion of the National Theater in Bitola, made by the design bureau "New Construction Bitola", designed by T. Spasenovski, dated 20.11.1955. Within this project, in the first phase, construction of an annex on the right side of the existing hall and a new stage was envisaged, which in the second phase should enable demolition of the existing hall and construction of a new one with another annex with entrances and lobby for the audience. In this way, with gradual construction, a new theater building would be obtained, as a replacement for the old one. Rotation was also provided on the extended stage. The project was not approved and at the end of the year a construction permit was obtained for a smaller project.
Construction of a rehearsal hall and expansion of the stage by adding 2 auxiliary rooms (props and technical room).
Decision for construction of cultural memorials in 25 cities in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, as a lasting memory of the First Session of ASNOM. (Службен весник)
From March 1, 1975. until March 31, 1978. 1% of the personal income of all employees in Bitola was allocated, which resulted in a total of 228,176,965 dinars for the following facilities: Memorial House of Culture 35%, University Sports Hall 35% and Canal drainage 30%.
From July 1977 to June 30, 1982, 2% of net personal income and pensions of Bitola citizens were allocated for the improvement of infrastructural projects. The referendum was held on June 26, 1977. Out of the planned 138,520,000 dinars, 177,000,000 were realized for the construction of the following facilities:
1. Memorial House of Culture;
2. Universal sports hall;
3. Water supply of Bitola;
4. Utility facilities and installations;
5. One primary school;
6. Center for targeted education "Gjorgji Naumov";
7. Monument of the Revolution
8. Premises for the activity of the Ministry of Health.
On October 3, 1979 a decision was made to take urgent measures to establish technical documentation for the existing building of the Theater, for which a decision was made to demolish it. This news resonated negatively with many citizens of Bitola and some of them openly rebelled against the decision.
* Димитар Димитровски „Придонесот на дипл.инж. арх. Љубиша Новаковиќ за зачувување на некои објекти од 19 ек во Битола“ - Битола низ вековите“ XI и XII, Битола 2009
At the session of the expert collegium held on 04.10.1979, it was determined that the building of the National Theater in Bitola has the status of a cultural monument where the interior of the building is placed under a special protection regime, while exterior interventions are allowed with prior consent and approval by the National Institution Institute and Museum Bitola.
NI Institute and Museum Bitola with Decision No. 10/31 from 08.10.1979 found that the building of the National Theater in Bitola on Marshal Tito street no. 60, has the property of a cultural monument. Based on Judgment No. 135/80 from 03.07.1980. at the Supreme Court of Macedonia, this decision was returned for reconsideration, after which the procedure for protection of the building of the National Theater - Bitola was stopped and conditions for its demolition were provided.
The building of the National Theater Bitola is demolished
As part of the solemn celebration of the Day of the Uprising, on October 11, 1980, the House of Culture in Bitola was solemnly opened for use.
Authors of the project: Marko Music, B.Sc. eng. arch .; Aleksandar Smilevski B.Sc. eng. arch .; Interior: Ljubica Nikoljska B.Sc. eng. arch .; Year of construction: 1976-1980, RGO "Beton" OOZT ISP "Beton" - Skopje