The Manaki Brothers (2)

“Only ten years after the birth of the film in world cultural centers, the brothers Janaki and Milton Manaki bought the Bioscope 300 film camera and shot the first film shots in the Balkans. Their appearance in Bitola was not accidental and their marks right here were more mission and chronology of a more significant and comprehensive move of history. They were not just cinematographers, photographers, filmmakers, they were a kind of historical archivists, collectors of all the endless manifestations of life. Their fate, predetermined and set by the overall genesis of this city was in fact the fate of two dreamers who preserved the total immortality of humanity seen through all their photographic and film paintings with light. (…) Between 1898 and 1905, the Manaki brothers frequently traveled and photographed more than 40 settlements. In Bitola, which at that time was an important socio-political, trade and cultural center, Janaki had a wide circle of friends from the time of his schooling. In 1904, the Manaki brothers bought a shop on the main street ‘Shirok Sokak’ and hired builders to adapt it to a photo studio, which they opened in December 1905.”

“In 1904 both brothers started to work on the construction of their independent workshop, which they named Atelier for Photographic Art. Janaki permanently moved to Manastir (= Bitola) in 1905. Milton initially worked as a cleaner in the studio, maintaining the equipment, but later he studied photography and quickly showed expertise. It is assumed that Milton began to participate in the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization during this time. Milton took approximately fifty photographs of Aromanian revolutionaries in the organization. It is also believed that Milton helped transport arms from Albania to Macedonia for the 2nd Revolutionary Committee of Bitola.”

“The ‘Ilinden–Preobrazhenie Uprising’, or simply the Ilinden Uprising of August–October 1903 (…) was organized revolt against the Ottoman Empire, which was prepared and carried out by the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization,with the support of the Supreme Macedonian-Adrianople Committee, which included mostly Bulgarian military personnel. (…)  The revolt lasted from the beginning of August to the end of October and covered a vast territory from the western Black Sea coast in the east to the shores of Lake Ohrid in the west. (…) The reaction of the Ottoman Turks to the uprisings was one of overwhelming force. The only hope for the insurgents was outside intervention, and that was never politically feasible. (…) The waning Ottoman Empire dealt with the instability by taking vengeance on local populations that had supported the rebels. Casualties during the military campaigns themselves were comparatively small, but afterward, thousands were killed, executed or made homeless. Historian Barbara Jelavich estimates that about nine thousand homes were destroyed, and thousands of refugees were produced. According to Georgi Khadziev, 201 villages and 12,400 houses were burned, 4,694 people killed, with some 30,000 refugees fleeing to Bulgaria.”

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