Jan Menno Rozendal
2018-09-25 17:15 — Bitola, Macedonia
It's been a week since I came to Bitola, and I’m surrounded by new languages. Macedonian, of course, but also some (remains of) Serbo-Croatian, Turkish, Greek and Albanian. Luckily André Looijenga, a participant of Other Words two years ago, came over a couple of days to show us around a bit. It was very interesting to hear him interact with the locals in their own language. I fear it is more than I will be able to do after two months here…
Meanwhile, the International Filmfestival Manaki Brothers in the National Theatre of Bitola has begun. After some bargaining we got our accreditation for the entire week, and immediately we were allowed to sit in on a press conference. Center of attention was the now 80 year old Claudia Cardinale, CC for friends and acquaintances. Surely everyone remembers the classic Once upon a time in the West? Or should I say C’era una volta il West?
Anyway, the press conference is both in Macedonian and Italian. Immediately a young woman from the organization is coming towards us: she will be the live translator for today, as the headsets aren’t working yet. She takes place in between us and without hesitation translates everything from the two spoken languages in perfect English. To show my gratitude, I start jotting down every little detail she mentions. From the corner of my eye I notice André is doing the same.
When CC is speaking, the word that is mentioned most is bellisima: whether she is talking about her latest movie, the film festival or Bitola. She repeats it all once more the next day, when she is visiting the press center for the last time. Later that morning I meet Dutch film director Alex de Ronde, who has made a documentary about his deaf son. We talk about the city, his work and my activities for Other Words… It turns out he is very interested in minority languages, and leaves me with an interesting thought: doesn’t sign language fit the definition as well?