This year we have a rare possibility to celebrate a rare jubilee of the appearance of Manaki’s name in the field of culture i.e. to celebrate 120 years since the Manakis first started their photo-graphic activity, namely when Janaki opened his photo studio in the distant 1898 in the Epirus Centre of Greece, in the city of Ioannina. There, as an experienced artist – drawing teacher, together with his brother who helped him with the work – they took pictures of the citizens of Ioannina and the surrounding places and as visitors mostly of the native Vlachs.
Besides this jubilee, we should also annonnnce that we are celebrating the anniversary i.e. 150 years since the birth of Janaki Manaki, one of the ideological creators of Balkan cinema culture througn the legendary Bioskop 300 (known as Camera 300) in whose honour we organize the only special-ized festival dedicated to their work (MANAKIEVO) at which we value the importance of the DOCU-MENTARY genre and especially the importance of the camera as the main factor in the creation of a film.
Manaki’s work is great as well as the wealthy heritage they have left us from the three periods of their creative work. The first so called the Ioanninian period is their beginning in which numerous historical figures from the entire Epirus region of Greece and wider are presented. As the second important period in their work is considered the Plovdiv period, i.e. the period when Janaki was interned in Plovdiv, Bulgaria ( 1916) where numerous Vlachs from Bitola area were also interned by the Bulgarian authorities. There, in the Plovdiv region they took photos of the Vlachs in their “new” residential places. The most numerous wealth of photographic material certainly belongs to the Bitla period during which the greatest number of photographs were taken of various events organized in the region, photographs of armies, customs, dignitaries, weddings, religions events, etc. and as the holder of the activities was Janaki as a professor in the Walkachian ( Romani-an) lycee of drawing and penmanship. Milton, his brother, helped him with the work in the photo-graphic shop following him everywhere and in all places in the vicinity of Bitola Vilayet recording the numerous events from the historical past of the places of which they were witnesses.
In their vast photograpgic heritage which is preserved nowadays as a national treasure in the Bitola Historical Archive, we can recognize many historical figures as well as events that were happening, wars waged on these areas, etc. Most of the events that Manaki brothers are attributed to Milton because Janaki travelled frequently and was appointed a professor in Thessaloniki for some time.
For the culture of the Balkan, Manakis are also known for their legendary CAMERA 300 in honour of which is this festival. Namely, with that camera brought in 1905, they made the first film records in the history of the film art in the Balkans. The entire film heritage of the Manakis today is preserved and restored, and it is deposited in the Cinematheque of Macedonia which institution presents their entire work around the world. Milton’s merit is even greater because he managed to preserve their entire photo and film fund until his death in 1964..