Q&A With NYFA Alum Marija Apcevska on Her Selection at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival

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Film and Media Production alum, Marija Apcevska caught up with NYFA to share some exciting news. Her latest work, Severen Pol (North Pole) was selected in this year’s 2021 Cannes Film Festival. Apcevska is a graduate of the Film and Media Production MA program at the Los Angeles campus and represents North Macedonia (her home country) in this year’s festival. Severen Pol (North Pole) competes with nine other films across Iran, Denmark, France, Brazil, and others. 

New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you provide a synopsis of Severen Pol?

Marija Apcevsk (MA): The film takes place in a misty field and crowded locker room. Margo belongs to neither. Maybe if she loses her virginity, she will finally find her place.

North Pole film poster

Severen Pol (North Pole) was selected at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival

NYFA: What was your reaction when your film was selected for the Cannes Film Festival 2021? How did you find out?

MA: I received a phone call from them and it was such a surreal experience and feeling. At first, I couldn’t believe it and then it quickly transformed into a total mix of emotions. Obviously, publishing the information was not allowed until the official release of the selection, so it was difficult for both me and the producer, Robert Naskov, not to share the joy immediately. Being selected at Cannes is a tremendous honor for everyone but for us, this was even bigger as North Pole is the first film ever from our country to be selected at Cannes Film Festival. We have never had a film before, in any section. 

Marija Apcevska headshot

Director and Filmmaker, Marija Apcevska

NYFA: What other projects have you worked on during these past few years? Have they won any additional awards or showcased in any festivals or competitions?

MA: I previously shot another short film, Ambi, which also had a festival run. It was actually screened in LA as well, at Hollyshorts 2017. Apart from that, I have directed and worked as a second unit director on TV series in North Macedonia, I have been directing ads and I also worked as a teaching assistant at a directing department for two years.

NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved.

MA: North Pole is an intimate story about acceptance and belonging, told from the perspective of the teenage girl, played by an amazing young actress, Antonija Belazelkoska. I had an idea about it for quite a while and I wrote the script in 2018. We then applied to the European Short Pitch, a development platform, where they select only 16 scripts. We won one of the awards at the pitching session there and we also met our co-producer from Serbia during this time. The film was scheduled for shooting in the winter of 2019/2020, but due to weather conditions and then Covid 19, it got pushed to 2020/2021. We shot it in January 2021, on 16mm film, on locations in North Macedonia, and then immediately started with post-production. It was a challenging shoot from many aspects, including working with strict Covid protocols.

Set photo from North Pole featuring Director, Marija Apcevska

Set photo from North Pole featuring Director, Marija Apcevska (middle)

NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?

MA: I love the time I spent at NYFA and always look back at it with nostalgia. One of the main things I carry with me from NYFA is respect and togetherness with the crew. It takes a lot of effort to make films and that is only possible when there is mutual understanding and support. I already had a BA in directing when I enrolled at NYFA for my masters, but nevertheless, the way the studies are organized, I got to work on different student projects as grip, boom operator, AD, etc. I think this practical approach toward film education is very important because even if you know that, it reminds you how crucial each role is and how important teamwork is. It basically reminds you to stay humble. And being humble and grateful is very important to me, in filmmaking, and in life in general. 

Severen Pol (North Pole) production still

Severen Pol (North Pole) production still

NYFA: Are there any other upcoming projects we should know about?

MA: North Pole is now traveling to festivals and I am currently developing the script for my first feature film, Spring Cleaning. Spring Cleaning was selected for development at LIM Less is More 2021, a program led by Le Groupe Ouest (France), and also selected at Cannes Focus COPRO 2021. The film touches on themes of life after death, following the story of a young woman who faces a difficult relationship with her home country once she returns home after her mother’s suicide.

You can keep up-to-date with Marija, her latest work, and existing news on her Instagram (@mapcevska). New York Film Academy congratulates Marija on this well-deserved selection and wishes her much success in the future. 

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