Beauty of nature of Balkan Mountains makes it a true jewel of Balkans, says Vladimir Manić (59), a teacher from Niš who's been capturing life in the mountains for almost 30 years, using his camera lens.
Vladimir has discovered to public some of the greatest waterfalls in Serbia, that are in canyons in Balkan Mountains. Until now he made around 30 feature and short movies, from which some of them are awarded in international festivals, while his movie “Visok”, about the region with a same name in Balkan Mountains, got approval from Ministry of Education that it can be used as a schooling material. His archive of Balkan Mountains contains over 1.000 hours of video-materials and 20.000 photographs, which makes it the biggest archive of any mountain in Serbia.
I was born in Balkan Mountains in village named Izatovci, in Dimitrovgrad county. When I was 15 I moved to Aleksinac with my parents, where I graduated in Pedagogical academy, but I was feeling homesick. So I first started with “Smena 8” camera, and then with a video camera too, to capture beauty of Balkan Mountains. I was filming everything that was involving flora and fauna, natural phenomena, seasons, life of people… In this mountain you can find over 1.300 members of plant kingdom, which makes is the richest area of plant species and the richest area with endemic species in Serbia. This mountain has also the richest ornithological area because of the large number of bird species, and also among them the ones who are protected. I am mostly fascinated with water of Balkan Mountains, in which you can find one third of all waterfalls in Serbia. Until now I made around ten feature and around 20 short movies with ecological and ethnological subjects – says Manić, who is working as a teacher in Niš.
His first movie “Seasons of Visoko” attracted a lot of attention, and later works brought him great recognition. Persistent cruising through Balkan Mountains from Knjaževac to Dimitrovgrad and recording natural beauties of this landscape, made movie “Visok” one of the most serious movie realization about Balkan Mountains until now. In a movie a lot of eminent scientists are interviewed, and that realization was awarded in 2001. in International Festival of Ethnological Film in Belgrade.
Second documentary “Kliktaj divljine” (“Call of the wild”) reveals a story of long-legged buzzard, one of the rarest and most beautiful birds of Europe of hawk family. With movie “Kad zvona utihnu” (“Silence of the bells”) he perpetuated life of a shepherd from Balkan Mountains. In a movie “Još samo tren” (“Just one more moment”) about ninety years old man Nacko Nikolov, who is one of the residents of villages in Balkan Mountains, he got a special award in International Festival of Ethnological Film in Belgrade in 2009, when Manić went a step further and with musicians made a special soundtrack.
All the beauty of rivers and waterfalls are captured in a movie “Biseri Stare Planine” (“Pearls of Balkan Mountains”).
I’ve started exploring waterfalls in nineties. Almost all of the waterfalls in Balkan Mountains I’ve captured for the first time with my camera and discovered them to public, because only ones who knew about them were residents. First in 1995. I’ve captured Kurtulski waterfall which is 27 meters high, then Čunguljski waterfall which is 45 meters high. Piljski waterfall which is 65 meters high I’ve discovered in 2002. and by my opinion it is the highest one in Serbia because it has no cascades. Later with my associates I’ve discovered Koprenski waterfall, which is more 100 meters high, but it has cascades, same as Kaluđerski, which is more than 200 meters high, and also has cascades. Highest and biggest waterfalls are in Balkan Mountains, says Manić, and at the same time he is noting that he is a against bulidng small hydro power-plants in Balkan Mountains.
One man couldn’t finish filming of Balkan Mountains in a life time, because Balkan Mountains are treasury of all kinds of secrets and unlimited source of richness for scientific research, and for filming scientific documentaries. I’m currently working on a movie called “Iza čarobnog vela Stare planine” (“Behind the magical veil of Balkan Mountains”), which focuses on richness of flora and fauna, and everything that is unique in this area. Part of material I’m recording with hidden camera, so you need to wait for hours or days to make some scenes of animals or birds – explains Manić.