Winter, Leave


“By breathing this air, we are slowly dying.”

Every winter, North Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, becomes enveloped in a smog of pollution, as the concentration of poisonous particles in the air spikes to record heights. The immersive film, Winter, Leave, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity,  takes the viewer to the center of the Balkan Peninsula. We explore what makes Skopje one of the most polluted cities in Europe.

Non-eco friendly residential heating - like burning wood or even plastic - is considered one of the chief contributors to the pollution during the cold winters. Residents struggle to stay warm with high energy costs and poor insulation of the pre-1990s Yugoslav-era buildings. In tandem two parallel worlds unfurl, as we learn how the problems inside the homes correspond to the unfolding crisis outside. Many residents are increasingly frustrated with the pollution. They demand action and answers to why the air is so toxic during Skopje’s winter.