Two nine-year-old girls report a flasher to the police even though they never saw him. Three filmmakers meet the only residents of a deserted village - an elderly brother and sister who ...
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Macedonia is a small country, in the heart of the Balkans, which for five centuries was under the yoke of the Ottoman Empire. The action of the film "To the Hilt" takes place in the years ... See full summary »
Two nine-year-old girls report a flasher to the police even though they never saw him. Three filmmakers meet the only residents of a deserted village - an elderly brother and sister who have not spoken to each other in 16 years. Retired cleaning women are found raped and strangled in a small town. The fiction slowly turns into a documentary.Written by
Three stories mixing documentary and fiction in contemporary Macedonia.
"The circle is not round," was a key line in Manchevski's Oscar nominated debut feature Before the Rain (1994) that presented three interwoven tales set in Macedonia (The former Yugoslav republic) after the Bosnian wars and before the Kosovo upheavals and battles. Manchevski is from Macedonia but he has built a career in the United States including making numerous short films, publishing books of fiction and photography, staged performance art, teaching fort the NYU Film School and directing for HBO's The Wire. Yet with the premiere of this his fourth feature film Mothers at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival, he has returned to his homeland to create a fully engaging three story and multi-layered film that once more suggests "the circle of life is still not round."
Part of the power of Before the Rain when it appeared was to pull audiences everywhere who had become burdened and even perhaps bored with TV CNN styled news coverage of the wars in the former Yugoslavia into the heart and soul and the beautiful landscape of Manchevski's homeland that he had not been back to for years. Through the Christian and Muslim characters presented in Before the Rain, Manchevski takes us beyond politics and religion into the center of dysfunctional families that are ready to kill each other.
As with Before the Rain, three narratives are presented with no direct link to each other beyond the point that Manchevski puts the viewer to work building his or her own links and bridges to this "circle" given that the title --Mothers --challenges us to see these narratives through this female-centered label. For we know well that Hollywood and most cinemas everywhere make "male-centered" films seldom with women at the center of their narratives. And part of what is so appealing in Manchevski's latest film is that he knows as we do too that "news" and wars are so much about what men are doing to men as well as to innocent women and children. Thus Mothers opens up lines between documentary and fiction at the same time that it also blurs them (what is truth and what is fiction as in the two girls "making up" the story of having seen the male flasher) as Manchevski shows us ways in which women as mothers, daughters, grandmothers, wives,relatives and neighbors find ways to survive in a contemporary post-war culture where dysfunctional families (as in the brother and sister not talking to each other for sixteen years) must survive in violent neighborhoods (the murder of the retired mothers).
Performances are excellent throughout the film beginning with the young girls, Emilija Stojkovska and Milijana Bogdanoska who are both playfully innocent and also devilishly cunning, and moving on the young filmmaking trio as Ana Stojanovska enjoys a lusty friendship with Kole (Vladimir Jacev) but is also attracted to the younger filmmaker, Simon (Dimitar Gjorjievski). Grandpa (Salaetin Bilal) and Grandma (Ratka Radmanovic) each give "old age" new visions including Grandma's comment on camera to the trio as they ask about pregnancies over the years, "There is no end of DICK!" and bursts into non-stop laughter. And then there are the real people of the town of Kicevo who are interviewed in the final murder sequence of the film.
One also has to salute Mothers for its multi-national production team of companies from France, Bulgaria, Macedonia headed up by a Greek producer, Christina Kallas, who has for years now as Director of the Balkan Script Fund and President of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe (FSE). In fact, Ms Kallas captures the overall quality of the film when she comments, "The film blurs the lines between fiction and documentary stylistically. Indeed watching the film you do not understand where fiction ends and documentary begins. But this, once again, has to do with our perception rather than with the director's intention to manipulate you. As a matter of fact, the film is completely devoid of such intentions"
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