“Mothers” by Milcho Manchevski
On Tuesday, April 14, after the opening of the new Center for Visual and Performing Arts, the fiction movie with documentary elements “Mothers” was screened as part of the program. The movie is a production of a New York-based Macedonian-born film director, writer, photographer and artist, Milcho Manchevski.
“Mothers” is the fourth feature movie that Manchevski has directed, but is his first fiction movie with documentary elements project. The movie is divided in three parts all shot in “three different villages of different stage of an abandonment,” the director explained. Although they are not related to each other (except for a brief encounter of the first and second part, and a photo used in both the second and the third part), their common denominator is the mother.
Yuliya Shumkova, a seond-year student said that what appealed to her the most, “aside from great editing,” is the way the three stories work together, “creating emotional parallels that allow the viewers to make connections themselves.”
The action in the first and the shortest part revolves around a group of two little girls who see a flasher behind the bushes. All of the girls are scared to tell anyone about it, except for two of them who did not even see him. They decide to go to the police station and report the flasher, although they might be convicted of lying. After giving the “truth” in a credible manner, they manage to convince the policemen in their story. In no time the officers bring a guy in the station to check if he is the criminal. Without any hesitation, one of the girls confirms that he is the flasher. The mother of the last girl accidentally walks by the police station and sees her daughter there. The story ends with a parent-child dispute about the incident.
“It really moved me, and not only because I am a feminist, but mainly because it presented the simple reality in so many ways whose existence we still refuse to accept,” second-year student, Lea Fanko, said.
The second story tells about the journey of two boys and one girl, all filmmakers. They drive around deserted Macedonian villages to make a documentary movie about the culture. During their journey, they meet elderly brother and sister who have not spoken to each other for 16 years. While staying in the grandmother’s place, the trio gets more and more attached to the old people. Although they leave after shooting there for a couple of days, the young girl keeps visiting the elderly lady bringing her and her brother groceries.
”The Film is great for archetypes. The granny’s archetype is the woman cowboy,” Manchevski said. The last two visits are sorrowful. During the first of them, the young filmmaker has to help the grandmother bury her brother, and on the next visit the girl is begged by “her granny” to help her die.
“I particularly liked the second story; it was very emotional and managed to show the subjectivity of the documentary by the making of documentary within a fiction piece and by showing the public that documentaries show only one part of the story, leaving a lot of elements out of the scene,” Hristina Mihaylova, a second-year student, commented.
With the last part, the movie moves from fiction to documentary. Retired cleaning women are found buried after being kidnapped and raped in Kichevo village. The police talks to every single person in the region. By the conversations presented, the viewer can understand what the connection between the women and the speakers is (daughter, granddaughter, son-in-law, and etc.). The investigation takes a turn when the police decides to take sample from all the men in the village. The outcome shows that the matching results belongs to no other, but the respectful reporter who wrote articles for all the victims. Although he is put in jail for the three murderers, the story is not clear whether he really is the perpetrator. On the very first night of his stay in jail, the reporter ends his life, drowning himself in a bucket of water. As the charge, the suicide as well is not completely certain.
Fourth-year student Max Shpirka, also expressed his impressions, “The cinematography was great. I liked the transition between stories (fiction to documentary within fiction to documentary). I did not enjoy emotional appeal over intellectual as much, but the topic of truth and lies was thought provoking.“
After the end of the screening Manchevski stayed to answer questions from the audience.