"I am from Titov Veles": Social Repression in Macedonia By Kerem Akca
in 12nd Sofia International Film Festival
by Kerem Akca
In I am from Titov Veles (Jas sum od Titov Veles), the second film by Teona Strugar Mitevska, the Macedonian director, is showing signs of a sometimes stylistic, sometimes minimalist artist throughout its duration, but the main idea is that she has a story and she doesn’t try to follow that. She has a directing style which is breaking the story and conveying its meaning in terms of an abstract cinema approach. Therefore, the ordinary audience who likes to have catharsis with main characters could not be drawn into it so much because the movie is about alienation in a country stuck between communism and half-capitalism. Maybe Mitevska’s is more like a Robert Bresson or Andrei Tarkovsky movie, or like any other directors who are breaking the storyline to put themselves in front of everything; the actors, the impression of the plot and so on.
The film starts with the inner voice of the main character, called Afrodita. She is mute; firstly because she is locked in this repressed society, secondly her mother has died and her father left home when she was just a child. She is 27-years-old now and a virgin. She has two sisters; the oldest one is married, the other one spends her time having sex with different guys. But the problem for them is that they want to escape from this systematic village because we see time after time that lonely girls have only one fate in this town. They have sex, they marry, they are disturbed by their husband and they stay locked in the society. That is the sociological life cycle in this village.
Though the main character is trying to escape, first she has to have sex to sum her identity problem. But in the cycle, she is having sex with one of the boyfriends of her sister. So that little detail shows the life in this society. We see from the first scene that there is a factory which symbolizes the capitalism and these girls are the main portraits of the system with this factory. The director sets a wide angle shot concerning the factory in the right and the girls at the left. This is the introduction sequence of the film. That truly sums up the so-called life, coming from a destined cycle. Every girl in this country has to stick to the conditions to stay alive!
This theme is told via a dominating directing style. Firstly, we see the repression by the metaphor of muteness. Then we see the sexual awakening. And after that first experience (or condition) with the details of the character, she is putting us in a subjective world. The girl is starting to get along with a regulation. For example, she wasn’t tying her shoes first, then she starts to tie; she was looking at the village from up in morning with her pure humanity, then she starts to look in the night with the ‘nihilistic view’ etc. These details are shown by a very intelligent ‘director’ approach. The directing is set by wide angle, wide lenses, sometimes high angles, different focus usages, no music and so on. The tone of the film is set very well with a distant directing point of view. The characters’ alienation in town, from the life and from the guys is done by a knowledgeable directing style with conscious angles. The main objective of the film is to create an abstract atmosphere around three girls who are passing the same way through life and are destined to repression. At the end it’s coming to a solution that they are stuck in this Macedonian village and to escape they have to use abstract and metaphoric motives or objects! So the director gives things to them from her intellectual and personal visual world!