Set in the Republic of Macedonia in 2001, when long-standing hostilities between ethnic Macedonians and Macedonian Albanians threatened to erupt into civil war, Teona Strugar Mitevska's tense drama revolves around a brother and sister caught in the middle. After living in the United States for three years, 25-year-old Viola Trebjelski (Labina Mitevska) returns to her family's home in the Macedonian capital of Skopje. Her grandfather (Risto Stefanovski), a revolutionary legend, no longer recognizes her, and her older brother, Teo (Toni Mihajlovski), faces subtle harassment for working as a U.N. official's driver, because the U.N. represents foreign interests who are meddling in Macedonian affairs. Viola's parents are consumed with worry about her younger brother, Kokan (Milan Tocinovski-Sako), a frustrated young man dabbling equally in petty criminality and nationalist politics. Kokan, his girlfriend Italia (Lea Lipsa) and their friend Nadir (Dzefdet Jasari) throw stones at U.N. peacekeepers charged with containing ethnic clashes, and they recently killed a soldier. Kokan also runs errands for a local thug, who sends him on a bus trip into neighboring Albania. Kokan brings Viola along as a cover, and while waiting for his connection she reveals the real reason she's come home: Before leaving for America, she secretly had a baby daughter, Ivona, and left her in the care of a diplomat's family. Viola now hopes to recover the child. As they prepare for a trip home, the Albanian police arbitrarily order all the passengers off the bus; Kokan hastily switches bags with Viola and is humiliated by the police for carrying a woman's bag; they detain him so long that the bus leaves without him, and his walk home takes him through the mine-studded no man's land just over the border. Viola, meanwhile, finds herself holding a gym bag filled with illicit cash, harassed by a persistent creep and then forced to walk back to Skopje in the dark after the bus is commandeered by members of the National Liberation Army. Viola and Kokan's travails unfold against a backdrop of news reports involving the relics of 11th-century St. Kliment, whose mission to educate and minister to all Slavs provides a sadly ironic counterpoint to bitter present-day tensions. Mitevska telescopes centuries of conflict between nations into an intimate story of siblings whose hopes for the future are being slowly poisoned by the sins of the past.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: Set in the Republic of Macedonia in 2001, when long-standing hostilities between ethnic Macedonians and Macedonian Albanians threatened to erupt into civil war, Teona Strugar Mitevska's tense drama revolves around a brother and sister caught in the middle.… (more)