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The Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF) has quickly become the international film community’s newest “must-attend” summer event. The festival offers a pleasurable and inviting atmosphere for filmmakers, press and film lovers. It serves to not only develop an understanding and appreciation of the art of cinema and filmmaking, but also to inspire, educate and promote emerging local and regional filmmaking talent. This in turn has helped position Aruba as a center of art, culture and creativity, and as a viable destination for international film and commercial productions.
The AIFF was founded in 2010 by film producers Jonathan Vieira and Giuseppe Cioccarelli, with artistic direction by 30-year industry veteran Claudio Masenza. Previous editions of the festival have showcased a diverse array of critically acclaimed fiction films and documentaries from every corner of the globe, and have attracted such notable industry names as:
Hollywood leading man Richard Gere (Pretty Woman, An Officer and a Gentleman)
MOTHERS, Aruba review!
MOTHERS (2010) by director Milcho Manchevski screened at the 2nd annual Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF) 2011. Here find a review of the award-winning film that saw its opening in Toronto at TIFF 2010 and continues to travel to festivals around the globe.
MOTHERS, a rave review!
Fiction, nonfiction, and everything else in between and without- this is the dizzying dialectic of Milcho Manchevski’s latest film MOTHERS (2010). MOTHERS is a feature film structured as a triptych of three parts, of ‘mothers’ in modern-day Macedonia where each story is seemingly unrelated to the other, autonomous to itself, and yet linked in an abstract way.
The film begins with a fictional thesis- a story about two young girls upsetting their mother when they make up a story of a lewd man who has been allegedly flashing them. The girls make their complaint to the police about this supposed stalker. But are the girls sure of their facts? After all, they are playing witness to something they never actually saw themselves, only what their friends say they saw. But the girls believe this make-believe fantasy so much that it becomes reality for them.
The second film acts as another kind of fiction but with an element of nonfiction within it where three young twenty-something documentary filmmakers travel to the countryside of Macedonia. This is where steep tradition and age-old village life are visibly going extinct while technology and homogenous Westernization continue to lay siege in all corners of the world. These documentarians attempt to record what little remains of their rapidly fading culture while at the same time they get entangled in a fiery love triangle.
The third and final section proves an antithesis to both previous narrative fiction sections in its hard documentary style- gloomy lighting, gray colors, depressing subjects, too long and too real, forcing the viewer to question the link between the two previous films and this one. It is a documentary about the mysterious case of a serial rapist and killer in Macedonia who went for many years without being caught. When the alleged killer’s identity is revealed all are shocked to learn that he was a crime reporter who wrote about the murders themselves and lived next door to all the victims. He eventually died in a bucket of water in prison after he was caught, making the subject of this all too real documentary better than fiction in its outrageous irony.
With all these mixed genres and seemingly very separate stories, what does it all mean? The first film is short and riveting and leaves one in awe over the inventive imagination of a child and the consequences of it, and calls to question what we consider truth. And then we move on to the next story, which is told in a beautiful lyrical way, shaped like traditional narrative storytelling with actors, conflict and an arc. This is BEFORE THE RAIN (1994) stuff here and Milcho demonstrates his enduring ability to make a poignant, moving narrative film. With this stunning middle tale he draws the viewer in only to slap us in the face with his very jarring final film- the unattractive, and meticulously constructed factual documentary.
When asked about his strange transition from a harmonious and moving narrative film to a completely unrelated documentary he replied, ‘fiction is all nice and pretty but what are we going to do with the ugly reality?’ So, what does that say? It was loud and clear what his message was. Milcho wants us to think. Isn’t that what great art should do? Disturb us and make us feel something in order to care or be changed by it somehow?
Is the invented story of the two girls in the first film really fiction or does it remind us how real the imagination is and how something dreamed up can become truth if one believes it is? Is the third film, the documentary, trustworthy or could it be a biased point of view steeped with only half-truths? Who says something is ‘nonfiction’ and why should we believe it is so, just because someone tells us to? Or is the middle narrative film which strives to tell a story with as much verisimilitude as possible and in its poetry somehow hits on a truth that lies somewhere in between fiction and nonfiction? Therein is the eternal dialectic of what are reality and fantasy and our folly in sticking to one side over the other. MOTHERS forces us to question these blurred states of being (and non-being if you will) showing us once again as he did so expertly in BEFORE THE RAIN that the ‘circle is not round’.
Review written by Vanessa McMahon June 15, 2011
photos by Vanessa McMahon
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