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Two parts fiction, one part documentary, Macedonian helmer Milcho Manchevski’s lopsided triptych “Mothers” reps a stew of ideas, but unfortunately, none of them emerge fully cooked. Big themes such as the nature of the truth, corruption and the banality of evil are all apparent, yet not presented in a particularly compelling way, signaling fest play as the most likely means of offshore exposure.

First up is the shortest segment, unfolding in Skopje, centering on two 9-year-olds (Emilija Stojkovska, Milijana Bogdanoska) who report an exhibitionist near their school — even though they never saw him. Next part, set in the magnificent countryside of the Mariovo region, follows a crew of callow filmmakers (Ana Stojanovska, Vladimir Jacev, Dimitar Gjorgjievski) on the trail of traditional Macedonian life as they interview a village’s last remaining residents (Ratka Radmanovic, Salaetin Bilal, both outstanding). Overlong final section about Vlado Taneski, a factory worker/journalist who tortured, raped and murdered retired cleaning women in the town of Kicevo, would have been more interesting as a stand-alone docu. Craft credits are fine but don’t match Manchevski’s usual breathtaking standard; docu section would benefit from trims and tighter cutting.

Mothers

Macedonia-France-Bulgaria

  • Production: A Banana Film, Cine-Sud Promotion, Elements Film production with the participation of the Macedonian Film Fund, the Bulgarian National Film Center, Fonds Sud Cinema, Ministry of Culture -- CNC, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. (International sales: Rendez-vous Pictures, Paris.) Produced by Christina Kallas, Milcho Manchevski. Co-producers, Thierry Lenouvel, Methodius Petrikov. Directed, written by Milcho Manchevski.
  • Crew: Camera (color/B&W), Vladimir Samoilovski; editor, Zaklina Stojcevska; music, Igor Vasilev Novogradska; production designer, David Munns; costume designer, Elisabetta Montaldo. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Special Presentations), Sept. 11, 2010. Running time: 123 MIN.
  • With: With: Ana Stojanovska, Vladimir Jacev, Dimitar Gjorgjievski, Ratka Radmanovic, Salaetin Bilal, Emilija Stojkovska, Milijana Bogdanoska.
  • Music By: