Anabela Angelovska on „Retreat“ / interview

What was your starting point for “Retreat”?

The starting point for my film „Retreat“ was my interest in new forms of labor migration occurring in North Macedonia in the past 20 years: thousands of young people left their country to earn money in war zones in the Middle East in order to afford their dream houses when they return home. I wondered whether these new forms of labor migration indicate a change in values. Equally, I wanted to find out to what extent the living and working conditions in a small country like North Macedonia can indicate new parameters of labor and work in a global way.

Beyond that, I wanted to figure out the complex relation between war, economy and architecture. And I’m very happy with the final cut of the film, which I did on my own, as I think that the film succeeded in giving the spectators an idea of this complexity. The most important idea during this final editing process was to bring the spectator to the point of asking him or herself to what extent our living conditions in the Global North have an effect on those forms of labor migration in the Europe’s southeastern periphery.

Do you have a favorite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

I have many favorite moments in the film, but mostly I like it that all of my protagonists don’t behave in a stereotypical way. All of them have different roles in life that are also reflected in the film. The grandmother »Baba Danica« whose children all left the country for a job in the Middle East, is living on a farm feeding the geese, the goats and the pigs, but she is also a baby sitter and a real-estate entrepreneur at the same time…

I like the scene with Minnie and Mickey Mouse, because the pictures tell us the whole dilemma migrant workers live in, of being trapped between the worlds in a very simple and direct way. When Minnie walks down the dusty street the feeling of strangeness of the migration workers back home becomes comprehensible.

What do you like about the short form?

Short film gives you the artistic freedom of the form and the story. This is why I adore the short form! As short films are mostly out of the economic circuit they don’t have to follow strict narrative structures or forms.  While economic pressures of feature films often lead production companies and television stations to believe that viewers “need to be taken by the hand” and force directors to tell stories according to this preset, short film authors may leave this idea behind and follow their own artistic practice. As an independent filmmaker you have the opportunity and the duty as well to reassure the viewers that they are capable of thinking on their own and of penetrating even complex contexts independently.

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