"I Am from Titov Veles" ("Jas sum od Titov Veles")
"I Am From Titov Veles" is a story of three Balkan sisters who try to survive in a society in which they are not equipped to do so. The socialist revolution has failed and social welfare is forbidden by the imposed neo-liberal transition formulas. Now the nouveau riche can take their place in the society but with them come the profiteers aho are ruthless and hungry for both cash and recognition. For them everything can be obtained for a price and they have the money to get what they want. The complicated historical past of the Balkans affects the lives of our main characters adding another layer of complexity to their everyday life. Here watch a family of three sister decay. The new society is a rat race and there is no love nor compassion and the world is one of confusion and destruction. This is what the film looks at an d doles so through the eyes of Sapho, Slavica and Afrodita. Sapho is the youngest, she plays hand ball and goes out with men, many men, she has the disease of modern living, hopping from bed to bed hoping not to end up alone. Afrodita is her older sister and the two do not resemble each other except for feelings. At 35, Slavica is their older siste and she has been undergoing methadone therapy for nine years but its doing okay. They live in Titov Veles ( now just Veles) There is a lead factory Tito build during Communist rule and it is at the center of the town and is responsible for pollution of the area. Their community is dying and the three women are lost.
This is certainly not a happy film or a joyful look at the Balkans. It is truly bleak as we watch a society come apart. The three sisters were left in their poor town to take care of each other after their father died years ago. Each of them is looking for a future for herself but each does so differently. What they have in common besides blood is the desire to escape and have better lives. Another focus of the film is the patriarchal upbringing that characterizes their generation and how woman is made to be vulnerable. The film shows the struggle between attempts for normal life and idealism in today's transitional society in the Balkans. The story unfolds through the eyes of dreamy, disturbed Afrodita (producer Labina Mitevska, the helmer's sister), who lacks a firm grip on reality. It's unclear whether her condition is due to pollution from the local steel factory or some childhood trauma (she has refused to speak since she was 5 and is afraid of abandonment. Afrodita shares a ramshackle house with older siblings Slavica (Ana Kostovska) and Sapho (Nikolina Kujaca), where they all in the same sleep bed.
It's the legacy of the years under the Tito regime that weighs heavily on Titov Veles, a small Macedonian town which not only bears the name of the Yugoslavian Communist dictator, but is still dependent on and subject to the influence of the factory built there under the regime. This factory sends out toxic waste and the pollution is decimating the population. Director Teona Strugar Mitevska uses the imagery of the past to show its influence on the present and the future. "I Am from Titov Veles" is original in that it uses the viewpoint of the youngest of three sisters living in the small Macedonian town. Afrodita (Labina Mitevska) is a young 27 year old woman who has remained mute since the death of her father. She is also likely to dream and have reveries that help her to process the wretchedness of the world she lives in with her two other sisters. Afrodita's eldest sister Slavica (Ana Kostovska) works at the town's toxic factory, where she hopes to marry the wealthy owner, but she struggles with an addiction to methadone and relies on her sisters to set up the necessary arrangements, which calls for some painful sacrifices from both of them. Each of the women feel like they are living in exile at home, longing to return to an illusory homeland and willing to do whatever is necessary to escape from Titov Veles. In this case they are considering a Greek homeland from where their family was expelled during the Second World War. Slavica hopes to escape her misery through marriage, Sapho through procurement of a visa, and Afrodita through her own imagination. Showing this through the eyes of Afrodita however, the director's depiction of the grim reality of their lives and their surroundings takes on the lyrical quality of somewhat modern fallen angels who were expelled from paradise and became unable to bear the torment of their mortality. There are several strong scenes of misery, torment, horror, humiliation and degradation and they are relayed to us with natural light and very beautiful cinematography.