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Retreat

Migrant labour is a major social theme in most Eastern European countries, as a large number of citizens work abroad. While many of these people travel as workforce within the EU, Macedonians have taken jobs in US military bases in war zones in the Middle East. The film discusses through storytelling the complicated ratio between the economic benefits and the trauma of war that these people bring back home.

Germany, North Macedonia | 2022 | 30 min

PRODUCTION: Anabela Angelovska

CAST: Danica Stanojkovska, Djordje Stanojkovski, Daniel Cvetkovski, Darko Panevski

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Betty Herzner

EDITING: Imke Koseck, Anbela Angelovska

SOUND: Petar Jovanovski

Synopsis

Over the past twenty years, thousands of young women and men were recruited in North Macedonia to work for example in the kitchens and laundries of the American military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their wages – up to 30 times higher than national levels – were then invested by their families back home in the construction of small palaces and lucrative real estate. With the withdrawal of the last troops from Afghanistan in 2021, many of them returned home with deep traumas and war experiences. This documentary depicts the complex connections between supposedly far-off and abstract wars and their very real effects at home. It demonstrates the price of labour migration and exposes the gains and losses of decades of political and economic crises.

Thursday 24.11. / 15:30h / ZAAL 3   

Saturday 26.11. / 12:00h / ZAAL 6

Director’s statement

The starting point for my film was my interest in the new forms of labour migration in North Macedonia in the past 20 years. Thousands of young Macedonians left their country with the aim to earn money in war zones in the Middle East in order to realise their dream houses when they return home. A protagonist in the film explains this existential need with a Macedonian saying: “If you haven’t built a house, you haven’t lived”. It was astonishing to see that Kumanovo, the country’s second large city, was witnessing an excessive building boom at the peak of an economic crisis. In my father ́s hometown almost everybody has a family member who worked in the Middle East. I knew that when I started shooting the film, but I was not aware how deep the experience from the war zones affected life on all levels.

Festivals & Awards (selection)

Berlinale, 2022 | Sarajevo Film Festival, 2022

Director’s bio

The filmmaker and artist lives and works in Hamburg. She studied visual communication with a major in film and media philosophy at the Academy of Fine Arts Hamburg and has lectured at art academies and universities since 2005. Her films and video installations, which explore constructions of identity and take a critical look at representation, have been presented internationally in art institutions and at film festivals. Her documentary Hakie – Haki. Living as a Man premiered at the 65th Berlinale.