North Macedonia, Belgium, Slovenia, Germany


In Paris, Helena witnesses her son’s suicide. Noah confesses the horrible truth of his father’s abuse, but Helena refuses to believe him. Her son falls over the balcony railing into the night. From this moment on, Helena’s world is turned upside down as her struggle for survival transforms into a hunt for revenge. Ajsun is a dreamer who lives with her father and her son Ilkin. In the high mountains of Macedonia, their existence is simple and harsh. Life has a different pace and purpose there, the daily survival is what drives them all. Ajsun dreams to be reunited with Lucien, the father of her son. This is a story of two very different mothers: one that needs to punish in order to get by and the other that is forced to accept daily punishment in order to exist. This is a story of inner rage and of suffering a silent violence and of one woman’s need to externalise it in order to justify her own existence. The other woman has to fight against traditions, patriarchy, religious and ethnic barriers just to be with the man she loves and to reunite her family. These two women from different parts of the world will end up affecting each other’s lives in the most unexpected ways. THE WOMAN WHO BRUSHED OFF HER TEARS tells a story about the various types of imprisonment we create for ourselves or are forced into. Helena’s path is precisely traced; a path she is unable to change. Ajsun wants to live. Both aspire to be free. This is a story of two destinies coming into one, of two women coming into one, and of two worlds becoming one.

Director's Statement

− Two Parts Make a Whole − THE WOMAN WHO BRUSHED OFF HER TEARS is a film in search of humanity. The story told is of people out of place, of individuals who defy their society’s chains in the attempt to free themselves. The two parts of the film − France and Macedonia – are interdependent. They complete the puzzle and hold together the essence of the story of two very different women. The Macedonian part of the story is inspired by the Flaherty documentary approach, where ethnicity is not a novelty or a spectacle. By careful observation of everyday tasks, the true nature of characters is revealed. Visually, the entirely directional/interior treatment of the French part contrasts with the poetic observational treatment of the Macedonian part in order to create a hybrid of the two. It was definitely a challenge to tell two stories and make them feel as one. Helena’s story was always about emotion, while Ajsun’s was more about action. Even when Helena takes action, she does it in the name of both women. This idea helped me throughout the writing as if I was dealing with one character and not two. From the beginning I knew that the two stories would be complete opposites in all possible ways: visually, but, even more importantly, in philosophy, in the way the two women view the world. In a way, I am referring to myself, these two parts of me: a Macedonian woman now living in the West.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Teona Strugar Mitevska

Written by: Teona Strugar Mitevska

Produced by: Labina Mitevska

Cinematography: Mátyás Erdély

Editing: Nicolas Gaster

Production Design: Vuk Mitevski, Stephan von Tresckow

Cast: Victoria Abril (Helena), Labina Mitevska (Ajsun), Jean Marie Galey (Emil), Arben Bajraktaraj (Lucian)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2012