The world outside the forest has been ravaged by a deadly pandemic. The forest is all what eight-year-old Marko has known and the only person he knows is his paranoid, protective Father.
His most precious possession is his Picture Book where he believes he can find the answers to everything.
His life suddenly changes when he discovers an innocent gentle boy with Down Syndrome named Miko living on the edge of the forest. Things turn for the worse when the boys are left alone to fend for themselves against the hordes of the Infected.
Marko has no clear idea of what it means to have a mother, but the boys must go on a journey to find her. Outside the safety of the forest, Marko is faced with a shattered world shrouded in silence and full of danger and death.

  • Vardan Tozija
  • Darijan Pejovski
    Three Days In September
  • Vardan Tozija
  • Darko Popov
    Snow White Dies At The End
  • Vardan Tozija
  • Anita Juka
    Infinity Pool
  • Adolf El-Assal
    Pamfir, Sharaf, Sawah
  • Patrice Nezan
    Corpus Christi, Leave No Traces
  • Sasko Kocev
    Key Cast
    "The Father"
    Snow White Dies At The End
  • Toni Mihajlovski
    Key Cast
    Toma, The Parade
  • Kamka Tocinovski
    Key Cast
    You Won't Be Alone
  • Matej Sivakov
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Sci-Fi, Drama
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 39 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 30, 2023
  • Country of Origin:
    Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
  • Country of Filming:
    Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of
  • Language:
    English, Macedonian
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • OneTwoThree Media
    Sales Agent
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Vardan Tozija

Born and raised in Skopje, Macedonia. Graduated at the Faculty of Drama Arts in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, Film and TV directing. Also attended law studies and political science studies at the State University of Cyril and Methodius. He is director and scriptwriter of several short films and Amok (2016) was his feature debut and M is his second feature.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Since I was very young, my father used to tell me how we all have impact on the world around us, and that it’s our responsibility to make it slightly better, even if maybe, at a time, it would seem like a delusion. Until his last days he persistently claimed I must believe that films should also bare those ideas and thoughts. Today, I comprehend his sadness and confusion of the reality that we live in, and the worry of the bleak outcome that our future may bring.
I was a fan of fantasy novels since my childhood. That was the initial impulse to put this fairy tale of a special little boy and his broken, stern father into a dystopian world.

“M” is a coming-of-age Sci-Fi Drama that portrays a grim vision of our near future, with a strong comment of how our world of today slowly descends into rage, humiliation, and despair. The virus is a metaphor for this downfall that we pave for ourselves. On the other hand, the story resonates with hope. Marko, the main protagonist, is a symbol of pure, innocent spirit, but also of courage, persistence and virtue that can overcome the bleak outcome that may one day come upon us.
The narrative threads of the story intertwine between Marko’s fantasies and the reality that surrounds him. The Little Prince as he is, cannot fully comprehend the terror that lies beyond his “magical forest”. Not being able to establish a normal emotional bond with his father, Marko wonders through imagination. Imagination conceived by his only source of knowledge – a children’s tale of a Forest child, raised by the magical forest, who eventually ends up seeking his maker, the golden Fairy. On the other hand, we, as observers, can feel the sorrow and despair that entangles the boy’s grim reality through the eyes of the Father.
“M” depicts the complicated connection between the grief-torn, paranoid father and the silent child, their solitude and isolation in the distant forest. At first glance, very few details and strange behavior would reveal the true content of the story. Another narrative angle is the pure-hearted friendship between Marko and Miko, the boy with Down Syndrome. My numerous experiences with kids from the Special Olympics have shown me how through sincerity and unconditional love, one could overcome every obstacle.
Ultimately, this story is about the quest for meaning of a lost little boy in a derelict world. After the death of his Father, Marko sets off to find the Fairy of his picture book. In the boy’s mind, it represents a mother figure, a symbol of compassion and gentle love, things he was deprived of and has longed for.
The premise of the plot is that the pain of the society outcasts, such as the fugitives scattered throughout the world, could metastasize into a virus of rage which turns all humans into primordial beings deprived of consciousness, driven only by instinct for survival. That is a metaphor of what I fear our world is heading – through the repression, humiliation, anger, neglect… and the continuous, hidden feeling of guilt that we are closing our eyes to while the ones less fortunate are pushed beyond all limits.
Two of our main characters in the film, Marko and Miko, are children aged eight and ten, working with the two young amateurs was an advantage and a privilege, not a handicap. My main goal was to avoid the over-dramatized, patterned acting expression with a slow-burning, lingering and discrete emotional states – this goes for both the children and the professional actors alike.

It was always a challenge to come upon a vision of what our world would look like if it would meet a bitter end. But I didn’t have to look far – the harsh post-transitional times left many countries, including mine, with places embraced by oblivion and decay. They made an almost ideal setting for the dystopian world of this story. That counts for most of the locations and sets, where the area was drowned in dust and corrosion. The only set built from scratch was the concrete shack in the forest where Marko and the Father live, since it had to meet the technical requirements of the visual narrative.
I strongly believe that this story should be visualized through a touch of magical realism and was shot using narrow, telephoto lenses capturing intensive, sometimes even dreamlike images with emphasized, piercing light outbursts in the interior, and magic-hour, low-sun natural light in the exterior sequences. Despite the usual “template” of magic realism, the overall photography and production design was determined by the texture of light and shadows, not saturation itself. The motion of the camera is restrained to necessity, not mere attraction. Some of the more intense scenes were shot with a hand-held camera, while in order to put an accent on the grotesque, sharp motions of the “infected” ones, a higher shutter-speed camera setting is utilized.
At the beginning, the usage of music is scarce, leaving space for the ambience of the “magical forest” to sink in with the viewer. But as we dive deeper into Marko’s emotional voyage, it becomes ever more present. The score would bear a gentle, lyrical sentiment, yet defined by minimal approach, played through soft piano and string tones.
For a long time now, I have a feeling that the films from the Balkan cinema follow certain, festival-anticipated pattern: dark, hyper-realist, contemporary social dramas, sometimes spiced up with a touch of dark humor. And while this tendency gave birth to some excellent films, I still doubt that many of them reach wider audience. I strongly oppose the idea that any film produced in this region should be restrained to a limited art-house release. Science fiction, or fantasy genre, has not been deployed much throughout the years, and I strongly believe that there is potential to appeal to wider audience and the trends it follows.