The Heartfelt Journey of ‘Housekeeping for Beginners’: A Tale of Queer ‘Found Family’

: is a filmmaker, in the year 2022 known for works like “You Want to Be Alone” and “Of an Age”.

Director Goran Stolevski
(Image source: Twitter@BFI)

He has a remarkable ability to create films that penetrate deep into the human mind. Just the right amount of sadness to deeply affect the audience.

Goran Stolevski's latest effort, “Housekeeping for Beginners,” marks his third feature film, focusing primarily on a “” of eight people after the loss of the woman who served as the centerpiece of their lives.

Scheduled to release in select theaters on Friday, April 5. The ensemble production draws its inspiration from a 1970s photograph taken by one of Stolevsky's acquaintances.

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“He posted this random snapshot from their day-to-day life, and I just remember looking at it and going, like, what a great space — a little cocoon where you can be relaxed and live your messy life on your terms, in a time and place where that wasn't possible for most queer people,” Stolevski told NBC News in an interview.

He then thought of adapting what Stolevsky saw in those decades-old pictures to a modern-day context in northern Macedonia, southeast Europe, just north of Greece.

“Macedonia is where I grew up, so it just felt natural, and also, Macedonia is a great stand-in for pretty much all of Eastern Europe and southern Europe,” the director, who moved to Australia as a teenager, said. “From a Western, Anglo-Saxon perspective, it's this kind of exotic place, but, in reality, most queer lives in most countries today are shaped by a much more similar reality to what Macedonians are dealing with than to what we are.”

While the film opens on an upbeat note, with three of the family's youngest members — Mia, 5; her sister, Vanessa, who's about 13; and newcomer Ali, 19 — dancing around the living room to a Macedonian pop song, it quickly gives way to more sobering scenes.

“The dynamic that emerged between the characters is this family dynamic that's very similar to how I grew up, because I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with six other people of three different generations — and that doesn't count the 47 cousins that came in and out of the house every day,” Stolevski said. “There's a warmth to me that comes from that time and a sense of belonging that I crave and miss, and I think that's the same kind of space that emerges in these overcrowded, found families.”

Capturing the beauty of ‘found families'
To achieve his vision of a multiethnic, messy cocoon of found family and queerness, Stolevski embraced a more free-wheeling approach to filmmaking than he's perhaps allowed himself to in the past. Alongside the more experienced cast members, he cast multiple first-time actors in lead roles, including Samson Selim (Ali) and his real-life daughter, Dzada (Mia). To help them tease out authentic portrayals — while still keeping his headstrong, 5-year-old star engaged — Stolevski said he nurtured an easygoing, exploratory environment during filming.

“It was a very free atmosphere on set, so they didn't shut down and become mechanical, because film set processes can be dehumanizing to the best actors, quite frankly, and I've tried to minimize that as much as possible in all my films,” Stolevski said, describing the filming as “loose and documentary style,” capturing snippets of the actors interacting in the family space. “There was a chaotic energy that I loved, and I felt would be indicative of this massive, overcrowded household with a 5-year-old in the middle.”

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