Iluzija

Infobox Film | name =Iluzija (Mirage)


image_size =
caption = US movie poster of "Iluzija"
director = Svetozar Ristovski
producer = Svetozar Ristovski
writer = Svetozar Ristovski
Grace Lea Troje
narrator =
starring = Mustafa Nadarević
Vlado Jovanovski
Nikola Đuričko
Dejan Aćimović
Marko Kovačević
music = Klaus Hundsbichler
cinematography = Vladimir Samoilovski
editing = Atanas Georgiev
distributor = Crescent Releasing
Picture This! (US)
released = Canada:
11 September 2004
Macedonia:
11 March 2005
United States:
13 March 2005
runtime = 107 min
country = Republic of Macedonia
language = Macedonian
Albanian
budget = 600,000
gross =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website =
amg_id = 1:315421
imdb_id = 0368962

"Iluzija" ( _mk. Илузија; English: "Mirage") is a 2004 Macedonian drama film starring Vlado Jovanovski, Mustafa Nadarevic, Nikola Djuricko, and Dejan Acimovic, with Marko Kovacevic debuting in its lead role. It was directed by Svetozar Ristovski, who co-wrote the film with Grace Lea Troje. Taking place in the city of Veles, the film is a coming-of-age story about a talented but abused schoolboy who is betrayed by illusory hopes of a better future and transformed by harsh circumstances into a criminal. It offers a grim depiction of post-independence Macedonia, portraying it as a site of violence and corruption. "Iluzija" was Ristovski's feature debut as a director. Following its release in Canada and the United States, it was well-received by most critics, who have generally praised the film for its uncompromising realism and lead actor's performance. It won Best Feature Film during the 2005 Anchorage International Film Festival and was nominated for the Tokyo Grand Prix during the 2004 Tokyo International Film Festival.

ynopsis

The film takes place in Veles during the Republic of Macedonia's post-independence years. It tells the story of 13-year-old Marko Trifunovski (Marko Kovacevic), a talented but abused Macedonian schoolboy whose harsh circumstances gradually transform him into a criminal. Two mentors offer Marko hopes of a better future, but they eventually fail him, leading to his catastrophic change. The illusory nature of these hopes is foreshadowed by the film's epigraph, an aphorism from Friedrich Nietzsche's "Human, All Too Human": "Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man." [A different translation of this Nietzsche quote is available at [http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Human%2C_All_Too_Human Wikiquote] as Aphorism 71. URL retrieved May 2008. ] The film opens with Marko's difficult circumstances. Living in a run-down house beside a railway track, he suffers neglect from his family. They consist of his father Lazo (Vlado Jovanovski), a drunkard addicted to bingo and involved in a workers' strike; his cowed, unsupportive mother Angja (Elena Mosevska); and his promiscuous, abusive sister Fanny (Slavica Manaskova). At school, Marko suffers torment from bullies led by Levi (Martin Jovchevski), son of the Albanian police chief Blashko (Dejan Acimovic). To escape his troubles, Marko often takes refuge in a local train graveyard, playing chess to pass time. A sensitive boy, Marko has a talent for composing poetry; a character half-jokingly refers to him as "Kočo Racin II". A Bosnian teacher of Macedonian (Mustafa Nadarevic) becomes Marko's mentor. He encourages Marko to take part in a French-sponsored poetry contest whose winners will represent Macedonia in Paris, as well as to recite his entry during their school's upcoming Independence Day celebrations. He fills Marko with hopes of escaping his hometown through literary achievement to Paris, the "city of art". However, Marko's efforts gain only indifference from his family and mockery from school bullies. Although a kind man, his teacher offers little help. He flees when he witnesses Levi's gang beating up Marko outside his own apartment, and his attempts to banish Levi from his classes fail because of Blashko's intervention. Furthermore, Fanny begins an affair with a black Kosovo Force soldier, providing Marko's racist bullies with more fuel. Meanwhile, a scarred soldier (Nikola Djuricko) has taken up residence in the train graveyard. He plays chess with Marko, replacing a missing pawn with a bullet. Coincidentally, his name turns out to be Paris, the city of Marko's hopes. Paris becomes Marko's new mentor, teaching the boy to fend for himself: "Eat or be eaten." He promises to take Marko away from his hometown in the future. Under Paris' influence, Marko begins to drink, smoke, and steal. They commit several burglaries to fund their future journey, including one of a local Orthodox church. Marko is eventually caught peddling stolen perfumes. Taken into police custody, he is blackmailed by Blashko into becoming Levi's tutor. Levi in turn blackmails Marko into joining his gang for a school break-in, threatening him with his father's gun. Meanwhile, Marko's teacher subjects his poetry to severe criticism, devastating the boy. At his wits' end, Marko begs Paris to teach him how to shoot a gun. Dismissive at first, Paris finally agrees. At night, Levi's gang and Marko break into school. They vandalize its main office, setting student records on fire and locking Marko inside the burning room. Scarred in the face by a broken bottle and recognized by the night watchman, Marko escapes and seeks refuge in the train graveyard. There, he discovers that Paris has abandoned him, leaving behind his pawn bullet. Summoned by the principal to account for the vandalism, Marko refuses to denounce Levi's gang. He is condemned as a delinquent and expelled from school. Marko's teacher offers him no help, instead reporting him for alcohol and tobacco abuse. He replaces Marko with fellow classmate Jasmina (Marija Sikalovska) for their Independence Day poetry recital, ghostwriting a patriotic poem for her. Confronting Levi's gang, Marko takes away Levi's gun by force and loads it with Paris' bullet. Armed, he confronts his teacher during their school's Independence Day celebrations and denounces him for betraying his hopes. "There is no escape from the sewer," he concludes, shooting his teacher point-blank. As the boy staggers away, the film lingers on a close-up of his teacher's corpse, closing to the strains of Erik Satie's "Gnossienne No. 3". [ Peter L'Official identifies the Satie music in [http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0611,lofficial,72542,20.html his "Village Voice" review.] For corroboration, midi files of the Satie music are available at [http://www.kunstderfuge.com/satie.htm Kunst der Fuge.] URLs retrieved May 2008. ]

Cast

In order given by the film's credits: cite web
title = IMDB: Full cast and crew for "Iluzija" (2004)
url = http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368962/fullcredits
accessdate = May 2008
]
* Vlado Jovanovski as Lazo. Marko's father.
* Marko Kovacevic as Marko. This was Kovacevic's debut role as an actor. [ cite web
title = IMDB: Marko Kovacevic
url = http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1525994
accessdate = May 2008
] Svetozar Ristovski conceived of Marko's personality as a combination of outward fragility and inner toughness, choosing Kovacevic for his ability to project these dual qualities. [Hanrahan interview, 4:15-5:22.]
* Jordanco Cevrevski as Neighbor. He appears in the film's opening, quarreling with Lazo for disturbing the neighbourhood with his drunken antics.
* Elena Mosevska as Angja. Marko's mother.
* Slavica Manaskova as Fanny. Marko's sister.
* Mustafa Nadarevic as Teacher.
* Martin Jovchevski as Levi. Blashko's son.
* Nikola Hejko as Chernobyl. He appears as one of Lazo's cronies. Hejko was also casting director for the film.
* Marija Sikalovska as Jasmina.
* Dejan Acimovic as Blashko. Levi's father.
* Petar Mircevski as Policeman. He appears as one of Blashko's assistants.
* Andrijana Ristovska as Bingo Announcer. She appears in Lazo's bingo scenes. When a man takes over her task in one of these scenes, the bingo parlour responds with derision to her replacement.
* Nikola Djuricko as Paris. Ristovski intended the film to be ambiguous about Paris' existence, depicting him as a fictitious creation of Marko's escapist daydreams, but refusing to deny his existence by separating Marko's dreams and reality. [Hanrahan interview, 16:10-16:55.] Djuricko prepared for his role as Paris by weight-training for a month and learning Macedonian. cite news
title = Before Start of Filming of First Feature Film in 2003 - "Years of Hope" to start on May 6
work = Utrinski Vesnik
date = 14 April 2003
url = http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=6467
accessdate = June 2008
]
* Salaetin Bilal as Jeweller. He appears as a buyer for Marko's stolen jewellery.
* Tome Angelovski, Grace Lea Troje, Dejan Boskov as KFOR Soldiers. They appear as customers in a cafe where Marko is peddling stolen perfumes. Troje was also co-writer with Ristovski for the film, while Angelovski and Boskov were location managers.
* Alexandar Georgiev as Night Watchman.
* Bajrush Mjaku as Principal.

Major themes

Svetozar Ristovski intended the film to be a coming-of-age story about a boy's transition from childhood to adolescence in contemporary Macedonia. [Hanrahan interview, 0:50-1:49.] As part of this coming-of-age process, the protagonist Marko spends much of the film searching for paternal figures such as Paris and his teacher to compensate for his father's inadequacies and become alternative role models for him. [Hanrahan interview, 7:22-8:40.] The mysterious Paris, in particular, functions as a wish-fulfilment "mirage" for Marko. [Hanrahan interview, 16:10-16:55.] endemic in such conditions, [Hanrahan interview, 9:28-11:43.] while his failed hopes serve as a cautionary warning against the dangers of empty idealism in such situations. One critic saw Paris' bullet in Marko's chess set ("see figure on the right") as a metaphor for the threat of violence ever-present in their world. during Macedonia's post-independence years. [Hanrahan interview, 18:37-18:51.] Ristovski saw Marko's story as a dramatization of that predicament: " [Many people] see these trains that are going up and down, but they can't get on any of those trains. They can't really get out of their place, their country, their town." [Hanrahan interview, 18:51-19:07.] One critic saw Marko's train graveyard ("see figure on the left") as a metaphor for the hopelessness of his particular story: "there are tracks everywhere but no hope of transport." cite web
last = L'Official
first = Peter
title = "Tracking Shots: "Mirage"
work = The Village Voice
date = 7 March 2006
url = http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0611,lofficial,72542,20.html
accessdate = May 2008
]

Production

"Iluzija" was Svetozar Ristovski's first attempt at directing a feature film; his prior work included the short film "Hunter" (2000) and the documentary "Joy of Life" (2001). [ cite web
title = EastWest Film Distribution: Svetozar Ristovski
url = http://www.eastwest-distribution.com/director_ristovski.htm
accessdate = May 2008
] [ cite web
title = Macedonian Cinema Information Center: Ristevski Svetozar
url = http://www.maccinema.com/e_avtor_detali.asp?idsorabotnik=631
accessdate = May 2008
] According to a 2006 WKCR interview, his idea for the project came in the form of visual imagery for the film's final shot ("see figure on the right"), which served as a focal point towards which he worked out the rest of the film's events. [ Hanrahan interview, 19:59-21:38.] Ristovski collaborated with Grace Lea Troje on the script. He credited his Canadian-born colleague with providing the film an "international" perspective and giving its story a more "universal" dimension, [Hanrahan interview, 22:20-23:11.] thus steering it away from parochialism. According to "Variety", Andrei Tarkovsky's "Ivan's Childhood" (1962) was an important influence on the co-writers. The casting director for the film was Nikola Hejko, [ cite web
title = IMDB: Nikola Hejko
url = http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0374793
accessdate = June 2008
] who was chosen primarily for his prior work with juvenile actors in movies such as "Kolya" (1996) and "The Great Water" (2004). Hejko's tasks for the project included finding actors for the film's juvenile roles with the help of his assistant Maja Mladenovska. According to Ristovski, this involved searching various Macedonian schools for potential actors, [ Hanrahan interview, 3:03-3:40.] as well as months of test shooting and selection narrowing. [ Hanrahan interview, 3:03-3:53.] The film's adult roles were largely filled by actors from Macedonia and other Balkan countries. In various interviews, Ristovski cited several difficulties in producing the film. According to a 2005 interview, the project met with disapproval from the Macedonian government during pre-production. cite news
last = Weinberg
first = Scott
title = SXSW '05 Interview: "Mirage" Director Svetozar Ristovski
work = Hollywood Bitchslap
date = 12 March 2005
url = http://hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=1412
accessdate = May 2008
] Ristovski credited his cast and crew for their dedication towards the project despite this difficulty, likening their participation to "comradery in a battle". In his WKCR interview, Ristovski also cited lack of technical resources such as film equipment and film laboratory services, which had to be sourced overseas. [Hanrahan interview, 25:44-26:24.] -based Synchro Film to produce the film. cite news
title = Macedonia with Three Candidates for Mostra– Film of Svetozar Ristevski Applies for Venice
work = Vest
date = 13 July 2004
url = http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=10660
accessdate = June 2008
] The project had a budget of about 600,000 euros, [ On 14 April 2003, "Utrinski Vesnik" reported 550,000 euros as the film's budget. ( [http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=6467 "Before Start of Filming of First Feature Film in 2003 - "Years of Hope" to start on May 6."] . URL retrieved June 2008.) On 6 May 2003, "Dnevnik" reported 600,000 euros as the film's budget. ( [http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=6680 "Film - Shooting of "Years of Hope" by director Svetozar Ristovski Under Way"] . URL retrieved June 2008.) On 13 July 2004, "Vest" also reported 600,000 euros as the film's budget. ( [http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=10660 "Macedonia with Three Candidates for Mostra– Film of Svetozar Ristevski Applies for Venice"] . URL retrieved June 2008.) In all three cases, the budget is reported as approximate ("Utrinski Vesnik") or equivalent ("Dnevnik", "Vest") to 600,000 euros; this figure has therefore been cited in the article. ] to which the Macedonian Ministry of Culture contributed 500,000 and Synchro Film about 10%. cite news
title = Film - Shooting of "Years of Hope" by director Svetozar Ristovski Under Way
work = Dnevnik
date = 6 May 2003
url = http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=6680
accessdate = June 2008
[http://star.dnevnik.com.mk/default.aspx?pbroj=2141&stID=17681&pdate=20030506 Macedonian version.] ] During production, the film's working title was "Godini na nadez", cite web
title = IMDB: Release dates for "Iluzija" (2004)
url = http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368962/releaseinfo
accessdate = May 2008
] known variously in English as "Seasons of Hope" and "Years of Hope". The film's post-production took place in Austria.

The film was shot on location in Veles during May and June 2003. cite news
title = Macedonia in Great Festivals in North America and Asia - "Mirage" of Festivals in Toronto, Vancouver and Tokyo
work = Utrinski Vesnik
date = 13 August 2004
url = http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=10944
accessdate = June 2008
] Veles had been Ristovski's birthplace and childhood home, [Hanrahan interview, 16:59-17:10.] and his familiarity with the place served as an advantage for finding filming locations. [Hanrahan interview, 17:10-17:20.] He also had prior working experience with the film's cinematographer, Vladimir Samoilovski. [Hanrahan interview, 14:40-15:00. IMDB lists [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0373943/fullcredits "Radost na zhivotot" (2001)] as a Ristovski-Samoilovski collaboration. URL retrieved May 2008. ] According to his WKCR interview, he and Samoilovski aimed for a visual style that combined both "aesthetic beauty" and documentary-style "grittiness" in the film's depiction of Veles. [Hanrahan interview, 15:10-15:50.]

Distribution

The film is distributed by Crescent Releasing, with Picture This! Entertainment handling theatrical and video releases in the United States. [ cite web
title = IMDB: Company credits for "Iluzija" (2004)
url = http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368962/companycredits
accessdate = May 2008
] [ cite web
title = "Variety" Profiles: "Mirage"
url = http://www.variety.com/profiles/Film/main/176893/Mirage.html?dataSet=1
accessdate = May 2008
] Its world premiere took place in Canada on 11 September, 2004 during the 29th Toronto International Film Festival. In the United States, it premiered on 13 March, 2005 during the 12th South by Southwest Film Festival. [ cite web
title = SXSW 2005 Film Screenings: "Mirage"
url = http://2005.sxsw.com/film/festival/screenings/?a=show&q=545
accessdate = May 2008
] The film saw its first US theatrical release in New York City during March 2006, followed by a DVD release in July. [ cite web
title = IMDB: DVD details for "Iluzija" (2004)
url = http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0368962/dvd
accessdate = June 2008
] The film's European premiere took place on 21 November, 2004 during the 45th Thessaloniki International Film Festival. cite news
title = 45th Thessaloniki Film Festival – "Illusion" with Three Projections in Thessaloniki
work = Utrinski Vesnik
date = 23 November 2004
url = http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=11588
accessdate = June 2008
] In Macedonia, it premiered on 11 March, 2005 during the 8th Skopje Film Festival, [ cite news
title = Cultural Roundup
work = Southeast European Times
date = 9 March 2005
url = http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/roundup/2005/03/09/roundup-03
accessdate = June 2008
] [ cite news
title = Skopje Film Festival Begins on Friday
work = Macedonian Information Agency
date = 10 March 2005
url = http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Macedonian_News_Service/message/6156
accessdate = June 2008
] with a theatrical release following in April. [ cite news
title = Cinema "Millennium" – Premiere of "Mirage" of Svetozar Ristovski
work = Utrinski Vesnik
date = 8 April 2005
url = http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=12067
accessdate = June 2008
The Friday mentioned in the article is 8 April 2005. Times and venues for the theatrical screenings are available at http://www.culture.in.mk for the periods of [http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=12075 11 April 2005 - 17 April 2005] , [http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=12109 18 April 2005 - 24 April 2005] and [http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=12110 22 April 2005 - 24 April 2005] .
]

Reception

Box office

In the United States, the film opened in a single theatre on March 17, 2006 and grossed $1,511 during its one week of screening. cite web
title = Box Office Mojo: "Mirage"
url = http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=mirage.htm
accessdate = May 2008
] Overall, the film has grossed $2,241 in the United States.

Critical reception

The film was well-received by most film critics. In Rotten Tomatoes, it earned a "Fresh" rating of 82% based on 11 reviews, with an 86% "Cream of the Crop" designation based on 7 reviews. [ cite web
title = Rotten Tomatoes: "Mirage"
url = http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/mirage
accessdate = May 2008
] In Metacritic, the film earned a generally favourable metascore of 61% based on 8 reviews. [ cite web
title = Metacritic: "Mirage"
url = http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/mirage?q=Mirage
accessdate = May 2008
] In general, critics have praised the film for its uncompromising realism. After its Toronto premiere, "Variety" lauded the film as "a modest triumph of fearless acting and pointed social commentary". cite web
last = Cockrell
first = Eddie
title = "Toronto: "Mirage" (Macedonia)"
work = Variety
date = 13 September 2004
url = http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117924885.html?categoryid=31&cs=1
accessdate = May 2008
] Its release in the United States drew similar praise. "Ristovski needs us to feel his nation's torment, and he succeeds," [ cite web
last = Weitzman
first = Elizabeth
title = "Movie Digest: "Mirage"
work = New York Daily News
date = 17 March 2006
url = http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/entertainment/2006/03/17/2006-03-17_movie_digest.html
accessdate = May 2008
] wrote the "New York Daily News". "The Hollywood Reporter" found the film's treatment of Marko's story "unremittingly grim and powerful", cite web
last = Scheck
first = Frank
title = "Mirage" review
work = The Hollywood Reporter
date = 19 May 2006
url = http://www.allbusiness.com/services/motion-pictures/4790444-1.html
accessdate = May 2008
] while "TV Guide" praised it for being "tense [and] gripping" as well as "starkly beautiful". cite web
last = Fox
first = Ken
title = "Mirage" (2006, Movie)"
work = TV Guide
date = 17 March 2006
url = http://www.tvguide.com/movies/mirage/review/278991
accessdate = May 2008
] "The New York Times" faulted the film's story for being somewhat "underdeveloped", but concluded with guarded praise for its "unnerving window on a Balkan country". [ cite web
last = Genzlinger
first = Neil
title = "Hard Times for a Macedonian Teen"
work = The New York Times
date = 17 March 2006
url = http://movies.nytimes.com/2006/03/17/movies/17mira.html
accessdate = May 2008
] "The Village Voice" characterized the film's portrayal of youthful misery as a "wicked evocation of hopelessness". However, the film also received a few negative reviews. The "New York Post" summed up the film as "drab, despairing and pointless", [ Smith, Kyle (17 Mar 2006). "The pain in Spain creates familiar tears". "New York Post": New York Pulse, p. 58. ] while "Slant Magazine" found its treatment of Marko's story "shrill" and "unreal", likening the film to "drag [ging] the corpse of Billy Elliott " [sic] " through sewer water". [ cite web
last = Gonzalez
first = Ed
title = "Mirage" review
work = Slant Magazine
date = 8 March 2006
url = http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=2113
accessdate = May 2008
] Following its European premiere, the Macedonian daily "Utrinski Vesnik" praised the film for its realism and imagery, but concluded by criticizing its emphasis on misery for being one-sided. Critics have singled out Marko Kovacevic in his lead role for praise. His performance was lauded as "remarkable" by "Variety" and "superb" by "The Hollywood Reporter", while "The Village Voice" commended him for "channel [ing] gentle and ferocious with equal ease" in his depiction of the protagonist.

Awards

Notes

References

Reviews

* cite web
last = Cockrell
first = Eddie
title = "Toronto: "Mirage" (Macedonia)"
work = Variety
date = 13 September 2004
url = http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117924885.html?categoryid=31&cs=1
accessdate = May 2008

* cite web
last = Fox
first = Ken
title = "Mirage" (2006, Movie)"
work = TV Guide
date = 17 March 2006
url = http://www.tvguide.com/movies/mirage/review/278991
accessdate = May 2008

* cite web
last = Genzlinger
first = Neil
authorlink = Neil Genzlinger
title = "Hard Times for a Macedonian Teen"
work = The New York Times
date = 17 March 2006
url = http://movies.nytimes.com/2006/03/17/movies/17mira.html
accessdate = May 2008

* cite web
last = Gonzalez
first = Ed
title = "Mirage" review
work = Slant Magazine
date = 8 March 2006
url = http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/film_review.asp?ID=2113
accessdate = May 2008

* cite web
last = L'Official
first = Peter
title = "Tracking Shots: "Mirage"
work = The Village Voice
date = 7 March 2006
url = http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0611,lofficial,72542,20.html
accessdate = May 2008

* cite web
last = Scheck
first = Frank
title = "Mirage" review
work = The Hollywood Reporter
date = 19 May 2006
url = http://www.allbusiness.com/services/motion-pictures/4790444-1.html
accessdate = May 2008

* Smith, Kyle (17 Mar 2006). "The pain in Spain creates familiar tears". "New York Post": New York Pulse, p. 58.
* cite web
last = Weitzman
first = Elizabeth
title = "Movie Digest: "Mirage"
work = New York Daily News
date = 17 March 2006
url = http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/entertainment/2006/03/17/2006-03-17_movie_digest.html
accessdate = May 2008

Interviews

* cite web
last = Hanrahan
first = Brian
title = Art Attack / Friday 17 March: 9:00-10:00 pm / Part II: 9:30-10:00 / Director Svetozar Ristovski
work =
publisher = WKCR-FM
date = 17 March 2006
url = http://www.columbia.edu/cu/wkcr/arts/programs.html
accessdate = May 2008

* cite web
last = Weinberg
first = Scott
title = SXSW '05 Interview: "Mirage" Director Svetozar Ristovski
work = Hollywood Bitchslap
date = 12 March 2005
url = http://hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=1412
accessdate = May 2008

External links

*rotten-tomatoes|id=mirage|title=Mirage
*metacritic film|id=mirage|title=Mirage
*mojo title|id=mirage|title=Mirage
* [http://www.a1.com.mk/vesti/default.aspx?VestID=37368 A1 interview with Vlado Jovanovski] (Macedonian)


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