Director Joshua Marston, stars Tristan Halilaj, Refet Abazi, and Sindi Lacej, and co-writer Andamion Murataj in person!
In his long-awaited follow-up to 2004’s Maria Full of Grace, American indie director Joshua Marston ventures even further afield—to Northern Albania to be exact—but the results are no less gripping. The action centers on a modern-day blood feud in a rural village: high-schooler Nik is confined to his home under effective house arrest when generations of bad blood between his family and another result in his father killing a neighbor over a petty land-access dispute. According to the 15th-century Balkan code known as the Kanun, the rival clan is entitled to retribution—a life for a life—and since dad is on the run, Nik and his younger brother are the next males in line. While town elders attempt to broker a peace, it’s up to Nik’s 14-year-old sister Rudina to step up, assuming responsibility for their father’s daily bread delivery route and getting her first taste of the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Eliciting exceptionally strong naturalistic performances from a mixed cast of professional and nonprofessional actors, Marston never forces things or falls back on melodrama while maintaining a quietly tense tone. The Forgiveness of Blood brings the viewer face to face with the contradictions of a way of life in which ancient and modern coexist (Nik and his sister are children of the Internet and cell phones but the family delivers bread by horse and cart) and, despite the impossible situation facing its protagonist, never condemns customs and traditions that are intrinsic to the cultural heritage of a world it faithfully depicts. Little wonder that Marston and co-writer Andamion Murataj won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival.