Director: Joshua Marston. Albania, 2010. 108 minutes. Cert: CLUB. Language: Albanian (subtitled).
Winner – Silver Bear for Best Screenplay, 2011 Berlin Film Festival
American director Joshua Marston emerged in 2004 with the jolting, Oscar-nominated Maria Full of Grace, about a young Colombian woman working as a drug mule. In his remarkable follow-up, The Forgiveness of Blood, he turns his camera on another corner of the world: contemporary northern Albania, a place still troubled by the ancient custom of interfamilial blood feuds.
From this reality, Marston sculpts a fictional narrative about a teenage brother and sister physically and emotionally trapped in a cycle of violence, a result of their father’s entanglement with a rival clan over a piece of land. The Forgiveness of Blood is a tense and perceptive depiction of a place where tradition and progress coexist uneasily, as well as a dynamic coming-of-age drama.
Marston’s outsider’s view lays bare the contradictions between the ancient tradition and the youngsters’ impatience, helped by fine performances from his largely non-professional cast.