Film explores centuries-old Albanian blood feuds

Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:05pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - "The Forgiveness of Blood" is a new film exploring centuries-old oral traditions that govern how some families in Albania settle their blood feuds to this day.

Modern clashes with medieval in U.S. director Joshua Marston's powerful movie, which has its premiere at the Berlin film festival on Friday.

It is the last of 16 competition films to be screened at the annual cinema showcase, and early critical reaction suggests it could be in the running for awards at the festival's closing ceremony on Saturday.

The Forgiveness of Blood centres on a family living in rural Albania which is drawn into a dispute with a nearby clan over access to land.

When the feud ends in murder, the aggrieved party imposes the harsh rules of the Kanun, a 15th century Balkan code that gives it the right to kill a male member of the offending family in retribution.

Rather than a simple eye-for-an-eye, other rules can be applied through the code which is not officially recognized in Albanian law, according to the filmmakers, but which has been imposed nonetheless.

At the center of the feud governed by adults' anger, pride, ignorance and intransigence is Nik, a 17-year-old who is no longer allowed to leave home for fear of being killed, his seven-year-old brother and Rudina, his 15-year-old sister.

Rudina is allowed out, and turns adversity into opportunity by finding extra sources of income as she seeks to support the family single-handed. But for Nik life becomes a nightmare, as opportunities for friendship, love and success pass him by.   Continued...