The Forgiveness of Blood

September 17th, 2011

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The Forgiveness of Blood

Still of Tristan Halilaj in The Forgiveness of BloodStill of Joshua Marston in The Forgiveness of BloodStill of Tristan Halilaj in The Forgiveness of BloodThe Forgiveness of BloodStill of Tristan Halilaj in The Forgiveness of Blood

An Albanian family is torn apart by a murder, resulting in a blood feud that finds Nik becoming the prime target and his sister, Rudina, forced to leave school in order to take over the family business

Release Year: 2011

Rating: 6.6/10 (312 voted)

Critic's Score: 72/100

Director: Joshua Marston

Stars: Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacej, Refet Abazi

This film's center is a family in Albania. The main characters are Rudina, the oldest daughter, and Nik, the oldest son. Both have a pretty normal life. Rudina is an A-student in high-school and Nik very popular. He just fell in love with one of his fellow students. Their father earns the families income with a little bread delivery service. For that he uses a short cut through the neighbours ground, but the neighbour doesn't necessarily like that. But the ground had actually belonged to Rudina's and Nik's family once. One day the conflict escalates and the neighbour gets killed by Rudina's and Nik's father and their uncle. Because only their uncle gets caught by the police and their father is able to hide, the old law of blood feud is against the family. They cannot leave their house. Only the women of the family are allowed to leave the house. So Rudina has to quit school and continue the bread delivery service of the father...

Writers: Joshua Marston, Andamion Murataj

Refet Abazi -
Tristan Halilaj - Nik
Sindi Lacej - Rudina
Ilire Vinca Celaj -

Release Date: 17 September 2011

Technical Specs


User Review

A country like no other


Back in the 15th.Century, a certain prince Leke Dukagjini gathered together a collection of Albanian traditional customs and cultural practices that came to be known as "The Kanun of Leke Dukagjini." This collection was passed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next, and has governed the way Albanians have behaved pretty much ever since. Book Ten section three of the "Kanun of Leke" as it was commonly referred to, deals specifically with the rules in regard to a dispute between one neighbour and another. It states that, should a quarrel between two neighbours, for whatever reason, escalate and turn violent then the victim can invoke the age-old ritual of the blood feud, which states that the victim has the right to kill all males in the perpetrator's family. However, in a somewhat surprising twist, there is also a tradition throughout Albania known as "Besa." Roughly translated, "Besa" means, "to keep the promise" or "word of honour." There's a saying in Albania that says: "Albanians would die rather than break Besa." So while the men remain in their home, and at the discretion of the victim and his family, they will not be killed for the first twenty-four hours the blood feud has been preordained. Joshua Marston's latest film, "The Forgiveness of Blood" – is set in modern day Albania and tells the story of two families caught up in a blood feud. Every day the father and daughter set off in their horse and cart to deliver the bread to the people and café owners in the nearby village. Obviously, they quicker they can deliver the bread the more quickly they get paid. To this end, the father uses a neighbour's land as a short cut. The neighbour resents this and has already placed large stones to deter the father trespassing on his land. The father just removes the stones and goes on his way. The very next day the father finds his access completely blocked, with the neighbour standing there waiting to see what will happen. They get into an argument, but the neighbour refuses to budge. Eventually, the father has to take the long way around. Director Joshua Marston's previous film, "Maria Full of Grace" focused on the risks of becoming a drug mule, and the consequences of putting one's life at on the line, quite literally, by swallowing pellets of cocaine for a quick $5000 once the drugs are smuggled into New York. What made this film stand out above the usual kind of film dealing with the drug scene, is that it showed what the consequences of such reckless behaviour can lead to, even though Maria's decision to become a drug mule was borne out of desperation. Similarly, "The Forgiveness of Blood" is not just a film about a blood feud. It's a film about the far bigger issue of the how the average Albanian is forever trying to escape his violent and troubled past, first under the Ottoman Empire, and then under the Communist dictatorship of Enver Hoxha. Like most despots, Enver Hoxha simply eliminated dissent, by imprisoning thousands in forced-labour camps or executing them for crimes such as alleged treachery or for disrupting the proletarian dictatorship. In fact, for the only time in its centuries old history, did the practice of blood feuds cease - brutally stamped out by Enver Hoxha's Secret Police. The Communists were finally voted out of power in 1990. Two years later in 1992, Albania became a Republic. It wasn't long before Albanians woke up to the realisation that the new government was no different from the old government. Gradually the settling of scores by blood feud began to flourish once more, even as the future for Albanians seemed bleak to the point of despair. As the film unfolds, it's hard not to believe that one is actually watching a documentary. This can in no small way be attributed to the fact that the director chose to use a cast non-professional actors, especially Sindi Lacej as the daughter, Refet Abazi as the father, and Veton Osmani as the hot-headed neighbour – indeed, all the 'actors' in this remarkable film, do an outstanding job, and help shine a light on a country that is many ways, will forever be stuck back in the Dark Ages. P.S. Should you want to find out more about the history of this country? Check out a book by Robert Carver called: "The Accursed Mountains." It is a really fascinating look into this most enigmatic of countries.

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