109 minutes, U.S.A.-Albania-Denmark-Italy, 2011, Subtitled, Colour, D-Cinema

Deserving winner of the award for Best Script at Berlin, director Joshua Marston’s follow-up to the acclaimed Maria Full of Grace represents a further endeavour to profile the often dangerous exploits of characters from remote parts of the world as they struggle to escape oppressive and unyielding environments. Teaming up with Andamion Murataj to pen the film, Marston’s The Forgiveness of Blood is a convincing portrayal of an Albanian family feud which originates in a dispute over land and culminates in a murder for which, according to ancient custom, both the perpetrator and his young family must pay.

Focussing in particular on Rudina and Nik, two teenagers forced into effective house arrest to redress the crime allegedly committed by their father, the film balances a moving portrait of resourcefulness and courage with one of intensified boredom and despair. Naturalistic performances add to the sense of urgency in this gripping story which ultimately scrutinises conflicting notions of freedom, justice and retribution. (Notes by Alice Butler.)

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