film February 29, 2012 By Chloe Eichler

Forgive 1 The Forgiveness of Bloodfiller29 The Forgiveness of Bloodmartson title1 The Forgiveness of Blood
For his first film Maria Full of Grace, Joshua Marston teased an uncompromising and sincerely delicate story out of the world of Colombian drug trafficking, and won himself a slew of international awards in the process. Eight years later, his follow-up deals in a subject no less morally ambiguous. The Forgiveness of Blood asks what happens when two Albanian teenagers are drawn into a blood feud by their father, who may or may not have killed a man. Now according to Albanian social code, the family owes a life, and teenage siblings Nik and Rudina must put their entire lives on hold. The most jarring thing about these events is not the lengths the children must go to, or even the fact that all this is enforced by nothing but social code, with no state law to back it up. The real shock is that Nik and Rudina are modern-day Albanians bowing to a custom that’s hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.
     Shot on location from an entirely Albanian script, Marston recruited a cast of non-professional actors and stayed close to the land to raise some essential questions. To what extent are we responsible for the actions and beliefs of our families? What is the “right” retribution for murder? And how long will this ancient practice survive?

CE: Why Albanian blood feuds?
JM: I think the thing that’s fascinating about the blood feuds was more the contrast of the old and the new in Albania. Specifically the idea that someone, a kid, could be sitting in his house playing video games and sending text messages, but the reason that he’s in his house is that he’s stuck in a feud because of this old, ancient tradition.

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