The Forgiveness of Blood

Nik is seventeen and is in his last year at high school in northern Albania. Something of a go-getter, Nik has decided that, as soon as he has his school graduation in his hands, he wants to open an internet café. He has also recently started having feelings for girls – and has fallen in love with a girl in his class at school. Nik’s sister Rudina is fifteen; she too has a clear idea of what she wants from life and dreams of attending university. But then their family becomes embroiled in a fight over ownership of some land and their father is accused of murder. All at once, Nik and Rudina find themselves drawn into a terrible vendetta. According to dictates of the Kanun, Albania’s centuries-old traditional laws, none of the family’s male members – not even their young seven-year-old brother – may leave the house. As long as their father is hiding in the mountains and Nik is prevented from showing his face in public, the family has to rely on Rudina, who is now obliged to leave school and take over her father’s affairs. The young girl clearly begins to flourish as a result of her new responsibility; her brother however feels nothing but anger and frustration as a result of his isolation. Somehow Nik has to put an end to this blood feud – even if it costs him his life. [Synopsis courtesy of the Berlinale]

J.A.C.E.

Twice-orphaned Jace, a seven-year-old Albanian of Greek origin, witnesses a massacre that wipes out his entire foster family in Argyrokastron, and then falls in the hands of a bunch of ruthless gangsters who “export” children abroad for various profitable reasons (ranging from beggary to organ trade). Jace ends up in Athens, Greece, begging at street corners, exploring the secret horrors of brutal institutions for young offenders or, much later, serving obscure patrons, in an underworld where violent loss seems to be his only destiny. The movie follows Jace’s inverted Odyssey in a dark universe of abuse, murder and fear, as he desperately (and silently) seeks for a “family” of his own or, at least, for a sense of belonging