Albania wanted THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD to be its official submission for the Academy Awards this year, but it hit a snag with the Academy’s committee in charge of these things. When I spoke to Joshua Marston on February 6, 2012, I waited until our time together was winding down before I got that that bit of politics. I wanted to start by discussing first why Marston would go to Albania to make his follow up to MARIA FULL OF GRACE, and second, the fascinating and literally medieval tradition of kanun that governs the lives of so many modern Albanians. That tradition, that supersedes regular law enforcement, keeps people imprisoned in their homes, as is the case with the lead character in this film when his father commits a murder and its the family that sufferes the consequences. Marston, who learned Albanian to make this film on location, also detailed why being a stranger to the country and the custom can be an advantage before turning to the honor of how his film was received in Albania and the rules that kept it from consideration for an Oscar(tm), rules that have eccentric enforcement.
It’s a contemporary story about centuries’-old Albanian traditions that give new meaning to the idea of the sins of the father being visited upon his children. Set in modern-day Albania, it is the story of a dispute over a right of way that leads to a killing and the effect that is has on the children of one of the men accused of doing the deed. Particularly the eldest, Nik and Rudina, a brother and sister who in an odd way swap lives. Under a tradition called Kanun, the sons are not permitted to leave the house under penalty of death, leaving the women to carry on the day to day business of surviving in a modern world while living under the dictates of the 15th century. Marston directed from a script he co-wrote with Andamion Murataj, a script with won the Silver Bear at the 2011 Berlin Film Festival.
Marston’s previous work includes the lyrical and multi-award-wining, MARIA FULL OF GRACE, which also did very well at the Berlin Film Festival.