How can one find the power to forgive?

TRADITION: An age old Albanian tribal code forces a bereaved family to reconcile with their daughter’s murderer.
Director: Marija Zidar
Country: Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo

In 2013, in the highlands of Albania, an 18-year-old girl named Gjyste Paplekaj was shot and killed. According to the ancient code of conduct called Kanun, which despite different efforts to outlaw, still regulates life for a large part of the population in the north and centre of Albania – reconciliation is possible between the family of the victim and that of the killer. It is a process that can start a year after the killing and involves priests, friends, and acquaintances. Marija Zidar’s film captures the weight and the pain of this attempt at mediation, and in the process, reveals the depth of the cross-generational conflict that culminated in Gjyste’s death.

Reconciliation, a film by Marija Zidar
Reconciliation, a film by Marija Zidar

The weight of what remains

Each shot of Zidar’s film bares the weight of what remains in the aftermath of the young girl’s death. Both sides – her family and the family of the killer – are hurt, and the ones attempting to have them reconcile, go back and forth. They offer understanding to the victim’s family, and space to repent to the other side, trying to create . . .

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Bianca-Olivia Nita
Bianca is a freelance journalist and documentary critic. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.

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