I’ve been on the festival circuit recently (with my co-directed project SMALL, BEAUTIFULLY MOVING PARTS) and was lucky enough to see the Berlin world premiere and Chicago winner THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD. It recently made headlines when it was yanked it from Foreign Oscar competition for not being Albanian enough (read Anthony Kaufman’s story here), though the film itself is about a distinctly Albanian issue: the clash of modernity and time-worn cultural customs, this one being medieval blood feuds – rifts between families that can lead to the permanent threat of violence for men, prompting a form of vigilante house arrest that leaves the women and girls to become surrogate bread winners.
Marston, originally from Southern California, initially became intrigued when he read a news article about the phenomenon and began to do his research, boots on the ground. Unafraid of placing himself in cultures different from his own (see his debut feature, MARIA FULL OF GRACE), Marston boldly crafted a story with co-writer Andamion Murataj that dramatizes the futility of a feud from a teenager’s perspective – protagonist Nik (Tristan Halilaj), who just wants to be with his friends at school. Instead, he’s forced to grow up pretty quickly as the tension increases between his family and the neighbors, who his father and uncle attacked, claiming self-defense.