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From Albania to Iran. Day 6 of the Sydney Film Festival 2011.

Today was my favourite Sydney Film Festival 2011 day to date, taking me from Northern Albania to Iran, focusing on family, and the consequences and fallout the actions of adults in conjunction with the culture surrounding them can have on their children.

The Forgiveness of Blood

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A Q&A always provides insight, and for me, not ever having heard of Joshua Marston [yes, I’ll have to watch Maria Full of Grace], doubly so.

I love that cinema can take me to places I’ve never been, and cultures I’ve never experienced, and it was interesting to hear that Marston primarily made The Forgiveness of Blood to gain a deeper understanding of Blood Feuds in Albania, conducting interviews and talking to locals for over a month as research in forming his vision for the film and securing funding for it in the process.

Twice in two days, I saw a film focused primarily on kids that weren’t previously actors. Marston did this for the realism, and I could feel it, along with an extreme sense of uneasiness for Nik and Rudina, with the stakes being so high, declared so early, and everyone in the family being reckless in their own way, especially Nik, experiencing cabin fever, and teenage romance.

The Kanun, Besa and a centuries old tradition of Blood Feuds whose legacy continues impacting Northern Albania in modern times, The Forgiveness of Blood provided a fascinating look into a culture previously unbeknownst to me.

A Separation

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Perfect, gut-wrenching human drama and emotion brought out by STELLAR all-round performances.

I may have been a tad over zealous in my Super 8 review, but the cast of A Separation well and truly are the best ensemble cast I’ve seen of this year. Never have I been so enraged at a character this year as I was of Shahab Hosseini’s Hodjat, or felt as much as I did for Sarina Farhadi’s Termeh, but this is singling out two performances from a cast that had no weak link.

The religious, gender and class aspects of Iranian culture were at the forefront of every action, and the script, complex, but grounded in realism. I laughed, felt infuriated, deeply saddened, and ultimately, loved every minute of it.

And to think I hadn’t bought tickets to either film until yesterday… As SXSW film festival director repeatedly said this year, “take a chance”.

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