First ever Albanian horror movie makes world premiere
- Directed by Greek-Australian Steven Kastrissios and Albanian-Australian producer and actor Dritan Arbana, both of whom based in Australia, the movie treats the much rumoured topic of blood feuds in some remote Albanian areas based on Kanun, a medieval code of conduct covering every aspect of life
TIRANA, March 2 – “Bloodlands” has made its world premiere as an Albanian-Australian co-production, marking the first-ever Albanian horror movie with an Albanian setting and cast.
Directed by Greek-Australian Steven Kastrissios and Albanian-Australian producer and actor Dritan Arbana, both of whom based in Australia, the movie treats the much rumoured topic of blood feuds in some remote Albanian areas based on Kanun, a medieval code of conduct covering every aspect of life. The movie that made its world premiere at Scotland’s FrightFest Glasgow festival late last February is set to tour several other festival before making its premiere in Albania later this year.
Shot in the outskirts of Tirana, the thriller, explores blood-feuds, also treated in several other Albanian movies, but this time through the lens of a horror fable.
Speaking in an interview ahead of the movie premiere, Steven Kastrissios told the UK’s Horror Channel it all started several years ago when having coffee with his Albanian-Australian friend, Dritan Arbana. “He told me about the blood-feuds and I instantly saw an idea for a story and also importantly, how to make it a viable production with limited means,” says the 34-year-old film director.
Asked about why he had decided to shoot the movie in Albanian language, the director said putting it in English would have been a terrible decision.
“Certainly having non-English language does hurt sales internationally, but what’s the alternative? Having Albanians speak English instead? People have suggested that, but I think that’s a terrible decision long-term that would seriously compromise this project. Albanian is an ancient language rarely heard outside of the region and it’s one of the few that has no root in other languages, so we should preserve it,” says the director.
The Australia-based director says the story he wrote back in Sydney felt authentic when he visited blood-feud affected areas in Albania.
“The Albania I saw, mainly when we were location scouting, knocking on doors and seeing into people’s home lives, gave me confidence to know that the story I’d written in Sydney felt authentic to Albania. I’m half Greek and Albania and Greece share a border, so there was that familiarity for me as well. Although the two countries certainly have significant cultural differences, there is still a Mediterranean through-line that is similar,” he said.
Alesia Xhemalaj, one of the movie’s actors starring as Ilirjana, a young women in her 20s, says she was lucky to be part of the movie.
“The movie belongs to the horror genre which has not been experimented earlier in Albania. I was lucky to be part of the production with a professional director such as Kastrissios and very good cast of actors that made you feel comfortable,” she has told Albanian media.
Back in 2011, the Forgiveness of Blood, another movie focusing on blood feud conflicts directed by America’s Joshua Marston, grabbed the Silver Bear Award at the Berlinale 2011 for the best script written by Albania-born, New York-based scriptwriter Andamion Murataj.