Director Joshua Marston (Maria, Full Of Grace) delivers a story about how traditional blood feuds in northern Albania still affect and create tensions between people also dealing with an ever-evolving social and political climate. The cast consists of both established and new actors from the region, some of whom have also personally been affected by blood feuds within their communities.
In order to fully appreciate everything that's happening in The Forgiveness Of Blood, it's important to understand a little about the tradition of blood feuds in Albania. Blood feuds are generally violent disputes between family groups that, regardless of how they started, affect and involve every member of those families. They can arise for different reasons, although many of them tend to center around property rights. Tensions may escalate over time or quite suddenly, but if a death occurs as a result, then a blood feud is born between the families, where retribution is demanded (and with tradition, it's more or less expected) by the family who lost a life. It's eye-for-an-eye taken to a broader and almost unregulated degree. The entire family of the person who took the life will often go into hiding, sometimes for months or years, because all of them, especially the males, become potential targets - or recompense - for settling the dispute. The family who suffered the loss are usually unwilling to rest the feud until they have either taken a life in return or there has been extensive (and often expensive) mediation in order to settle affairs.
Blood feuds in the region seem to have arisen for two reasons. The first is because of a perceived absence in adequate political means for justice. Albania for decades found itself in flux between different systems of governmental rule, as well as self-rule, which often left regional peoples unmoored from police protection and justice systems, something which didn't really lesson after their current autonomy arrived in the 1990s. As a result, a form of traditional law - captured in what is known as the Kanun - found some resurgence and tried to fill the void, and one of the things it allowed and semi-codified were these blood feuds to settle fatal disputes between families. But even the Kanun was only loosely followed in the details, often adhered to more by oral tradition than its written tenets, and resulted in something that often created more disharmony and confusion instead of less.