Film Review: Zana


The Yugoslav wars were horrific and a damning indictment on the impotence of the (then) European Communities to take action. Less than fifty years after the Holocaust we let a genocide happen on our doorstep. The repercussions still reverberate widely today. It’s likely that the results of systematic ethnic cleansing, rape, torture and murder will go on to haunt several generations of families still living in the region. As is the case in Zana.

Lume (Adriana Matoshi) is an Albanian woman living with her husband Ilir (Astrit Kabashi) and mother-in-law (Fatmire Sahiti) in a small Kosovan village. Despite trying just about everything medical science has to offer, she has been unable to give birth. Under pressure to fulfil her duties as a wife, she finally agrees to go and see a local witch doctor and then a televangelist. However, Lume is beset by nightmares and the closer she gets to becoming a mother the more past trauma haunts her every step.

Zana is a beautifully crafted film about the power of grief and the destruction and damage war inflicts on those touched by it. Civilian populations in war zones are often overlooked when counting the cost, but Lume will never be able to move on with her life. Her story is one amongst many. Superbly shot, written and acted, Antoneta Kastrati’s film is a powerful and affecting drama. Zana succeeds due to the quality of the filmmaking and a wonderful performance from Matoshi.

Zana is released on Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player and Barbican Cinema on Demand on 2 April.

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