Based on a true story, Blerta Basholli’s affecting drama details one woman’s attempts to forge a new life for her family in post-war Kosovo.
Like many women in her community, Fahrije lost her husband in the conflict that ended in 1999. But because his body was never found, there is an expectation on Fahrije to put her life on hold until his return. In doing so, she must find a way to subsist on meagre welfare pay-outs. Instead, Fahrije goes against the dominant patriarchal forces and sets up her own business, making the local favourite avjar (a roasted red-pepper condiment). She finds a buyer in a supermarket owner in a nearby city and delivers the product herself. Her tenacity and desire to see her family live a better life attracts the opprobrium of local elders and members of her family who feel shamed by her activities. But gradually, other women in a similar situation embrace Fahrije’s outlook on life and challenge the narrow-minded traditions they have been forced to love by.
Basholli’s film is unfussy in depicting rural life. Cinematographer Alex Bloom’s brown palette doesn’t romanticise the countryside, while his hand-held shooting style gives the drama an edginess that hints at the growing unease around Fahrije’s challenge to outdated values. And both Yllka Gashi and Çun Lajçi are excellent as Fahrije and her father-in-law Haxhi, who eventually comes to appreciate the progressive worldview of his son’s wife.