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Alive!

A carefree Albanian student gets drawn into an ancient gjakmarrja, or blood feud, when he returns to his village of birth for a funeral in Artan Minarolli's ironically titled "Alive!"

With:
With: Nik Xhelilaj, Bruno Shllaku, Besart Kallaku, Nijada Saliasi, Xhevdet Ferri, Arqile Lici, Luljeta Bitri, Eni Cani.

A carefree Albanian student gets drawn into an ancient gjakmarrja, or blood feud, when he returns to his village of birth for a funeral in Artan Minarolli’s ironically titled “Alive!” As in scribe-helmer’s “The Moonless Night,” the shadow of the past and the burden of emigration hang heavy over the proceedings, though Minarolli again struggles to synthesize his ambitious themes, offering general outlines where telling details should be. Only a faint pulse on Euro webs seems likely.

When Koli (Nik Xhelilaj, photogenic but one-note) is summoned back to the mountains, he discovers he is wanted dead by a rival clan in retaliation for a long-ago vendetta. He goes into hiding at the home of his mustachioed uncle (Xhevdet Ferri) and kind cousin (Besart Kallaku) before making a run for it. Though reportedly reflecting an actual post-commie trend, Minarolli’s take on revived honor killings lacks texture and context, and the last scenes bafflingly focus on another Albanian tragedy altogether. Nighttime scenes are particularly grainy, though the rest of the pic is as handsome as its stubbled protag. Clarinet-infused score offers forlorn comfort. For the record, the onscreen title was “AL!VE.”

Alive!

Austria-Albania-France

Production: A Wildart Film (Austria)/Art Film (Albania)/Agat Films & Cie (France) production. (International sales: Wildart Film, Vienna.) Produced by Vincent Lucassen, Marie Balducchi. Executive producers, Artan Minarolli, Ebba Sinzinger. Directed, written by Artan Minarolli.

Crew: Camera (color), Jacques Bouquin; editor, Oliver Neumann; music, Baptiste Bouquin; production designer, Mihal Rama; costume designer, Emira Turkeshi. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (East of the West -- competing), July 4, 2009. Original title: Zit! Albanian dialogue. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Nik Xhelilaj, Bruno Shllaku, Besart Kallaku, Nijada Saliasi, Xhevdet Ferri, Arqile Lici, Luljeta Bitri, Eni Cani.

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