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Southeastern Europe’s distinctive jumble of nationalities is the real subject of “Balkan Bazaar,” but Edmond Budina’s return to the director’s chair following his far superior “Letters in the Wind” is as muddled as any Balkan border conflict. Though the story of missing bones and multinational disputes achieves the desired level of absurdism, its ragtag execution speaks of Budina’s discomfort as helmer-scripter (as opposed to thesp), while poor lighting and lensing make for unattractive visuals. Even fest play will be limited.

A mix-up sends a Frenchman’s bones to Albania. The man’s daughter Jolie (Catherine Wilkening, weak) and her half-Italian daughter Orsola (Veronica Gentili) travel to a small village near the Albanian-Greek border, where journalist/fixer Genti (Visar Vishka) helps them figure out what’s going on. Greek nationalists have erected a cemetery for compatriots killed in World War II, so to boost their numbers and possible territorial ambitions, they’re stealing Albanian bodies and reburying them as Greeks, in cahoots with the local priest (Budina). The story’s kernel, based on fact, is intriguing, yet overly expository dialogue and uneven acting undermine its merits.

Balkan Bazaar

Albania-Italy

  • Production: An Era Film, Mediaplex Italia production. Produced by Robert Budina, Sabina Kodra, Ennio de Domenicis. Directed, written by Edmond Budina.
  • Crew: Camera (color), Daniele Baldacci; editor, Marzia Mete; music, Admir Shkurtaj; production designer, Arian Risvani; costume designer, Stela Laknori. Reviewed at Sofia Film Festival (competing), March 11, 2011. Running time: 85 MIN.
  • With: <b>With:</b> Catherine Wilkening, Veronica Gentili, Edmond Budina, Luca Lionello, Visar Vishka, Erand Sojli, Artan Islami, Valentina Xhezo, Hajrie Rondo, Karafil Shena, Laert Vasili, Nikolla Llambro, Vasil Cuklla, Viktor Caro, Liliana Ristani, Marko Bitraku. (French, Italian, English, Albanian, Greek dialogue)
  • Music By: