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WAR ZONE AT THE FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE PROGRAMMES AUDIOVISUELS FIPA 2009

15.01.2009

WAR ZONE AT THE FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE PROGRAMMES AUDIOVISUELS FIPA 2009

MEGA Channel's awarded documentary series, "War Zone" by Sotiris Danezis, has been selected for the official program at one of Europe's most important festivals of audiovisual programs, FIPA 2009.

The documentary "Kanun-The Law of Honor and Blood" directed by Dimitris Gerardis, was chosen to compete with 15 other documentaries from all around the world in the category "Reportage/Current affairs".
 
Started in 1987 in Cannes, FIPA (Festival International De Programmes Audiovisuels) is now taking place in Biarritz. It is one of Europe's most important and prestigious festivals and every year it receives thousands of applications in various categories (TV movies, series, creative documentaries etc).
 
Along with FIPA, FIPATEL is taking place as one of the most well-known "markets" in television, and every year executives from television networks and production/distribution companies from all over the world can watch and choose programs that interests their public. The FIPA International Festival 2009 will take place in Biarritz from 20 to 25 of January.
 
WarZone’s documentary will be shown to professionals and the audience that comes from across Europe. An international critics committee of 5 people will decide which two documentaries will receive the honorary awards "FIPA D’OR" and  "FIPA D’ARGENT", while a committee of young people from European countries will award the "European Youth Award" to one of the contesting documentaries. "Kanun-The Law of Honor and Blood" which was filmed in northern Albania in March 2008, will be shown on Wednesday 21/1 and on Thursday  22/1.

More information about the FIPA can be found in its official website. http://www.fipa.tm.fr/en/index.php

Press release War Zone

"KANUN, THE LAW OF HONOUR AND BLOOD"

For more than 6 centuries in the Albanian north blood is repaid with blood. The law of the vendetta is holding thousands of people hostage. Families are at war for killings that place more than half a century ago. The passion for revenge will even kill small children.

Those who want to live have had to turn their homes into prisons. Some remained imprisoned for their entire lives...It is estimated that 800 - 1,500 children in Albania are living in fear because of the threat of Vendetta. They grow up cage in, with no access to school. They are not even allowed out to play.

In the so-called "valley of death" people have been taught by their ancestors to settle their differences with their weapons, following the rules of a justice system carried down through the generations from the middle Ages.
 
"Kanun, The law of honour and blood" is the new feature by Sotiris Danezis’ War Zone, on Tuesday 29 April at midnight on Mega. 

Since the 15th century "Kanuni" has placed personal honour above any other value in life. According to Kanuni every insult is cleansed with blood while every death must be avenged.

It is estimated that almost 10,000 people have been murdered since 1990 in the name of honour and revenge. A further 20,000, members of families at war with other families live in fear, while some even spend years behind closed doors.

The reason behind this is murders and "insults" that occurred as far back as half a century ago. The insulted member takes revenge, forcing the victims family to do the same. Strike after strike families are locked in a vicious circle of blood and often forget how the dispute began.

All the men in the family care about is washing the shame away, not necessary with the blood of the perpetrator but with the blood of any one their relatives. Even women and children.

War Zone meets with the victims and perpetrators and the children that are being held hostage by hate and revenge. It enters the prisons that are their homes and records the despair and the hope of forgivness.  

12 year old Nickolin is paying for a crime that took place 35 years ago, long before he was born. "I don’t go to school because we have blood with someone. I don’t go out, not too far because I am scared of the vendetta. If I go out they will kill me". 

Revenge is part of Kanuni. A number of rules dictated by 15th century Albanian prince Lek Dukagin guided all human relationships, whether relating to the family or business.

The new Albanian legal code makes no reference to Kanuni. It doesn’t recognise honour crimes and incorporates no laws to deal with them. In reality however, Kanuni continues to dictate the lives of rural Albania.

This is not occurring because there is a lack of government" says Professor of Law Ismet Elezi. "There are no state authorities that will prosecute murderers. That is why vistims must take the law into their own hands and start a vendetta".

Bukirie Dimbra’s husband was killed before her very eyes 7 years ago. "I found him lying in a pool of blood. I touched him. The only words he said were ?leave now or they will kill you too?. At the time I was carrying our 4th child". In this family there are no men left to avenge the blood that has been spilt. One of their four daughters will have to do this. "When one of the women picks up a weapon she will be doing it for the whole family. That weapon will then become "beautiful" because it will have taken back her father’s blood. Kill the killer. That is it. Kill whoever kills you".

Hikmet Barsima is 17 years old. He lives confined to his home out of fear of the vendetta. His father is in prison for killing a child. "My life is in here behind bars. I am only 17 and I feel like my life is over. I can’t have a future".

Since 1945 the communist government has banned the enforcement of Kanuni. In 1990 the Medieval code rose once again up from unrest and the political chaos that followed democracy. With the people’s cultural conscience eroded by propaganda, the misinterpretation of Kanuni is a frequent occurrence.
 
According to the unwritten rules dictated by Lek Dukagini’s Kanuni, insulting one’s honour cannot be washed with money or wealth but with blood. The only other way is through honest, brave and total forgiveness. The biggest insult to a man is to name him a liar in the presence of others. That is followed with insulting his wife or stealing his weapons and disregarding his hospitality.

Today, Kanuni is often used as an alibi for a number of killings. This medieval code of honour is used by smugglers, thieves and criminals as a means of settling differences. The unwritten rules of a mountainous race have become an excuse for common criminals.

Every year hundreds of Albanians are murdered in countries around the world where they have fled to escape. They are killed in the streets of Athens, Rome and New York City. Authorities close the cases by tagging them the result of personal differences. In reality it is the export of the Albanian vendetta.

Anyone who doesn’t seek revenge lives in shame. They are rejected by society. They are avoided in the street.

However there are many who see no reason to continue this cycle of violence. Don Pieter Zefi lost his brother but does not want revenge, only justice. "If I find out who killed him then let the government put him on trial. The government should give him the maximum sentence, what he deserves. I can forgive a killer, but the government shouldn’t. the government must condemn him".

CREDITS

Directed: Dimitris Gerardis
Script: Sotiris Danezis
Producer: Ioanna Bratsiakou
Research - Assingment: Anastasia Moumtzaki, Ioanna Bratsiakou
Video Editors: Kostas Christakopoulos, Pavlos Kontogiorgis     
Original Score: Giorgos Magoulas
Executive producer: Litsa Delli

War Zone’s documentary was first broadcasted on Mega, on April 29, 2008.
 
For more information on the documentary, or to watch it online:"KANUN, THE LAW OF HONOUR AND BLOOD"


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