Zana Image


By Alan Ng | January 5, 2020

Films serve a myriad of purposes, and in the case of Zana, it attempts to take you deep in the depth of trauma from the Kosovo war and allow you to experience a mere fraction of the pain. Anyone who has any PTSD can tell you that living from day-to-day is a task unto itself. Anything can trigger very real mental and physical memories like a smell, an image, or sound. Worse, it doesn’t go away with time. There cannot be healing until they’re brought to the surface (a whole other discussion).

I suppose another purpose of film is to provoke healing amongst survivors. There wasn’t one victim of the Kosovo war; there was a nation of victims. Maybe living through it together means you never have to bring it up because the other person knows exactly how you feel. But what is unspoken, needs to be spoken to find healing. Through ceremonies and memorials, the events of the war are commemorated, but the real effects of the war are then shoved under the rug for another year.

“…effectively uses horror techniques to convey Lume’s nightmares and its effects on her attempts to cope with life.”

Zana is quite a feat in indie filmmaking. Director Kastrati effectively uses horror techniques to convey Lume’s nightmares and its effects on her attempts to cope with life. She has a keen understanding considering she survived the war first hand. She cinematically turns day to night to signify a dream’s transformation to a nightmare. She uses sound to increase anxiety in Lume and brings the mystical and spiritual elements of her plight to turn her friends and family against her. The only one who seems to have any sympathy for Lume is her husband Ilir. Let’s also add a haunting ending to boot.

Zana is a touching, anxiety-inducing story about the effects of unexposed trauma…with horror elements added for effect. It’s the story of a people and a war that we American’s know little about and is worth recommending.

Zana screened at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and the 2020 Palm Springs International Film Festival.

Zana (2019)

Directed: Antoneta Kastrati

Written: Casey Cooper Johnson, Antoneta Kastrati

Starring: Adriana Matoshi, Astrit Kabashi, Fatmire Sahiti, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Zana Image

"…"Lume and Ilir are advancing in age and they have no children.""

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