Three Windows and a Hanging (Tri Dritare dhe një Varje) – Sarajevo 20

Isa Quosja directs a slow burning drama that is dealing with one of the most delicate and tabu issues in modern post-war Kosovo.

Three Windows and a Hanging

Almost a decade after his paradoxical film Kukumi, Isa Qosja returns with his latest work which is entitled Three Windows and a Hanging (Tri Dritare dhe një Varje). Back in 2005 Kukumi gained the international attention since it was the first feature film that was produced in the independent Kosovo. Once again Isa Qosja stays closely to his country as he is dealing with the Kosovo War and especially with its aftermaths. Three Windows and a Hanging had its world premiere during the 20th Sarajevo Film Festival and participates in the Official Competition section.

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In the small village of Gur, three years after the war, time passes seemingly effortlessly and no one looks back to the past. Village’s president Uka (Luan Jaha) is quite popular and has everything under control. Suddenly a newspaper interview of an anonymous woman from the village destroys this calmness. According to the interview she and three other women were raped three days before the NATO bombing. While everyone is searching to find who that woman was, Uka reveals that it was Lushje (Irena Cahani), the teacher of the village. A series of events would lead to some unbearable revelations and the results would affect everyone.

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Isa Qosja is dealing with a very delicate and extremely sensitive issue for the Kosovars. The repeated rapes that were committed during the war are a common secret in these extremely closed and traditional communities. The victims are afraid to expose themselves or reveal anything to anyone since this automatically brings shame and embarrassment to themselves and of course their families too. Lushje is breaking this imposed omertà in a way to clear her consciousness. Her husband is missing all these years, she’s just living with her little son and she needs to feel free. When a rumor could bring problems to a conservative society then the events of a published interview are definitely leading to a catastrophic domino effect. Everybody’s suspicion becomes fear since nobody could ever admit that his wife had been raped while he was away.

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The storyline structure of Three Windows and a Hanging is quite unconventional since it opens as a lighthearted comedy and slowly evolves to a great tragedy without losing completely some of its comic bits. At the same time the film easily blends facts from the local tradition and glimpses of what is really happening behind the closed doors. This whole combination undoubtedly captures the viewer’s attention even when he is a complete stranger to the history or the region. Another factor that drives the dramatic climax to a higher level is Irena Cahani’s powerful performance as the tragic teacher. She clearly depicts the faces of all these women that must withstand an internal ostracism in their own communities as she immediately becomes transparent and unwanted to everyone.

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Isa Qosja could be declared as a true Balkan director since he doesn’t fear to present everything that is positive and negative to his homeland. It is really important to mention that he adapted easily to a completely different genre that his previous work. Kukumi was a poetic and liberal comic drama. In Three Windows and a Hanging, Qosja becomes more realistic and harsh although without losing aesthetically the essence of his images. His achievement becomes even more important since he doesn’t try at any point to manipulate the feelings of the spectator. Furthermore the almost complete absence of music brings on the spotlight all the sounds of a village that must immediately absorb an unexpected damnation. Finally the heroes which start as comic colorful caricatures are slowly turning gray and rot internally as the drama evolves.

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Three Windows and a Hanging seems as a slow paced drama that demands some time to burn everything that comes close to. It is uniquely threatening when an esoteric and personal tragedy suddenly becomes public and widespread. Isa Qosja’s brave decision to present in that sublime way this issue could hopefully provoke even a public discussion on these women.

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