ZANA ****

Directed by Antoneta Kastrati

Starring Adriana Matoshi, Astrit Kabashi, Fatmire Sahiti

Drama/Mystery Kosovo, 96 minutes.


Released on Curzon Home Cinema, BFI Player and Barbican Cinema On Demand on 2nd April.


Two of the best films of 2020 were Rose Glass’s SAINT MAUD and Natalie Erika James’s RELIC – features that filtered themes such as mental health and dementia through the horror metaphor of possession. In a somewhat similar ilk comes Antoneta Kastrati’s ZANA, a haunting and moving tale of grief and loss in the long shadow of a somewhat forgotten war.


Adriana Matoshi stars as Lume, a Kosovan woman being pressured by her family to bear a child. Under the pressure of a patriarchal society (in the guise of her husband and overbearing mother-in-law) she could well be replaced in the family home if she does not do so and subsequently she consults local witch doctors and ‘healers’ to rectify the situation. This leads others to believe that she may be possessed by an evil spirit, as Lume grapples with a trauma from her past that haunts her through her dreams.


Kastrati – who also writes and edits – paints a surreal landscape built around the character of Lume whose hidden pain and torment are etched deep beneath her quiet exterior, encapsulated via Matoshi’s pitch perfect performance. She is lost amongst an overbearing society that doesn’t seem to care for her inner turmoil, nor notice the fact that she may well be the only sane character that they encounter.


It plays with the nature of time as flashbacks and nightmares become interspersed to the point where what is real and what is not becomes lost amidst the despair. Not that it really matters – for this is an examination of inner turmoil – a tragic tale of tragedy, sorrow and loss – with a finale that, much like the aforementioned RELIC, is terrifying by the sheer sadness of it all.


Phil Slatter.


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