The debut feature of director Antoneta Kastrati, Zana is a quiet drama following the story of a couple years after they lost their daughter during the war in Kosovo. Repressing her trauma, bereft mother Lume, played by Adriana Matoshi, suffers from vivid nightmares and violent hallucinations, while her mother-in-law piles on pressure to visit local healers and solve her “infertility issues”. Brought to life in the dreamlike style of David Lynch, these visions clash with the bucolic, overabundant vegetation that encompasses their lives in rural Kosovo.
Shot by Kastrati’s sister, cinematographer Sevdije Kastrati, and told from an unapologetic female perspective, the poetic yet haunting picture is an insight into Kosovo’s traditional family relations, superstitions and beliefs, and the lingering stigma surrounding mental health.
Kastrati, who lost her mother and sister during the war herself, says she is committed to examining otherwise taboo subjects in Kosovar society.
“In telling this story of war and recovery, it was important for me to talk about the patriarchy and society’s constructed beliefs that further imprison women,” she said in one interview for Toronto’s International Film Festival, where the film premiered in 2019. “I do not see oppression and brutality at home as separate from violence and brutality in war.”