Review: Fence (2018), by Lendita Zeqiraj

Film still from “Fence” by Lendita Zeqiraj, Courtesy by Woof Films

A house in the suburbs of Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, is powered by feminine dynamics. The mood is cherfull and festive, but it is ocasionally turned into bickering and fight. Young Genti (Arti Lokaj) cannot seem to find his place in the house. All he wants for himself is a puppy, and he certainly cannot get it. So he is drawn to a Roma boy who occasionally passes by with his drum and his faithful stray dog. A fence between the yard and the outside world seems to divide the worlds. But is it so?

Fence, the short written and directed by Lendita Zeqiraj whose previous short films Exit (2004) and Balcony (2013) had traveled to a significant amount of festivals, scoring a number awards, is a peculiar one. It is relatively compact in its format (15 minutes) and sort of simply devised as one-take piece relying on swift camera movements inside and outside of the house, but there is more to it hiding beneath the surface, exploring the inner dynamics of the house dominated by the women’s probably first taste of freedom, but also the outer world and the fragile society of Kosovo.

One-take concept works perfectly, especially because it was filmed competently by Sébastien Goepfert in mostly drab nuances of grey and muddy colours, stating a thing or two about Kosovar reality. The acting is compelling, though sometimes over-expressive, but the chemistry and the relations between the characters are believable. Special kudos are reserved for the young Lokaj as well as the well-established actress Adriana Matoshi and Rozafa Celaj who were also a part of the cast of Zeqiraj’s feature debut Aga’s House, shown recently in the East of West section at Karlovy Vary.

Speaking of which, even the connection between the two films is obvious, Aga’s House is not a feature-length development of Fence, it is more the case of another way around: Fence seems like a bit like a concentrated training sequence taken out from the feature, but it works perfectly fine on its own. A number of awards, including the three independent qualifications for the Academy Award consideration are enough to prove it.

Original Title: Gardhi
Countries: Kosovo, Croatia, France
Language: Albanian
Running Time: 15′
Written/ Directed by: Lendita Zeqiraj
Production companies: n’Art, Woof Films, Sacrebleu Productions
Producers: Ron Dyens, Bujar Kabashi
Cinematographer: Sébastien Goepfert
Production Design: Lendita Zeqiraj
Art Director: Bujar Kabashi
Editor: One Single shot, No Editing
Colourist: Brice Pancot
Cast: Arti Lokaj, Rozafa Çelaj, Ilire Vinca, Adriana Matoshi, Timur Urçan, Melihate Qena, Xhejlane Godanci, Kumrije Hoxha, Alketa Sylaj, Edita Dula, Arta Selimi