Christos Netsos was born in southern Albania and raised in Athens, Greece. He holds a BA from the Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, and an MA from the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne, where he shot two acclaimed short films. His films were supported by the Greek Film Center as well as the Filmstiftung NRW in Germany. Christos explores how ethics, as well as physical and mental resistance can be expressed through images. He is now preparing his first feature film Dajna which received a scholarship from the Robert Bosch Stiftung, participated at the Crossroads Co-Production forum in Thessaloniki, as well as the L.A. Greek Film Festival IPDF forum.
Winter in northern Albania. Dajna (19) unexpectedly tells her mother, she slept with a stranger she will never see again. Within a customary society, her action could expose her family to tragic consequences. In fear of her endeavors’ spreading out and overwhelmed by a sense of despair, her father assigns his nephew Bledi (35) to immediately take her away. The two of them engage in a journey across the Albanian Alps. Still covered in snow, the mountains conceal a power that dwarfs the two drifters. Very soon the journey becomes a statement of threat and isolation. With every step deeper in the mountains, the danger of
being trapped grows and so does Dajnas fear of Bledi. She tries to prevent his violence, realizing the mountains can hide the traces of his wrath. But despite the opportunity the wilderness offers him, Bledi becomes aware of his own incapacity to kill Dajna. Sensing this, Dajna decides to change course. She won’t continue this journey to uncertainty. On arriving in Tirana Bledi plans to assist her in the beginning of her life there. In the process however, he finds out that Dajna made the whole story up, she lied to all of them. What
happened between them on the mountains now falls as a burden of guilt. What remains for Bledi is one last encounter, where he discovers how convinced Dajna is of her decisions.
After the fall of the Hoxha regime in the early nineties in Albania, the whole country collapsed instantly. The radical changes in the political establishment caused chaos, destroyed the industry – leading most into poverty – but mostly the identity of the whole nation was heavily blemished. In order to constrain it, some reached out to older social systems. Patriarchal and fundamentalist structures were reintroduced in a time where social awareness was non-existent, as everyone fought for survival after the defeat of the “workers’ state”.
Unfortunately, the returning dominance of traditional law in certain regions imposed such a frame wherein the loss of identity became a crucial matter. Depicted through an enforced social prism, due to the terrible social and economic situation, the most obvious degradation of social values was expressed in the face of women. In such an environment, the women, being vulnerable, were easy to victimise and forced to exist under the agitation of those who would interpret their every uncommon behaviour, either as a misconduct, or as a social and cultural insult.
The lack of understanding serves as a byproduct of suspicion in every aspect. Having lost so much within such a short period, you become vigilant and aggressive in an attempt to be pre-cautious. As a result the present of this once rigorously locked country of the “Ostblock” tragically reflects the still open wounds of its history on the faces of its citizens. Those wounds are the historical memory they avoid, fearing the conflicts it could once again provoke. They wander to a future without experiences, as Bunkers on the mountains rotting under the dirt of time.
In the core of the story stands a young woman, Dajna, who confronts the
prospect of a change. For that, she thinks of a radical hypothesis in order to challenge the potential of it. Knowing that if a problem is left to expand in time, it can become violent, and she exposes the deepest fears and pains of her environment before an autarchic structure evolves like a spiderweb around them. Almost in immediate contradiction, she tries to save what integrity is left of her family.
Dajna’s psychology, as well as that of the rest of the characters is reflected throughout the lack of dialogue in every aspect. Northern Albanians are scarce in their words. This element by itself defines this story. I mostly want to focus the observation on their actions and interactions with space, with their secrets and, eventually, with their lack of courage, to express the substantial problem – the
inadequacy. Although the tone of the story is realistic, I would like to create a space/frame that does not allow the characters to hide.