• Two highly anticipated late competition entries in this year’s Berlin Film Festival which wrapped up yesterday scooped up awards at Saturday’s award ceremony. American director Joshua Marston’s “The Forgiveness of Blood,” an Albanian-language dramatic thriller nabbed the Silver Bear for best screenplay. Andres Veiel’s feature film debut “Wer Wenn Nicht Wir” (“If Not Us, Who”), a German production about the origins of the West German terrorist organization The Red Army Faction, was awarded the Alfred Bauer prize –named for the festival founder—for unique contribution to the art of cinema. In the opinion of this critic, both prizes were undeserved.

    Marston, whose only previous feature “Maria Full of Grace” was a critical favorite (and Berlinale competition entry) in 2004, wrote the screenplay to “Forgiveness” with Andamion Murataj, based on hundreds of interviews with ordinary Albanians for this story of familial loyalty, honor and retribution. The plot centers on Nik, a teenager in northern Albania who dreams of starting an Internet café and winning over the prettiest girl in school. These modest ambitions are dashed when his father becomes embroiled in a land dispute that culminates in a murder. Suddenly, it falls to Nik to protect his family and uphold their honor.