“The Marriage” – husband, wife…and ex-lover
Kosovo’s Official Oscar Entry, THE MARRIAGE, is about a couple approaching the happiest day of their lives, as the husband to be is still in love with his best friend (played by one of Kosovo’s most prominent musician, Genc Salihu).
Their wedding in only two weeks, Anita and Bekim are adding the final touches to their big day. Despite expecting news of Anita’s parents, declared missing since the 1999 Kosovar War, and with Bekim’s controlling family adding pressure, the couple seems to manage somehow with the preparations. But when Bekim’s secret gay ex-lover, Nol, returns from abroad unexpectedly, the situation becomes complicated, especially when Bekim realizes that Nol is still in love with him. Inevitably, the wedding banquet becomes loaded with tension when the unusual love triangle starts to unravel.
This movie is worthwhile seeing even if just for that fact that the director chose to focus on the theme of unconventional love in a country that’s just recently started to emerge from the more close-minded Eastern ideologies. It should be noted that Kosovo has also become one of the more progressive of the former Yugoslavian states, and has already held two Pride festivals in the capital of Pristina.
What begins as a straight male-female storyline of love, eventually develops into a same-sex story of love. Unbeknown to Anita, her husband to be, Bekim, has had past relationships with men. In fact, his attraction to men is much stronger than that to women, although as with often the case in certain situations, he feels he has to suppress those feelings to fit into the societal and family perception of norms. When his former lover, Nol, returns from Paris unexpectedly, the two end up in bed together again. With the wedding quickly imposing, Bekim is torn once again as to what to do. Nol ends up sticking around, getting chummy with Anita, and even shows up on their wedding day. The wedding does happen, and Bekim still wants to continue his fling with Nol, but Nol wants no part of being a piece on the side, for lack of a better term. The pair ends up saying their goodbyes at the airport, and this is where the story ends…or does it?
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DIRECTOR BLERTA ZEQUIRI’S NOTE
After the end of the war, when I gained basic liberties that I didn’t have throughout my childhood, I started to become aware and think more about marginalized groups in our society, who are denied the basic rights each human being should be entitled to. One of these groups is the LGBT community, who without a question is the most marginalized of all. LGBT community members, although protected by the Kosovo laws, are continuously threatened, humiliated and physically attacked, to which the state turns a blind eye.
Hiding their identity remains the only way to survive in this surrounding, forcing a large number of LGBT people to marry eventually a partner of an opposite sex, who inadvertently turns into collateral damage. In our film, this partner is a woman, already marginalized and without a voice in our patriarchal society. For me, it is unacceptable and at the same time incomprehensible to see two people who love each other so much, yet unable to be together. This is why I think same-sex love in Kosovo is today’s Romeo and Juliette story.
I wanted to make a hyper-realistic film, where characters actions are followed closely by a hand-held camera, and show the beauty of the love between two human beings, regardless of their gender or their sexual orientation. I wanted, at least for a moment, to make the audience leave the three main characters’ gender aside and feel for them in this complicated triangle, where no decision is without a victim or suffering.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.