Directed by Rachel Goslins
Edited by Christine S. Romero. Cinematography by Neil Barrett.
USA, 2012. Albanian and English with English subtitles. 86mins.
Co-Sponsored by Craig Harrison's Expressions of Excellence!
1939. War looms on the horizon. Many German Jews were looking for refuge from the desperate situation at home. While the rest of Europe turned its back, Albania offered unconditional asylum. King Zog announced that all Jews residing in Albania could obtain citizenship. That year, fascist troops invaded, sending the king into exile and putting the Jews in jeopardy. In response Albanian families, most of them Muslim, gave their sacred oath, the ancient besa, to protect the refugees. In 2002, Norman Gershman journeyed to Albania to photograph the families who rescued Jews. There he met Rexhep Hoxha, the son of a pastry chef who had hidden a family of Bulgarian Jews, the Aladjems, in his home. The refugees had been forced to leave behind their sacred prayer books, and Hoxha's father pledged to keep them till the Aladjems could someday return to Albania. Bringing the circle to a close, Gershman helps Hoxha go to Israel, allowing him to fulfill the 66-year-old promise to the Jewish family he sheltered. Besa: The Promise is a powerful look at a historic example of basic human solidarity. Featuring music by Philip Glass.
Preceded by 55 Socks
Directed by Co Hoedeman
Canada, 2011. In English. 9mins.
In the closing months of World War II in occupied Holland, some women unravel a beautiful bedspread in order to knit 55 socks to barter for food in this poetic silhouette-animated short.