- Narrative Feature / Festival Award Winner / Kosovo, Germany
- Director: Isa Qosja
- Writer: Zymber Kelmendi
This review is part of my coverage of 2015’s Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis. Click here for more of my coverage of the festival. You can find my coverage of other Indianapolis area film and TV events here.
Isa Qosja‘s Three Windows and a Hanging is an emotionally jarring look into the patriarchal society of a Kosovo village rebuilding after war ravaged their community and its people. When school teacher Lushe tells a reporter that she and three other women from the village were raped by Serbian troops, the male villagers react.
Three Windows and a Hanging doesn’t shy away from the despicable mindset of the characters in positions of power within the village. The president of the village, Uka, is a horrendous creature who views Lushe speaking to a newspaper reporter as shaming the entire village. It’s not long before he and other prominent men in the village ostracize her from the community. It’s a sadly impactful depiction of what is a persistent issue in Kosovo and around the globe.
The film isn’t about the rape itself, nor is it about the identity of the women Lushe mentions in the newspaper article. It’s about the fallout of speaking about rape in a society ruled by men with no conscience. Men in the village question their wives and Lushe about the allegations but it doesn’t come from a place of compassion or worry for the women’s well-being. It’s solely in service of the men’s fragile dignity and the concern that their wives are damaged. It’s a disgusting reality that the film relentlessly hammers into the viewer.
Amidst the heartbreak of Lushe’s shunning from the village, the movie is also a strong profile of its central antagonist, Uka. In addition to his disgusting handling of Lushe’s article, he also has equally misogynist subplots involving his wife and daughter. Through these subplots, he becomes a three dimensional monster that embodies the misogynistic and victim blaming mentality that Three Windows and a Hanging is based around. He’s a horrendous person and the film does well to showcase this in a thorough manner.
Three Windows and a Hanging is powerful as it weaves a painful story about misogyny. There are tragic turns throughout the film that carry weight with them and inform the greater narrative well. The film is bookended by elderly men talking in the shade of a tree about the village and tradition in a way that underscores the themes of the movie. The viewer is left with a lot to consider about the dark side of tradition and society in a culture that may not be familiar to him or her.