The Balkan condiment ajvar is made of roasted, pureed red peppers. It is the sticky centre of Kosovan writer-director Blerta Basholli’s feminist drama, based on a true story, about an enterprising single mother in the strictly patriarchal village of Krushë e Madhe whose decision to start her own ajvar business has everyone talking.
Basholli’s agile handheld camera aligns itself with the steely Fahrije (Yllka Gashi), hovering close by as she anticipates her husband’s return from the Kosovan war. “If he ever comes back, he will understand,” she tells her naysayers. Deep down, she knows that the chances of his homecoming are heartbreakingly slim. Disapproving men throw stones at her car, but the local women, who also await their missing men, rally around (the straight-talking Nazmije, played by Kumrije Hoxha, is a particular highlight). Soon, Fahrije’s home becomes a hub or, rather, a hive, buzzing with joy, connection and purpose. Basholli understands that healing is possible, even if closure isn’t.