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Payback, it is sometimes said indelicately, can be a bitch. Jennifer Baichal’s new documentary Payback, opening this Friday, May 18 at Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas (and most definitely not to be confused with the 1999 Mel Gibson thriller of the same name), takes a more contemplative approach to the term: payback, it turns out, can also be a restorative in the right hands.
Inspired by Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s book “Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth”, the film takes a decidedly broad approach to its topic. Traveling around the world, Baichal examines the interrelatedness of payback, debt, reparations, and revenge, with especial attention paid to debts of the non-monetary variety.
The film begins in Albania, where the question emerges — how do you keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen Tirana? The not so obvious answer is to invoke Kanun, an ancient, quasi-legal code of honor developed hundreds of years ago. Kanun still holds sway in the remote regions of northern Albania, where farmer Llesh Prenaga has been under virtual house arrest for the last three years. … Continue reading »