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Besa: The Promise

Directed by Rachel Goslins

USA | 90 minutes | 2012

Besa: The Promise weaves Albania’s heroism in WWII through the vérité journeys of two men. One is Norman Gershman, a renowned Jewish-American photographer determined to document first-person accounts of the Albanian Muslims who rescued Jews during the Holocaust. The other is Rexhep Hoxha, a Muslim-Albanian. Rexhep must fulfill the promise made to a Jewish family his father rescued during the Holocaust and return to them a set of Hebrew books they left behind. And Rexhep’s promise is more than words — it’s part of his besa — an honor code that, among other things, pledges all Albanians to offer safe harbor to refugees. With Norman’s help, Rexhep embarks on a journey to Bulgaria and Israel. His quest brings about an epiphany that he is part of this Jewish family — even as his Islamic faith, long suppressed under decades of communism, is affirmed. Through the stories of Rexhep and his fellow Muslims, we discover a nation of everyday heroes far removed from the narrative of violent Islam and anti-Semitism that’s so often portrayed in media today. And, through the experiences of Norman Gershman and the first-person accounts of Jewish survivors, we hear stories of gratitude to Muslim rescuers that have gone unheard for almost seventy years. More than seven years in the making, Besa: The Promise presents a powerful human drama compounded by a devastating twist. It is a story that bridges generations and religions, uniting fathers and sons, Muslims and Jews.
Director Rachel Goslins
Countries of Production USA
Year of Presentation 2012
Language(s)
Premiere Status
Runtime 90 minutes
Principal Cast Norman Gershman, Rexhep Hoxha
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