How far are you willing to go for family? Albanian writer and director Erenik Beqiri explores this question and much more in his heartbreaking short, “The Van”, which premiered in 2019 at the Cannes Film festival. It’s a generational tug-of-war between father and son, in this beautifully shot short family drama, as two headstrong Albanian men seperated by generation and ideals try to search for a better future. Ben (Phénix Brossard) will stop at nothing to get he and his father out of Albania as he fights his way to a ticket to England. That includes participating in illegal boxing matches in a moving van, where only one winner can make it out alive. Meanwhile his father (Arben Bajraktaraj), a widowed construction worker, refuses to leave his dreams of making it in the construction business and Albania behind.
Beqiri utilizes sharp and succinct dialogue and intimate visuals. It’s shot so tightly that it feels like Ben will never escape. Ben’s psychological trauma requires no dialogue in its depiction, we see it in his face. We follow every bruise and wound and we feel every blow.
Verdict: 4 out of 5
In the end, “The Van” is a stunning short film that explores the complex depths of the love between a father and son and how far both are willing to go for the other. Beqiri creates an authentic and gripping tale that navigates family and freedom at the cost of both.