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Dritan Huqi • On Film Production

Producers on the Move 2012 - Albania

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Dritan Huqi • On Film Production

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Albanian producer Dritan Huqi served as an executive producer on films such as Saimir Kumbaro’s Lenin and Us, Artan Minarolli’s Alive and Goran Paskaljević’s Honeymooners [+leggi anche:
trailer
scheda film
]
and was the Albanian co-producer of Johannes Naber’s The Albanian [+leggi anche:
recensione
trailer
intervista: Nik Xhelilaj - Albania
scheda film
]
which premiered at this year’s Berlinale. He is currently working on two co-productions: Gjergi Xhuvani’s Love and the Rags of Time and Macedonian director Antonio Mitrikeski’s Children of the Winter Sun.

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Cineuropa: The European film industry doesn’t know much about Albanian cinema. Can you tell us a little about its current state?
Dritan Huqi: Albanian cinema has a tradition of important and artistically valuable films, but the country’s perennial isolation and lack of communication has prevented it from being properly presented to the world. Only during the last 15 years has Albanian cinema been a part of the international film market – films such as Gjergi Xhuvani’s Slogans and Dear Enemy, Fatmir Koçi’s Tirana Year Zero, Buyar Alimani’s Amnesty got onto the festival circuit and played in Cannes, Venice, Tokyo, Karlovy Vary, Moscow, Toronto, thus introducing Albania to the world film market. We are a part of the European film structure, in decision-making and funds-management processes. But it’s still a small industry, and we are only taking the first steps towards a real production and distribution system.

There is a network of small but quality cinemas (ten in the capital, Tirana), and piracy is a major problem. Hollywood product is dominant, not only because of the publicity, but also because Albanian distributors really lack contact with European film distribution. Moreover, Albanian industry has failed to recognize regional cinema – the only way of communication is through festivals, and to some extent through television.

Tell us something about the project Love and the Rags of Time.
The story takes place from before the Kosovo war to today. It’s about a labyrinth of emotions between two friendly families, Kosovo and Serbian. Two children from the two families have been very close ever since birth, but the ethnic war crushes their love. Both will remain loyal to their memories, their dreams and their pains. Central to this movie is a biblical message that people love each other even when times turn them towards hate.

It’s a co-production that currently includes my company On Film Production and Italy’s Fast Rewind, and will be shot in 2012 in Albania, Kosovo, Italy and Switzerland with a budget of around €2.5 million.

Co-productions are currently the most frequent in the Balkans. How useful are they for Albanian producers and, also, what does the membership in Eurimages bring to them?
Co-production in Europe today are not a choice but a necessity. In fact, they are the best option for Albania, where the average budget of a film is €300,000, enabling producers to participate in projects that cost five times more – such films become a part of the Albanian cultural heritage. The system of co-production is the best way to combine artistic and professional values, and creates opportunities for a film to be a part of the global distribution network.

Albania mainly co-produces with the countries of the region, which is the best way to utilize the crews and talent. But there is a growing number of co-productions with German, US and Canadian companies on films with subject matter that is in one way or another connected to Albania.

Eurimages is a good opportunity not only financially, but also as a system that strengthens co-productions between different countries.

What do you expect and hope for at Producers on the Move?
A chance to discuss and communicate with other participating producers about ongoing projects, and an opportunity to continue the relationship in future.

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