Interviewed By Nora Kalaja /
When was your debut as a film director? Can you tell us more about your debut film?
Berat Asani: The first artistic film I made as a director, is the film “Follower”, which has been made on my studying period at the academy of arts during my first year of study. I consider it as the first film, since in this film I had the opportunity to work with a formed team of colleagues where for most of them it was also the debut film. The strength, sincerity and desire for work were great for each of them. It was the first time I tried myself in front of the audience and the emotions and reactions of the viewers made me fall in love with this profession and increased my desire to create more films that would create feelings and experience for a wider audience.
What is your recent film “Mother’s Love” about?
Berat Asani: My latest movie “Mother’s Love” is about Besiana’s life which is plunged into turmoil after she discovers her son’s Bardh dark secrets, and faces a dilemma that will challenge her love and decision as a mother.
This film was realized in 2018 as a school project which was realized during my master studies at the Film Institute Ohrid Film Academy. To write this film I collaborated with another screenwriter like co-writer Cathal McCall and it is worth to mention that the film was made by an international team, as was the academy itself. I also had the great support of professional actors from Kosovo, such as as Ilire Vinca, Andi Bajgora, Anisa Ismaili and Sara Osmani, which was her debut in an art film. This film has been selected at the film festival in LA and I hope that that the festival journey continues after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tell us a bit about the other films you’ve made.
Berat Asani: In terms of other films I made as a Director, I would like to mention “Oops” and “The Unknown”, which have been successful at various international festivals. I had the opportunity to learn many things during pre and post production.
“The Unknown” is the film with which I graduated from the University of Tetova at the Faculty of Arts as a Director with a degree in Film and TV. This film is about a young girl who falls in love with her neighbour who lives in the apartment in front of her building. She follows him through a small hand-held camera. Her family wants her to marry another boy. Everything changes after the girl ends up in the neighbour’s apartment, while her mother watches her from the small camera, where she disturbs this family’s world.
Where as with the “Oops” film I completed the first academic year for my master’s degree in FIOFA. Here I had a different experience, because it was my first film where I did not participate in the process of writing the screenplay. The screenplay was written by screenwriter Blagica Sekuloska. I made the film in Macedonian with a cast of Macedonian actors, and the work process was very special.
“Oops” is about Nikola who is a little genius that makes experiments around home. In New Year’s Eve he learns that his parents are again going to celebrate New Year at another place, and will not be at home. Nikola feels like he must do everything to make them stay with him at home.
As a Producer, how involved in the writing of a project do you get? Are you more involved in the initial development?
Berat Asani: So far I have not been a screenwriter for someone else’s project even though I would have liked to. As a director I have a lot of respect for screenwriters. In small countries, it often happens that Producers are included in the scenario due to limited conditions and opportunities for the realization of the project.
Can you tell us about your involvement with the Tetova International Film Festival?
Berat Asani: During the time when I decided to get acquainted with film and I was looking for the academy of arts, with a group of friends we heard that a film festival was being held in Tetovo. There we got in touch with the founder of the festival, where we were informed in more details. I expressed interest to contribute to the organizational participation in voluntary form in the first edition. Then every year I had the great desire to contribute and challenge myself in all the functions of the organizational and executive form of the festival until the board made a decision that I should be in charge of the chairman of the festival in the 7th edition (of which I continue until now). I am committed to growing the festival each year, along with contributing to cultural growth and creating a tradition for our city.
What do you have planned for this year for the festival?
Berat Asani: Initially, the festival has its journey and this year we are very happy to realize the 10th (jubilee) edition. Therefore, it is a more special edition, I would not have wanted to say anything about the planning, but I wish that this edition finds better opportunities to bring back to more massive numbers of audience in cinemas and less to be involved in hybrid form or online. Soon we will open the application where filmmakers will have the opportunity to apply with their films.
What do you consider as your career accomplishments?
Berat Asani: As a career achievement so far I would have considered the success of the festival, for which achievement are enjoyed by many other members. As a filmmaker, I think the latest film “Mother’s Love” was the best film in my opinion, but I think it takes a lot of work to declare success as an Author.
How do you see your role as a filmmaker?
Berat Asani: My role as a filmmaker is to make as many feature films as possible. I feel the necessity to tell a story, a need which is present in all human beings, but the desire to tell it in visual form is my gift and chosen way where this makes the difference. We are often in situations where through the film we want to change a perception or give a message to the audience, where often there are generalized messages or experiences which are shared and re-experienced in that certain duration to achieve a conscious awareness, uplift and culture in a higher mass.
Therefore, I am often not sure if I will ever be able to change the world through film, but that film will change me is more than certain.
Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? What message do you want to convey with your films?
Berat Asani: Undoubtedly filmmakers have a lot of responsibility for culture, as film is a very powerful tool to present ideologies, events, moral and social norms to a wide audience, which through the emotions created by the authors, achieves an impact and real experience that the audience can carry in everyday life as a personal experience. The most important part for me is the way and the feeling a film can be experienced, along with its message or the moral of the story.
What other hobbies do you have?
Berat Asani: One of my hobbies and passions is skateboarding which I have been practicing for 11 years now and also since we are lucky enough to have Kodra e Diellit (Sunny Hill) as a Ski Centre in Tetovo, I have also practiced Snowboarding. During the summer I do swimming and Paddle boarding. As a lifestyle hobby I practice Bodybuilding. I like hiking a lot because I like nature as a source of ideas and peace of mind.
Berat Asani: As I mentioned above about the festival we are working on the realization of this edition, I am also engaged in two short films as screenwriter and director where we plan to start soon in the production phase, being in a pandemic situation and I wish Covid-19 pandemic to get past and to enable normal functioning for everyone!