By: Ermira Babamusta/
New York City is known for its nicknames “Big Apple”, “City that Never Sleeps” and “ Center of Universe ”. In the middle of it all, Albanian Film Week, a wonderful cultural event and the first festival of its kind for the Albanian film industry in America .
Organizer Mrika Krasniqi (Nil Productions) started Albanian Film Week in 2012 with the goal of showcasing the best of Albanian cinema to New York . AFW presents the city with a diversity of Albanian cinematic creation from around the world to raise the profile of its talents, culture and film industry. The AFW Artistic Board and team includes: Mrika Krasniqi ( New York ), Robert Budina ( Albania ), Ilir Kabashi (Kosova), Vlora Qosja ( California ), Ben Fejza ( Macedonia ), Bajram Shala (Kosova) and Egzon Bunjaku (Kosova).
“Our mission is to transform the way people see Albanian culture through film. Our vision is to promote cultural understanding and encourage artistic development and growth,” said Mrika Krasniqi, director of Albanian Film Week, filmmaker and screenwriter. Each year AFW presents Red Carpet screenings of feature, short and documentary films, followed by Q&A, workshops, reception with artists and organizers, VIP afterparty and Award Night Gala.
Albanian Film Week is the first Albanian film festival in United States , established in 2012 and it takes place in New York in November. AFW plays a major role in introducing Albanian film to American audiences. Films in the first year included 100 films to commemorate the centennial of the independence of Albania .
The program of the AFW shows about 30 films per year, including feature, short and documentary films. The finalists are selected from works of Albanian filmmakers from around the world. Beginning in 2013, AFW expanded its program to include presentations of AFW Albanian Classics (Programi Bardh e Zi), to show restored films and Albanian classics.
Albanian Film Week program features domestic, international and USA premiers. The 2013 lineup included works from Albania , Kosovo , Macedonia , London , USA and Canada . The festival was graced with special guests, including award-winning filmmakers and artists to debuting film directors, producers and actors. Award-winning director Robert Budina introduced his film “Agon” ( Albania ’s Academy Award 2014 selection) at the Opening Ceremony held at the prestigious SVA Theatre, followed by a Q-and-A session after the screening.
“It was a memorable experience to screen Agon at AFW last year in New York . I appreciate the warm reception the movie had, as well as the open debate with positive and constructive criticism that followed afterwards. I was very pleased to receive the invitation from Mrika Krasniqi to join the Artistic Board and I gladly accepted. It shows the great interest of Albanians in America in the film industry of Albania . The AFW committee wants to review and recognize those films that meet the criteria and show excellence, great storytelling and interesting work,” said director, producer, writer Robert Budina.
AFW vision includes serving as a catalyst for community building and inspiring community engagement through thought-provoking films and open forum discussions with invited guests. The debate focuses on Albanian cinematography, its influence in the world and the future of the film industry.
“Albanian Film Week is one of the most important festivals for the Albanian community. It serves as a bridge in building new networks among Albanians around the world and the global film community. As a producer in Macedonia I am privileged to be a member of the AFW Artistic Board. I think this year we will have a very interesting competition that will showcase the high quality and standards of Albanian filmmakers,” said producer Arben Fejzullai, member of the Artistic Board of Albanian Film Week.
AFW screens most of its films at Producers Club Theatres, owned by two Albanian brothers, Alfred and Ernest Tollja. PC Theatres is a “five theatre, two studio complex with a bar and lounge right in the heart of NYC’s Theatre District, just steps away from Times Square ” (www.producersclub.com). Other venues in past events have included Tribeca Cinemas, Bronxnet Studios in Lehman College and SVA Theatres. The popular AFW screening events have been an outstanding success, attracting the interest of local and foreign media, sponsors and the filmmaking community.
To submit your movie, filmmakers can visit www.albanianfilmweek.net to apply by August 30, 2014 or www.facebook.com/albanianfilmweek2014 for further information. Sponsors can contact AFW director Mrika Krasniqi at email@example.com or by phone: + (1) 347.237.7882 ( USA ) or + 377. 44 347 318 (EU).
On the final night of the festival AFW will announce the finalists by giving away 10 prizes: best feature film, best short film, best documentary film, best actor, best actress, best music, best camera, best screenplay, production award and public award. Last year, special guest Ambassador Bekim Sejdiu presented the awards at the Awards Night Gala held at PC Theatres in New York . “Right to Love”, directed by Paul Kurti and written by Amina Zhaman won Best Feature Film Award. Actress Pavlina Mani won Lifetime achievement Award. Other winners included: “Last Confession” directed by Ibrahim Deari, winner of Best Short Film and “The Price of Being a Woman” directed by Ilir Kabashi, winner of Best Documentary.
By: Ermira Babamusta/