FNE at KVIFF 2010 East of the West: The Albanian

By Pavlina Jeleva

Johannes Naber, one of the scriptwriters of Philipp Stölzl's North Face (2008) and director of several documentaries and TV shorts, makes his feature directing debut with The Albanian, the story of an illegal immigrant living in Germany. Naber, who studied philosophy and philology in Berlin and documentary directing in Ludwigsburg, worked in TV productions as gaffer and developed a serious interest in illegal immigration in Germany.

Naber recalls the first time he went to Albania with a "minibus and a video camera" was in 2001, when he started to develop a fictional story "based on what might be the research for a documentary." He chose Albania because of "its European location and the need to change the prejudices about a country with special history." Naber was convinced that "Albania needs a chance in Europe, and therefore we need to overcome a heap of clichés!"

The center of the €1.2 million German-Albanian co-production became young Arden who wants to marry his beloved Etleva, but does not have the money for the old traditions expected of him. Dreaming of earning it before his girlfriend gives birth to their child he joins the nearly one million illegal immigrants in Germany.

The project found important supporters. Boris Schönfelder from "Neue Schönhauser Filmproduktion" contributed €585,000, giving a 61.78 % participation to SWR (www.swr.de) / Arte (www.arte.tv). Another €170,000 (17.94 %) came fromMedienboard Berlin-Brandenburg (www.medienboard.de) and the €161.30 (17,03%) came from theFederal Film Fund (www.ffa.de). The Albanian co-producer Dritan Huqi from On Film Production brought €250,000support from theAlbanian National Center of Cinematography(www.nationalfilmcenter.gov.al).

The main shooting took place between September 1 and December 20, 2009, in Berlin, Tirana and the mountainous village Bayram Curri, with additional seasonal shots in Albania.

Naber, for whom the discovery of the main actor Nik Xhelilaj (Alive, Artan Minarolli, 2009) was a "lucky chance," explained that "no scene without Nik exists in the film," adding, "assisted by the script, the actor defined the character himself".

The world premiere took place on June 24, 2010 during the Moscow IFF. The Albanian received two "Silver George" awards: one for Johannes Naber (special prize of the jury) and one for Nik Xhelilaj (best actor). The new recognition of Albanian talent comes after Arta Dobroshi‘s 2008 international success in the Dardens' brothers Lorna's Silence in Cannes.

The Albanian will be distributed byKinowelt GmbH. (www.kinowelt.de)

Script: Johannes Naber, Andeta Spahivogli, Christoph Silber, Alexander Steimle

Director: Johannes Naber

Director of Photography: Sten Mende

Art Director: Ina Timmerberg

Costumes: Juliane Maier

Music: Oli Biehler

Editing: Ben von Grafenstein

Producers: Boris Schönfelder, Dritan Huqi


Arben: Nik Xhelilaj

Etleva: Xhejlane Terbunja

Slatko: Ivan Shvedoff

Ilir: Amos Zaharia

Damir: Stipe Erçeg

Arben‘s father: Çun Lajçi

Arben‘s uncle: Luan Jaha

Arben‘s mother: Fatime Lajçi

Arben‘s gradfather: Vasillaq Godo

Etleva‘s mother: Yllka Mujo

Etleva‘s father: Guljem Radoja

Sali: Bruno Shllaku

Florenç: Julian Deda

Nicola: Eva Löbau

Pharmacist: André M. Hennicke

Driver: Tomek Nowicki

Asian girl: Young-Shin Kim

Edon: Hazir Haziri

Production contact

Neue Schönhauser Filmproduktion GmbH

Producer: Boris Schoenfelder

Neue Schönhauser Str. 19,

10718 Berlin


Tel: + 49 (0)30 - 34391021

Fax: + 49 (0)30 - 52135649

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On Film Production

Co-Producer: Dritan Huqi

Sh.p.k.,Rruga e Sami Frasheri

Pall Agimi, shk 19, ap 336



Tel: + 355 42 223 830

Fax: + 355 69 20 56 175

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