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Producer on the Move Valon Jakupaz interview by Cineuropa
First Publication: 13/05/2013
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Valon Jakupaj is the first participant of Producers on the Move from Kosovo, which became a member of the EFP a year ago. After graduating from London΄s College of Printing in 2001, Jakupaj produced his first feature film Adventures of Santa Claus in the UK, and helped to set up the first Albanian production company, Skanderbeg Media, in 2003. In 2006 he returned to Kosovo, where he launched his own production company Gegnia Film, which has mostly made short films to date. His main work is now in rentals, producing short films for students and directing and producing music videos and TV commercials. He is currently preparing Gold, the new feature film from Albanian director Bujar Alimani

Cineuropa: Bujar Alimani’s previous film Amnesty played in Berlinale’s Forum in 2011. Tell us more about Gold

Valon Jakupaj: Gold is about a young mother of two boys who is forced to sleep with a relative of her husband for food and other neccessities that her family needs. When Andi and Gimi find out that their mother is having an affair they are shocked and Andi, being the oldest son and an excellent student at school ,decides to start working in a coal mine outside the vilage in order to earn money so his mother can stop sleeping with the cousin.

The relationship between mother and son is the core of the script for Gold, which was also written by Alimani. The idea of keeping the family together, coming into ‘power’ and the destruction of someone else, the chaos of the human soul and being abandoned are the main themes of the film.

It is a co-production between Gegnia Film, Alimani Film from Albania, Arizona Films from France, and Fantasia Ltd. from Greece. The film will be shot in Albania, maybe edited in Kosovo, picture will be processed in France, and audio post-production will be done in Greece. Our plans is to start production in September or October. 

The current cast includes Luli Bitri and Mirela Naska, who also played in Amnesty, and Kasem Hoxha [last seen in Til Schweiger’s Shutzengel]. The two boys will be cast in Kosovo.

Cineuropa: How do you see the current situation with production and distribution in Kosovo?

Valon Jakupaj: Sadly to say, the film industry and distribution is very bad at the moment. There’s a simple reason for that – the government is not investing in the theatrical network. Back in the time of former Yugoslavia, we used to have 36 cinemas in Kosovo, and now there are only two. The third one is the Prishtine National Theater, which is used as a cinema during PriFest and 9/11 Dedication Festivals.

Luckily, festivals such as Dokufest, SkenaUp, 9/11 Dedication Festival and lately PriFest have helped to promote and distribute our work to the international market. 

Since Fatos Berisha became the director of the Kosova Cinematography Centre, things have taken a positive turn in terms of promoting film industry. Along with the members of the board, which is lead by Arben Zharku, they are trying the hardest to promote us, the younger generation of filmmakers, by dividing the budget rationally sometimes to more than four projects per competition.
They are encouraging us to look for co-productions with other countries as well, which is something new for us because this way we are making new contacts and, consequently, making better film. The last three short films made in Kosovo were co-produced with Croatia, Denmark and France, so things are starting to move forward.

Cineuropa: What do you expect of Producers on the Move in Cannes?

Valon Jakupaj: Of course, to make new contacts and business acquaintances, and I am really looking forward to see if any of the other participants will be interested in perhaps joining us as a co-producer on Gold

By Vladan Petkovic

Source Cineuropa
  Bujar Alimani
  Kasem Hoxha
  Luli Bitri
  Mirela Naska
  Valon Jakupaj
  Fantasia Audiovisual Ltd
  Kosovo Film Center
  Gegnia Film
  Seven Balkan producers selected for Producers on the Move networking platform
  Producer on the Move Giorgos Karnavas interviewed by Cineuropa
  Producer on the Move Anca Puiu interviewed by Cineuropa
  Producers on the move Book
  European Film Promotion
  altcine Explore movies by Country People To read
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