If I said the word “Albanian” right now, what would be the first thing you thought of?
Wouldn’t you think of crooks and pimps?
You probably would; this stereotype has been fed by most of the European media dealing with the immigrants΄ difficult lives.
Yes, there are Albanian criminals, but still, who encourages sex trafficking? Who needs it? Where is the market for this type of merchandise?
I have been a victim of prejudices like these for quite a long time, when i used to be an Albanian immigrant myself, in Italy. With permit of stay still valid, I decided to leave Italy and go back to my country. As I was crossing the border, the, the last Italian police officer who checked my papers asked me why I hadn΄t kept the permit of stay, in order to sell it. I told him that wouldn΄t be legal. He said: “Look... an Albanian who obeys the law!” This is the kind of prejudice I΄ve had to endure, and I should add that Albanians, with what they have done, may have even justified it sometimes.
Now I΄ d like to show how this culture clash happens; and how Albanian society deals with the phenomenon. I concetrated all the conflict within one family; a good, closed-knit ethical family; two brothers, of whom one tries to make a living honestly, and the other not so honestly, as is the case with Saimir and Vini. These two brothers used to be very close, and, within their family, care for one another has always been a primary value, if not an asphyxiating imperative. This is the reason Saimir cares for his young brother Vini, as well as for the new family he is building with Elektra, his Greek fiancee.
I concentrated all these contradictions within a family living abroad, for the simple fact that I wanted to show the diversity between two cultures and traditions.
As in the case of Saimir and Elektra, who try to build a life together; their conflict with Elektra΄ s father Nikos, and the arrival of uncle΄ s family to the apartment, which serves to highlight how difficult it is for people to live TOGETHER, when they let prejudice control their behavior and damage their purest feelings.
Once he gets over the inebriation from easy money, Vini discovers the harsh realities of the illegal trafficking of prostitutes. He also meets Majlinda and finds love.
Love makes him more mature and responsible, gives him strength and blurs his reason, and eventually makes him grateful for Saimir and respect him even more.
There is a thin line between love and hate, crime for love΄s sake and criminality. This division is almost impossible to see... and can disappear because of a fateful meeting or just serendipity.
What would be the difference between an Albanian gangster, and an Italian or a Russian one? An Albanian would be more unpredictable. We see this feature embodied in Keno. He first takes Vini under his wing because he sees himself in the young man; but he is also capable of killing him promptly, if he feels betrayed or insulted.
This is no immigrants΄ story, but a story about people΄s efforts to integrate. This is no story about crime and mafia, but a story about impossible love. I have met all the characters of my drama, in other circumstances.
Today i have an opportunity to recreate them, in order to build a story with them and express, through this story, the complexity of human feelings.