Tea time with Pa Vend [Displaced]
How did you decide on this topic and protagonist to make a film about?
I have been familiar with this story since the first years after the war of Kosovo which is sometime in 2004-2005. My close friend who is one of the main characters had returned from Germany and he started playing again as a professional player in the local ping pong club where he played before he left the country. Since then, until today this club even though it is the best ping pong club in our state and still they have not solved the issue of their permanent training space. I always thought that both protagonists would act themselves better than any actor. After a few conversations between us they agreed to be part of the film and act themselves, which I’m very grateful to them for their performance and I’m super happy for our decision.
The use of the 4:3 image ratio is really convincing. Can you tell us a bit about this aspect of your film?
In fact the format is 1:1, square format. While I was doing research and scouting of locations and after analyzing the players as they were training, I thought of using as many close ups as possible. In the first tests I decided to be as close as possible to the characters as they in the game were transformed into completely different characters and with the narrowing of the format many unnecessary things were left out of the frame and the focus remained on the characters. This in itself contains a metaphor of the lack of space and also aesthetically suited the form of the storytelling.
Pa Vend was named best short at the Toronto Film Festival. What are your future plans for the film?
The film had an extremely amazing journey, it had its premiere in Cannes and at the same time as the first Kosovar film that was in the Official Competition and there we were nominated for the European Film Academy in the Best European Short Film category. Then we won in Toronto as the Best Short Film, at the Cinemed in Montpellier we won the Grand Prix Award and many others. Recently the film was among the 5 films that were nominated for the EFA Award and also the film will be in competition in Sundance. So, we managed to compete with this film in 3 of the 5 most important festivals in the world which I think is something extraordinary.
Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?
As a short film programmer working for around 20 years at Dokufest, the documentary and short film Festival in Prizren (Kosovo), I watch hundreds of films every year and see all kind of forms and all kinds of stories. I could not single out any in particular. But watching movies has educated me as a filmmaker since I did not finish film school, but I did study photography. The knowledge and experience in photography makes my job easier since I also shoot my own films and concept the form of storytelling mainly through photography.
What’s your definition of a good film?
It has to be brave both in terms of directing or form and content.