Review Fix chats with Erblin Nushi, who discusses the origin behind his new film, “Bini.”
About the Film:
Erblin Nushi’s heart wrenching story Bini shares the story of a young boy whose family is sent to a refugee camp during the 1999 Kosovar War, this film is based on the true story of the director, who lived this nightmare himself as a child. This gripping tale is one out of only eight finalists at the Student Academy Awards and Erblin is the only undergraduate amongst all the finalists.
A young boy, thrust into the horrors of war, clings to a piece of candy as he and his family are forced to become refugees.
Review Fix: How was this film born?
Erblin Nushi: This film was born on my senior year at George Mason University. I attended the Film and Video Studies program as an undergrad, and every student in the directing concentration has to make a thesis film. I always wanted to tell this story, but my professors and my mentor/producer Lisa Thrasher pushed me to tell this story now because it was so timely and personal.
Review Fix: How has it changed from initial concept?
Nushi: Of course, as a director everything that plays out in our head and that we put on paper will almost never come out the same way in reality. I was a student and my budget was very limited therefore the execution of it restricted me to what I ended up filming. Even though the scale of the production is not as big as it was written, the story is still there and i’m very proud with the film that I have now.
Review Fix: What are you most proud of when it comes to this film?
Nushi: So far, the response I got from Kosovo and Albanians around the world. For those that have seen it and reached out to say thank you and how the film has touched them. They are thankful that their story is being told because this isn’t just my story, it’s all of us that were and are affected by war.
Review Fix: What helped inspire it?
Nushi: The refugee crisis from the past few years and seeing those separated children in the headlines was a huge inspiration to tell my story. I grew up watching a lot of films and I was definitely influenced by American storytelling and how big of an impact it has around the world. I was fascinated with its power to reach people, relay a message and change their lives. Every time I meet someone I am shocked to find out that people still don’t know that Kosovo exists and let alone know about the Kosovo war. Putting this out there to make my home country known and give the people a voice was a big part of it.
Review Fix: What was the feeling like on set?
Nushi: My entire crew and I had a really good time on set because of the importance of this story. Everyone was excited for this project, but by day three of shooting some of the difficult scenes, I started feeling moments from the past. The flashbacks were coming back and it hit me that I truly lived through this horrible experience. Neighbors from the homes close to set would come out in worry because when they saw the actors dressed in uniforms it reminded them of those awful days.
Review Fix: What stands out the most about your cast?
Nushi: Besides working with the most talented actors I have ever worked with, I was lucky to have two well known Kosovo actors Armond Morina and Eshref Durmishi from the previous Oscar Nominated film “Shok.” This was all due to my sister, Fjolla Nushi having a career in Kosovo as an actress and who put me in touch with them. The special part was that my sister portrayed my mother in the film. She was there in that refugee truck with me when she was only twelve years old and her and I were the closest to relate to this specific event that is presented in the film. This collaboration was special because this time we were in it to tell our story in the hopes to help someone else out there.
Review Fix: What makes this film special?
Nushi: Authenticity and its honesty. It’s my story and I told it based on how I remember it. It’s from the perspective of a child. The film does not make any huge political statements, but it rather focuses on children and the way they are affected by war. My life was never the same after the war, and us children are the ones that got and continue to get affected the most.
Review Fix: Who will enjoy it the most?
Nushi: The ones that can relate or anyhow affected by similar event whether it’s personally or someone close that they know.
Review Fix: Why is the subject matter of this film important?
Nushi: In today’s world, wars are unfortunately still present. Children are being separated from their family and people are being killed. I was very lucky I survived and I had my family next to me. It was hard enough as it was and I can’t even imagine where I would be if my family wasn’t there. Besides giving a voice and representing the stories of Kosovo, this film shows that family is the most important thing we have in life.
Review Fix: Do you connect with it in any way?
Nushi: I survived and lived to tell the story. Bini, which is the title of the film and the name of the main character, was my childhood nickname. It’s a film based on my personal experience as a six-year-old and the flashbacks I continue to have about the day I became a refugee.
Review Fix: How does it feel to be a finalist for a Student Academy Award?
Nushi: Truly, it’s a feeling I have no words for. So honored and humbled to get that level of approval as a filmmaker but also because this story is so personal that now it made me feel heard. I’m forever grateful to even be in the finals. It’s for my family and Kosovo and what its people have been through.
Review Fix: Bottom Line: Why must someone see this film?
Nushi: It’s something I created with heart and passion. A story that’s so meaningful to me and very timely with the events that are happening around the world now. Its importance to give a voice to a country that was forgotten and under the pressure of others for so many years. We survived and I hope that our story will inspire to bring help to many others.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Nushi: I just graduated, so a job I hope! There are many ways to tell your story now and for me this is just the start. I am writing the film into a feature, but my goal is to make it into a series. My story was a very small part from a much bigger picture. I have so much I want to share and stories I have collected from many different perspectives that I feel a series is the appropriate platform to keep the conversation going.