Review Fix chats with “BINI” producer Lisa Thrasher to find out how she influenced the film and who she thinks will get the most out of the experience.
Review Fix: How was this film born?
Lisa Thrasher: The film “BINI” was born when talented writer/director Erblin Nushi pitched me another story ending the pitch with “it’s easy to shoot,” which I rejected because I didn’t think he was digging deep enough creatively (and because ease of production, while nice, does not a good story make.) Erblin, who is filled with countless amazing film ideas, then immediately pitched me “BINI” and I knew that was it!
Review Fix: How has it changed from the initial concept?
Thrasher: The original draft of “BINI” was much longer with more characters, storylines, and events – it was a feature. The full story of “BINI” is so moving it really needs to be a feature.
Review Fix: What are you most proud of when it comes to this film?
Thrasher: Of course, I’m so proud and moved by the nuance of Erblin’s storytelling and delicate beauty of Cinematographer Isak Duraku’s images; and, I’m immensely proud of being able to produce this film with such ease against the challenges of a small crew with big equipment and one truck (we usually walked to set,) limited resources, and with so little prep-time on the ground; but mostly, I’m so proud to produce a film for people and a country so grateful to be recognized.
We received kindness and support from everyone, even the City of Peja! Peja loaned us a van and driver to get our cast and cases of water to set each day plus they loaned us a city bus and driver to get our entire cast and crew to the top of the Rugova mountains to shoot the ending of the film. I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm for filmmaking in Kosovo.
Review Fix: What helped inspire it?
Thrasher: “BINI” is the true story of not only Erblin Nushi and his family but of the 1.2-1.45 million ethnic Albanian Kosovars who were removed from their land, killed and/or went missing at the hands of the Serb and Yugoslav forces during the 1998-1999 ethnic cleansing wars in Kosovo.
Review Fix: What was the feeling like on set?
Thrasher: The set of “BINI” felt like it was graced with wings. Everyone worked so hard and cared so much about its authenticity and success. As a Producer, communication is my “super-power” and at first I felt hobbled because I don’t speak Albanian. But amazingly, I could speak to the crew in English and the crew could speak to me in Albanian and yet, somehow, we could entirely understand each other. It was beautiful!
I feel so fortunate to have been able to produce “BINI” and to work with Erblin Nushi who is very talented with a strong vision and always has me laughing hysterically! Of course, I also have to give props to our amazing AD, Rita Krasniqi, who was my right-hand-woman throughout! It’s a wonderful experience to work in harmony with people that you truly enjoy.
Review Fix: What stands out the most about your cast?
Thrasher: The cast of “BINI” (Lurni Krasniqi, Artiola Hamdija, Fjolla Nushi, Eshref Durmishi, Armond Morina, Florentina Ademi, Elena Shoshi) is so incredibly talented! I was especially in amazement of the talent and commitment of Lurni (who played Bini) and Artiola (who played his sister Fjolla,) they delivered astonishing performances and they loved the process. Lurni and I both cried when we cut on our last shot – which poignantly was the opening of the film – because we enjoyed making this film so much we didn’t want it to end. Even more notable than the talent of the cast was that they were so gracious and so much fun! They welcomed me into Kosovo, with kindness and appreciation, as if I was a guest in their home.
Review Fix: What makes this film special?
Thrasher: “BINI” is special because it’s true. It’s important to remember that ugliness can’t prevail and to honor those sacrificed for respect and freedom.
Review Fix: Who will enjoy it the most?
Thrasher: Everyone can relate to “BINI,” at its core it’s a story that is universal and intrinsically human.
Review Fix: Why is the subject matter of this film important?
Thrasher: “BINI” is so important, especially now and especially in the U.S., as xenophobia and isolationism have eclipsed the kindness and humanity of so many.
Review Fix: Do you connect with it in any way?
Thrasher: I connected with the story of “BINI” because at it’s core, “BINI” is about that moment in everyone’s life – sometimes as a young child, sometimes as a teen, and sometimes as an adult – where external circumstances cause you to shift from a place of innocence to experience (nod to William Blake) as such, “BINI” is a story that is universal and intrinsically human.
Review Fix: How do you feel about this film being a finalist for a Student Academy Award?
Thrasher: I am beyond excited that “BINI” is a finalist for the Student Academy Awards! Erblin Nushi is such a talented director he deserves this attribution. Mostly, I’m excited that the Student Academy Awards attention will allow Erblin and me to bring more of his stories to fruition!
Review Fix: Bottom Line: Why must someone see this film?
Thrasher: “BINI” reminds us that we don’t know everyone’s story from a glance and, as such, we need to avoid assumptions and be compassionate to others – it’s a reminder everyone needs, especially now.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Thrasher: What’s next – I am developing and seeking funding for a few features and a TV show, all of them I’m super excited about!
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Thrasher: I think it’s important to remind everyone that in 1999 it was NATO and the United States that liberated Kosovo from the horrors of xenophobic ethnic-cleansing. I’m appalled and horrified by the ugliness of I’m-better-than-you thinking then and now.