You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Docmaker Kastrati Makes Feature Debut at Toronto With ‘Zana’

Haunted by the trauma of war and pressured by family to seek treatment for her infertility, a Kosovar woman struggles to balance the responsibilities of motherhood with her personal healing in “Zana,” documentarian Antoneta Kastrati’s feature debut, which has its world premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

“Zana” is produced by Casey Cooper Johnson for Crossing Bridges Films and co-produced by Sevdije Kastrati, Dritan Huqi for On Film Production (Albania), and Miguel Govea and Brett Walker for Alief. Alief is handling world sales.

“Zana” is a deeply personal film for Kastrati, who lost her mother and a sister in a war that claimed more than 10,000 lives and displaced more than a million people. After surviving the conflict and studying journalism she began to make documentaries about post-war Kosovar society, including her most recent short, “She Comes in Spring,” which premiered at the Busan Film Festival.

“I needed the time after the war to focus on other things,” she said. “It’s not that I wasn’t dealing with it. But to process it through my heart, I needed some time to step away from it. Fiction made it easier somehow.”

Popular on Variety

While developing “Zana,” Kastrati traveled the Kosovar countryside, interviewing women about the loved ones they’d lost during the conflict. Many said they were still haunted by nightmares more than two decades after the war’s end. “I think there’s part of ourselves that will never get healed,” said Kastrati.

“Zana” was shot with her long-time collaborator and cinematographer, sister Sevdije. During an especially moving memorial scene in the film, many of their real-life family members took part. It was an emotional moment in which fact merged with fiction, and the on-screen mourning tapped into a very real grief.

“We were all crying, but we still kept going,” said Kastrati. “That was in some way cathartic.”

More Film

  • Better-Days

    Macao: Hot Bets, Short Odds And Sure Things in the 2019 IFFAM Program

    Macao may be renowned for gambling, but the 4th International Film Festival & Awards of Macao (IFFAM) features more than a few sure bets. Oscar-watchers should look out for Taika Waititi’s opening film “Jojo Rabbit”; Rupert Goold’s biopic of Judy Garland, “Judy,” which looks likely to land Renée Zellweger a best actress nomination; and Terrence [...]

  • Yao Chen in “Send Me to

    'Clouds' Director Teng Congcong on Being a Conservative Chinese Feminist

    As hot money flees the China film market and financing dries up, the romantic film genre will actually become more attractive for investors, assesses Teng Congcong, director of the recent Chinese romantic drama “Send Me To the Clouds.” “Things used to be moving in the direction of big budget blockbusters, but the financing that’s leftover [...]

  • I'm Livin' It

    Films From Macau and China Take the IFFAM Spotlight

    The fourth edition of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM), which opened last night (December 5) at the Macao Cultural Center, is positioned as one of the key events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the handover of the former Portuguese colony to the People’s Republic of China. Five Macanese features are among the [...]

  • Grand Isle

    Film Review: 'Grand Isle'

    A sub-Tennessee Williams potboiler triangle between restless sexpot, impotent husband, and hunky handyman ever-so-slowly congeals into a lumpy gumbo of thriller elements in “Grand Isle.” This third directorial big-screen feature for veteran Steadicam operator Stephen S. Campanelli has plenty of potential guilty-pleasure signifiers — not least being top-billed Nicolas Cage’s sixth vehicle this year — [...]

  • Nour-Eddine Lakhmari on Documentary 'Turn the

    Moroccan Director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari on Documentary 'Turn the Light On,' and New Feature

    Moroccan director Nour-Eddine Lakhmari – whose trilogy of films, “Casanegra,” “Zero” and “Burnout,” were major local hits – is completing a documentary for the Marrakech Film Festival Foundation, entitled “Turn the Light On,” about the Foundation’s medical-social campaign, that provides free cataract surgery treatment. The campaign is organized in partnership with the Ministry of Health [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content