Rome-based Fandango Sales, the sales arm of Domenico Procacci’s production company Fandango, has scooped up world rights, excluding Spain and Andorra, for “Andromeda Galaxy,” the feature directorial debut of Kosovo filmmaker More Raça, which had its world premiere in competition at the Sarajevo Film Festival.
“Andromeda Galaxy” tells the story of Shpëtim (Sunaj Raça, the director’s father and the film’s producer), a down-at-the-heels single father struggling to make ends meet in economically ravaged Kosovo. With scant job prospects available to the 52-year-old widower, he finds himself resorting to increasingly desperate measures to provide for his daughter, Zana (Elda Jashari). Short on options, he ultimately decides to illegally emigrate to Germany in search of a better life.
“Andromeda Galaxy” is produced by Pristina-based Arena, in co-production with Spain’s Nephilim Producciones, Italy’s 39 Films, and North Macedonia’s DMF Film and Video Production. The Spanish distribution outfit Bteam Pictures acquired the rights for Spain and Andorra as part of the Glocal in Progress prize awarded to the film at the San Sebastian Film Festival last year.
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From the start of her career, the director—whose short film “She” won a Special Jury Award at the Cairo Intl. Film Festival—says she’s been eager to bring social issues to the screen. “In [Kosovo], we have many challenges, and many untold stories,” she said. “Andromeda Galaxy” is set against the backdrop of mass unemployment, corruption, and economic stagnation that has driven hundreds of thousands to leave Kosovo and the Balkans in search of better fortunes elsewhere in Europe. “For me as an artist, it was important to tell these kinds of stories and tackle these kinds of issues.”
More than just a social-issue drama, the film is also a portrait of the tender bond between Shpëtim and Zana, a love grounded in unexpected moments of joy salvaged from the difficult circumstances of day-to-day life. “Their relationship as father and daughter is built on very small things,” said Raça. “They do everything they can…to find happiness, even in hard times. For me, it was very important to show these kinds of small moments.”
The film paints a bleak image of modern-day Kosovo, but the director also sees in it signs of the resilience and hopefulness of many in the Balkan region. “Even though Shpëtim [is faced with challenges], he never loses the will for a better life,” she said.
The Andromeda Galaxy of the film’s title somehow represents this yearning. The closest galaxy to the Milky Way, it is also the most distant celestial body one can see from Earth with the naked eye—close enough, and yet also tantalizingly out of reach.
“I thought about [it as] the farthest point in the future,” said Raça. “For me, it kind of represents a father’s wish to see a better future, not just for himself, but [for] his daughter as well.”
She added: “Hope can be very far away for them…but they are eager for a better life, even if it seems so [distant].”