‘Wake Up on Mars’ Helmer Dea Gjinovci on Refugees, , Kosovo

Wake Up on Mars/Maxime Kathari/Amok Films

In her function documentary, “Wake Up on Mars,” Swiss-Albanian filmmaker Dea Gjinovci examines the plight of a Kosovar refugee household in Sweden whose two daughters, stricken by resignation syndrome, lie in a catatonic state.

The dissociative syndrome seems to primarily have an effect on youngsters and adolescents as a response to the trauma of pressured migration, usually as a result of life-threatening circumstances, and who discover themselves in a state of uncertainty relating to their standing in a brand new nation.

Gjinovci first heard of resignation syndrome from a 2017 article in The New Yorker that targeted on a number of refugee households in Sweden with youngsters affected by the illness. Curious and desperate to be taught extra, she managed to contact one of many households portrayed within the article. “My parents are also from the Balkans, they’re from Kosovo and Albania, so I knew I could speak the same language as them.”

When she traveled to Sweden to satisfy the household, which additionally consists of two sons, “it just clicked,” Gjinovci says. “It was a point in their lives when they really needed to talk to someone who knew about their culture, who knew their language, who could help them as well as decipher what was going on with their asylum process. They were very open about sharing their story with me.”

Gjinovci’s movie not solely examines the household’s struggles in coping with the daughters’ situation as they search asylum, but additionally focuses on their youngest son, Furkhan, his eager curiosity in house journey and goals of constructing a spaceship (which, with the assistance of the filmmaker, he manages to do).

Gjinovci spent a 12 months and half capturing the documentary throughout a number of journeys to Sweden and one other 12 months with enhancing and post-production. The movie, which is being bought internationally by Paris-based Cat&Docs, was chosen for this 12 months’s Tribeca Film Festival, Switzerland’s Visions du Réel, Italy’s Biografilm Festival, the place it received a particular point out within the New Talents class, and the Underhill Fest in Montenegro.

In making the movie, Gjinovci fashioned a deep private relationship with the household that continues to be robust. “When you come into these families who are quite vulnerable, that are so reliant on an immigration system that they don’t really understand, and they’re always waiting for an answer, they’re always waiting for something, you have to be very loyal and thorough and straight with yourself as well.”

Gjinovci says it was important to stay constant and clear and stresses that their widespread language performed a significant position within the choice to make the movie.

“When I told them I was coming to shoot, that I was going to be back in October or January, I had to be back – that was very important.”

She added, “It was a lot of talking. I don’t think I would have done this film if I couldn’t speak Albanian with them. I think that really allowed me to go beyond the role of a filmmaker to someone you know who could just listen outside of just filming and really making sure that they trusted me and trusted my understanding of their situation. … It’s very much about building a relationship that goes beyond just a character and a filmmaker to create this kind of intimacy.”

For Gjinovci, who grew up in Switzerland, “Wake Up on Mars” marks a second work that facilities on a Kosovar refugee expertise. In her award-winning 2017 quick “Sans le Kosovo,” she traces the trail taken by her personal father when he left Kosovo within the 1970s and made his strategy to Switzerland, throughout which he spent a number of years in refugee camps in Italy, and visits his native village in what was as soon as Yugoslavia.

“Obviously the history of Kosovo was so brutal. I grew up with this image of Kosovo on the news and what happened to my own family, members of my father’s family were killed during the war, the trauma of leaving family behind — all of this is part of my own history and part of the convoluted history of the Balkans as well.”

Gjinovci added, “I’ve always been very interested in and impacted in my own personal story by exile and wanting to belong in a new society and how you can be adopted or rejected. The syndrome of resignation is sort of an extreme expression of rejection.”

In addition to approaching festivals, Gjinovci can also be working with NGOs and associations in France, Switzerland and the U.S. to prepare group screenings aimed toward creating consciousness and dialogue in regards to the plight of refugee youngsters and resignation syndrome.

Gjinovci is predicated in Geneva and Paris, the place she runs Amok Films with producing companion Antoine Goldet. She is at the moment growing one other venture with a Swiss manufacturing firm about refugee youngsters and after that hopes to maneuver into fiction.

Via Amok Films, Gjinovci can also be producing two upcoming documentaries, “In the Heat of the Cold Years,” directed by Darius Kaufmann and Eytan Jan, in regards to the golden decade of Cuban cinema that spanned 1959 and 1969, and a venture directed by Goldet set within the West Bank.


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