Part I—where it all began, and the social pressures on women
Director More Raça grew up in Kosovo and currently resides in Pristina. She has directed numerous well-received shorts such as “Home”, “Ajo”, and “Amel”, and continues to spread awareness about the social issues that affect fellow women in her country. In our two-part interview, she talks about how she started out in film, why she tells the stories of women’s daily struggles, and what stage she is at with her first feature.
K: How did your journey in film begin, and why did you choose to focus on women’s issues?
M: All my life I knew that I wanted to be involved in film. As a child, I received a camera as a present and I started filming movies with family members. I was influenced a lot by my father who was an actor, and I understood that film was a way for me to represent my world and tell others about my concerns. During my studies, I fell in love with Italian Neo-Realism, which had a huge impact on my career. I saw that you could make great movies with little budget, non-professional actors, and real locations.
I decided to deal with women’s issues because in Kosovo, there weren’t a lot of films that represented women. Women were there to be part of a male story, but they were not the leaders of the stories. I always wanted to show the world the problems that women deal with and make them the protagonists. I feel that in my country, women face many difficulties in their daily life. Film is a great way to bring about social change and make people aware of what they’re going through.
My mission as a woman and a filmmaker is to bring these sensitive issues about women to the screen. I try to bring into my work all the stories that I have heard from the women around me.
K: When viewing your films, I saw that your family are members of the cast and crew too—are they also interested in filmmaking?
M: Film is very important in our family—we are all involved in filmmaking. Our grandfather was one of the first audio technicians in Kosovo, my father was an actor, my uncle was an audio engineer, and my brother works in cinematography and directing. It is an important art for us—something we cannot separate from our lives. It’s not a career or profession, it is life itself. The best thing is when you have people around you who can help you and give feedback; it makes the whole process easier, more exciting and personal.
We don’t really think about why or how we started because it feels like it was in us form the very beginning. My brother and I were drawing characters from a very young age. It was a way to tell stories about our world and ourselves. It started out as our childish world and problems, and then it developed into something more professional and global.
K: You have written and directed many short films such as “Ajo”, “Home”, and “Where is Don?” and they share the common theme of oppressed women trying to fight for themselves. How would you personally describe the focus of your work?
M: My focus is on women’s daily struggles in a society that is in transition, where different socio-economic problems often affect women the most. Many women cannot escape violence because they have no one to turn to. I like to represent stories as they are, but also show that there is hope for change. In my films, I want to create a reality where women are given a chance to make a choice they may not be able to in real life.
K: Could you explain to us the social pressures that women deal with in your country?
M: There has been a lot of development towards positive change in comparison to the previous years. If you see our constitution, it provides equal treatment to men and women; it is a democratic constitution following the European law. However, in implementation it is not like that. People turn to family rules, and they sometimes do not obey the law. For example, with property inheritance rights, the constitution grants rights for daughters and sons to inherit equally. But people revert to social norms, where it is not acceptable for women to ask for their equal share. This is why only 13% of Kosovar women have inherited property. There is still so much work to be done, but I believe the future will be better, and we will be taking bigger steps towards positive change.
K: What effects have your films had so far, and what influence do you hope they will have in the future?
M: When I was making the film “Home”, people had started to talk about inheritance equality. To be honest, I don’t think people are openly ready for a societal change to happen due to a film alone. However, I can happily say that when I screened “Home” in different parts of Kosovo, some people became so attached to the characters, that the film changed their thoughts. I think that one person at a time, a film can change the mindset of a whole society. Art has helped in the improvement of society, but we should be more critical of ourselves, and represent more concerning issues in our works.
Trailer for “Home”
© Katusha Jin (7/29/18) FF2 Media
Photo Credits: London Flair PR
To read part II of the interview, please click here.