Based on Hamlet, William Shakespeare's greatest tragedy, I, Father is set in contemporary Kosovo and explores the story of Hektor (Alban Goranci), a young man who finds himself in turmoil when his father dies in an accident and he discovers that his mother, Marigona (Makfire Miftari) is involved in an affair with his uncle, Vasillis (Besim Ajeti).
Wracked with grief, Hektor's growing disdain for his uncle and mother, along with his confused emotional state begins to affect his view of the world, reflecting on his personal relationships with his love-lorn girlfriend, Irma (Florentina Ademi) and best friend, Ceran (Alban Shahiqi).
But when his deceased father appears before him and persuades him to confront his uncle at a planned engagement party, Hektor is set on a path of revenge and destiny. However the intended physical altercation with his uncle backfires and leaves him out in the cold, rejected by both his uncle and his mother. As events unfold, with the chasm between him and his mother wider than ever, Hector is forced to re-evaluate his thoughts about his family and an attempted reconciliation leads to a catharsis where he ultimately learns the truth about love and honour.
Written and directed by British award winning filmmaker, Mark Norfolk, I, Father was shot in the city of Gjilan, Kosovo, on a shoestring budget in less than a week from a script adapted into the Albanian language and produced by Pristina based production company, Filma-KS in a co-production with UK’s Prussia Lane Productions.
Norfolk states, “I see I, Father as an exploration of the modern family through the story of the young people and their relationships with the older members of society. This reflects the present status of Kosovo as an evolving country moving from one regime into another, from the old into the new, building a foundation on history to create a new modern and egalitarian age”.
I, Father is based on William Shakespeares greatest tragedy, Hamlet. The movie is set within the contemporary world of the Kosovan family and much like the stage play, deals with spirituality, love, bereavement, psychosis, family, friendship, betrayal and ultimately acceptance. It is a very human story, told visually, with elements of indiginous culture thrown in by way of traditional song and dance. There are many clues in the film to its direct link to Hamlet, yet it maintains its own truth, spoken in the Albanian tongue and shirking elements of theatricality. With solid, stark performances from an ensemble cast it proves itself to be a wonderful, multilayered film that not only explores the central character's psychology but gives room for the different facets of the 'bad guy' as well as the innocent and not so innocent female characters.
- All Lights India International Film Festival
- Dhaka International Film Festival
- Eurocinema Festival, Geneva - Winner Best Psychological Drama
- World Film Fair, LA - Winner Best Experimental Film
- World Cinema Festival, Milan - Winner Best Screenplay and Best Director of a Foreign Language Film
- Bridges International Film Festival, Greece
I see I, Father (Un ‘Ati) as an exploration of the modern family through the story of the young people and their relationships with the older members of society. This reflects on the present status of Kosovo as an evolving country moving from one regime into another, from the old into the new, building a foundation on history to create a new modern and egalitarian age.
The idea of the film sprung up very quickly. I had written a play based on Hamlet called Prince I Kosoves (The Prince of Kosovo) which was in rehearsal at the Dodona Theatre in Pristina. Makfire, who played Marigona in the play suggested it might be a good idea to make a movie. Of course, the opportunity to make a low budget, contemporary story based on an historical text was an exciting prospect, so I went away and put together a schedule utilising the same cast from the play. We even took a day out to scout possible locations. But that was the extent of it and I dismissed the idea as improbable. Eventually, the play was performed to a packed house and proved to be a success. In the following days, the subject of shooting the film came up again. To be perfectly honest, I thought it would never happen, however on the plane journey home, I began to adapt the script into a credible screenplay that was contemporary, yet shined a light on Shakespeare’s original story. When I got back to the UK, things moved very quickly. I eventually agreed to do the film for expenses only, and was back in Kosovo within two weeks to begin production. The cast changed due to availabilities, personalities and things beyond my control and I hit on the idea of having Besim play the parts of Vasillis and the Soldier, a technique I’d previously used on my award winning film, Ham & The Piper where I had the protagonist and the antagonist played by the same actor. It was a lot of work for Besim, but he pulled it off and I must say, given the circumstances of how things came together, he ought to be very proud of the outcome. There was no money, very little time, it was the coldest it had been in Kosovo for over forty years, so in the end to get to this point with a completed film is little short of miraculous.
We shot 4K for five days on a shooting ratio of 1:1, second takes were a luxury we couldn’t afford. This took me back to my filmmaking roots where after leaving film school I signed up to the 2CC (2nd Century Cinema) Filmmaking Manifesto. The Manifesto group didn’t last very long but the filmmaking principles it laid out made an impact on a young arthouse filmmaker and I utilised much of it for my second feature film, Crossing Bridges. For me, the ‘moment’ is key to telling ‘truth’ in performance, be it on stage or on camera. The actor has his or her idea of how they will play the scene but when this comes up against another actor, the director, technical conditions and the circumstance of the moment, there will come truth in performance.
Post production was a journey in itself, first, finding an Albanian speaking editor in the UK and then overseeing all the post production elements piecemeal as funds became available. In the end though, perseverance has paid off and we have a delightful little film to show.