“Unwanted” is a feature film, directed, written and produced by Edon Rizvanolli, starring the talented cast of Adriana Matoshi and Jason de Ridder. The film is an official selection, competing at the International Filmmaker Festival of New York. It will screen at 8:00, on Saturday, May 27, 2018 at Producers Club Theaters (358 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036).
Edon Rizvanolli was born in Kosova, former Yugoslavia, but had to flee his country at the age of 19 because of the war. He first moved to Austria where he started his acting career in 1992. After four years of performing and over 250 stage appearances, he left for NYC and was admitted to the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, where he studied acting for the next two years. In 1998, upon his return to Vienna, he directed his first short film “Blownaway” and wrote two screenplays; “Kosov@ mon amour” (Documentary) and “Hairdressers” (Feature), both of which were subsidized by the Austrian Film Commission.
At this time, he also worked as an actor at the “Toxic Dreams” theatre group and as a radio journalist. In 1999 the war in Kosova was over and Edon returned to his home country. There he directed the documentary “Shuffle – politics, bullshit & rock ’n’ roll” about the post-war music scene in Prishtina and worked on various projects ranging from music videos and commercials to feature films. Since 2007 he lives in Amsterdam where he continues his work as an actor, director, screenwriter and editor.
FESTIVALS & AWARDS
T’PADASHTUN – UNWANTED
Karlovy Vary – World Premiere
Dutch Film Festival – Utrecht (Dutch Film Critics Award Nomination)
Tirana International Film Festival (best screenplay award)
South Eastern European Film Festival – LA (audience award)
Kosova’s Oscar 2018 nomination for best foreign language film
SHUFFLE – Politics, Bullshit & Rock ’n Roll
Dokufest Prizren (Special Jury Award, Audience Award)
Asterfest (Golden Horseshoe Award)
Sarajevo IFF, Crossing Europe (Austria), Palic IFF, Febiofest, Eastern Neighbours, LET’CEE Film Festival, etc.
Meet the Artist: NY Elite Interview with Director Edon Rizvanolli
NY Elite: Congratulations on being an official selection at the prestigious International Filmmaker Festival of New York. What are your thoughts about being accepted at IFFNY 2018 film festival and having your film screen in New York City?
Edon Rizvanolli: I am thrilled to have “T’padashtun” (Unwanted) screen in New York, where I lived for two years. The city will always have a special place in my heart, especially because of all the friends and the experiences I made there.
NY Elite: Out of the 500 submissions world-wide, your film was selected as the top 40 for IFFNY. What does this mean for you in terms of representing your country/city at this international film competition?
Edon Rizvanolli: “Tpadashtun” (Unwanted) had its world premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in Czechia. Since then the film has screened at many festivals such as; International Film Festival of India in Goa, Netherlands Film Festival, Cairo IFF, Santa Barbara IFF, Mannheim Heidelberg IFF, Minneapolis St. Paul IFF, Netia OFF Camera in Krakow and TIFF in Albania to name only a few. But it did not screen in New York yet, so I am really happy that the film got selected in this festival. This film tells a story which is close to my heart, about my country’s not such a distant past, which is why it’s wonderful to screen it to various audiences across the globe.
NY Elite: With what project are you partaking at IFFNY 2018? What is it about?
Edon Rizvanolli: At IFFNY 2018, I will be participating with “T’padashtun” which is my first feature film. The film’s main subject is acceptance; the difficulties one has with accepting themselves, others, the past or the present. The film also deals with the identity-related issues the 2nd generation of immigrants’ cope with.
NY Elite: Who else is involved in the making of this project? Tell us a little bit more about the story and who is in it.
Edon Rizvanolli: “T’padashtun” tells the story of a young Kosovar mother Zana, who left her homeland as a war refugee and lives with her troublemaking son Alban, in Amsterdam – The Netherlands. It shows the everyday efforts of a young mother raising her son, as well as the kid’s struggle with growing up. But Zana does not only have to deal with her present, she also struggles with her past, which looms over her and spills into the lives of the others thru out the course of the film. Telling more about the film would only spoil it for the viewers so I’m going to end it with this. As for the main roles, they are played by the superb Kosovar actress Adriana Matoshi and by the very talented and up and coming Dutch actor Jason de Ridder.
NY Elite: What message do you want to convey with this project?
Edon Rizvanolli: For me as the writer and director of the film the message(s) are clear but I rather not impose them on others, so that everyone can form their own interpretation and understanding of the film.
NY Elite: The Red Carpet Opening Ceremony and the Awards Gala will take place at the renowned Kaufman Astoria Studios of New York. Do you plan to attend the IFFNY Festival taking place on May 25-29, 2018? What do you want the audience at IFFNY to take away from this film?
Edon Rizvanolli: I would have loved to attend IFFNY and be back in New York after 20 years, but unfortunately that won’t be possible. I hope that audiences will engage themselves in discussions after watching the film.
NY Elite: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
Edon Rizvanolli: To me, film is a combination of many other art forms such as painting, literature, music, performance and design. These art forms exist longer than film, thus are more mature which is why one might think that a proper balance and/or combination of them could in theory make a film great. But that is not always the case. It’s the spark of the individual and his originality, which make a film stand out.
To me it is not so much the technique and the execution which make a film great as that is something almost everyone can learn. Rather, it is the ability of the filmmaker to face his deepest feelings and thoughts and express them in a sincere and distinctive way. Great films can be anything between a small ‘everyday story’ film or a ‘larger than life’ epic film, but what these great films have in common is the honesty combined with the unique worldview of the maker.
NY Elite: Top 3 favorite films/projects you have been involved in?
Edon Rizvanolli: Most of the projects I worked on are favorites, however I would like to mention the theatre play “Romeo & Juliet”, the Dutch TV series “Voetbalmaffia” and the Kosovar film “Martesa”.
NY Elite: What are your career highlights and achievements thus far?
Edon Rizvanolli: Playing Romeo in German, after only one and a half year in Austria, and having learned the language on my own, I consider an achievement. Also making “T’padashtun” on an extremely tight schedule, budget and with a lot of struggle is something I am proud off. This would however not been possible without the help of many people involved in the process.
NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
Edon Rizvanolli: Acting is and will remain my passion and my main outlet for creative expression. But I also direct, write, and edit. In the near future I hope to start making music and paint again.
NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking?
Edon Rizvanolli: If you feel the need to express yourself, then dive into it, but realize that you are in it for a long run. Stay honest to yourself and don’t give up.
NY Elite: What’s next for you?
Edon Rizvanolli: I’m writing the screenplay for my 2nd feature film and preparing for a role in a feature film in Montenegro.