'The Land Within' director reveals unique challenges of filming in Kosovo

Fisnik Maxville speaks to our sister site Screen International about his first feature film

By Gabriella Geisinger 6 Nov 2023

'The Land Within' director reveals unique challenges of filming in Kosovo
The Land Within

At this year's Raindance Film Festival, Kosov-born director Fisnik Maxville screened his first feature film The Land Within

The Land Within tells the story of Remo (Florist Bajgora) who returns to Kosovo for a family emergency after living in Switzerland as a refugee for ten years. The film's synopsis reads "There, he rekindles his relationship with his cousin Una (Luàna Bajrami, Portrait of a Lady on Fire), who is initially angry at him for leaving the village for a better life abroad. 

"Together they await Una’s terminally ill father’s death, while getting involved in the exhumation of a local mass grave, the legacy of the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s."

Maxville himself was born in Kosovo and spent the first 15 years of his life in Switzerland as a refugee. "This has left deep marks in my approach to storytelling," he told our sister site, Screen.

The movie was shot in both Kosovo and Switzerland, and Maxville described the unique crew needs of filming in a small Kosovo town. 

"We found a small village called Sllakovc in the north-eastern part of Kosovo," he said. "There, we also had the chance to hire pretty much half of the village’s population to work with us, be it on the production side or as extras during crowded scenes. 

"The shoot there lasted for around 28 days, then [we had] about seven more days of shooting, in a forest nearby and the rest in Switzerland."

The Land Within opened at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in November 2022, at which Maxville won the Best First Feature award.

The film was produced by Swiss based producer Britta Rindelaub, co-produced by Swiss broadcaster RTS’ Benjamin Magnin and Françoise Mayor and Kosovo producer Yll Uka. It was financed in Switzerland in 2020 and started shooting in early 2021.

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