Kosovo-born film director and screenwriter Zgjim Terziqi developed a passion for writing at an early age. Terziqi graduated with a a BA and MA from the University of Prishtina in Film and TV directing and has written over 200 episodes for TV and tens of short films.
Zgjim Terziqi’s debut short “A Month” (2017) and second short Salon (2019), traveled to over 70 film festivals including Cairo IFF, Atlanta FF, Torino FF, Rhode Island IFF, Brussels SFF, Busan ISFF, New Directors / New Films, TIFF, Hollyshorts etc. He won 10 awards at festivals around the world.
His first feature film in development “2000: A Post-War Odyssey” was selected as part of Berlinale Script Station 2020, Torino Film Lab Extended 2020, Valletta Film Lab 2019, Budapest Debut Film Forum 2020 and won a development funding from the Kosovo Cinematography Center.
Zgjim Terziqi is an alumni of Berlinale Talents 2020 and Sarajevo Talents 2016.
NY Elite Interview with Award-winning Film Director and Screenwriter Zgjim Terziqi
What does it mean to make films today in Kosovo?
Zgjim Terziqi: I think nowadays it is easier to make films anywhere, with the advancement of technology, albeit this diminishes the chances for your film to be viewed by many people, as there is much more to choose from. In Kosovo, the coming years are crucial in terms of keeping the focus on our voices to be heard internationally.
What role does a Filmmaker have in Society?
Zgjim Terziqi: I think that is for everyone to decide for themselves. Personally, I don’t consider myself as having the moral high ground over anybody, let alone be considered a thought leader of any sort. That said, if my films can impact someone because they relate to the story, characters, or the way I think, that would make me glad.
What is your first memory of cinema?
Zgjim Terziqi: The ant dying in “Honey I shrunk the kids”, I was 5 or so, and that scene made me cry every time I watched on VHS.
As a storyteller, what is the most important aspect of building a character when telling a story?
Zgjim Terziqi: If you can define your characters in a way that you know them better than yourself – since it’s hard to be honest with yourself as so much as to know yourself – it is very easy to know how they react to the situations in which you put them in.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
Zgjim Terziqi: I’m not sure. I don’t particularly see myself as a very creative person, I would category myself as a persistent hard worker with maybe a bit of talent sprinkled in somewhere.
What are your goals when you make a film?
Zgjim Terziqi: I just want to tell a story which I think would be interesting to experience. Something people don’t regret spending their time and money on. And if then I can also make them, cry, laugh and think, that’s a huge win for me.
Can you tell us about your creative artistic process and your storytelling techniques?
Zgjim Terziqi: When I choose something to write about, it needs to be something that I truly care about, but at the same time something that will subversives an audience’s expectations in a way that it lingers with them for a long time.
What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
Zgjim Terziqi: In subjective terms the greatest films are the ones that move me deeply emotionally and stick with me for a very long time. I think it is similar to how we form bonds with people too, there’s always someone who has that “je ne sais quoi”, that you love to spend all your time with.
Can you share your festival experience and awards received?
Zgjim Terziqi: I have been very fortunate to be invited to many film festivals, and also receive awards in the process, and all of them are a unique experience by themselves. Maybe I would single out Busan International Short Film Festival in South Korea, and Cairo International Film Festival in Egypt, because I got to also learn a lot about two very special cultures.
Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in and why?
Zgjim Terziqi: My two shorts “A Month” and “Salon” and now my first feature “2000: A post-war Odyssey” which is in its financing phase. They are my favorite because they are the most personal to me. They are the only ones that I consider truly my films. I work a lot with script on other filmmakers’ projects and sometimes as a producer as well, but naturally the ones that I direct are the closest to the heart.
Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
Zgjim Terziqi: Maybe via my humor. I pretend to be a very funny human being in my everyday life. But I guess that’s a hit or miss perspective.
Can you tell us about your latest projects? What are you currently working on?
Zgjim Terziqi: I am currently working on my first feature “2000: A post-war Odyssey”, the most ambitious project of mine by far, which we hope to finish by 2023.
What advice you would give on film writing?
Zgjim Terziqi: Mark Twain is attributed to saying, “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything”, who knows if he really said it but, let’s say he did. Honesty is the most esteemed asset in writing for me.
This in itself is an oxymoron since writing is creating fiction, lying, but what I mean when I say honesty is the act of being truthful to yourself; of who you are, what you want, but also who your characters are and what they want. You shouldn’t think of writing a character with the intention of what you want for the character, of how your think the character should be. It is imperative that you are honest and write them as they truly are. If you are honest and open, your pages will surprise you in very beautiful ways.