Monthly Archives: December 2013

Lorena Haliti: Miss Teen Idaho

Meet Lorena Haliti, Miss Teen Idaho 2013. This Kosovar beauty was born in Berlin, Germany, and moved with her family to the United States at age 4. She has gone a long way since. On November 3, 2012, Haliti was crowned Miss Teen Idaho 2013 at Nampa Civic Center in Nampa City, Idaho. The crowning was unreal for Haliti who stated that, “It hadn’t hit me yet that I’m the Miss Idaho Teen USA, but it hit me when I saw the crown,” in an article by

According to, Lorena Haliti strives to graduate from collage and become a lawyer, as well as model for Sherri Hill. Family and friends are important to her, as she loves spending time with them. Haliti looks up to her older sister, Erza Haliti who was crowned Miss Idaho 2011.

Izer Aliu: On the Road for Success

Izer Aliu is a new up-and-coming director, mastering cinema in a way that makes film lovers everywhere hold their breaths. His short film, To Guard a Mountain, is now honored with 11 different awards. 

Macedonian born Aliu graduated from the prestigious Norwegian Film School in 2012 with his film To Guard A Mountain as his main project. Prior to this, he also gained a vast academic background in motion picture and international affairs from two different universities in Sweden. His talents led to him being chosen as one of th eTop 10 best directors by four major film magazines throughout the Nordic region.

A small crew of 14 students and 20 local employees of Radusha, Macedonia, helped create To Guard A Mountain, in collaboration with the Macedonian film industry. It was the school’s first graduation project shot abroad.

“We choose to work as authentically as possible,” Aliu stated in an article for Aftenposten. “Therefore, the filming was here in Radusha, and we used local actors. They are used to this mountainous terrain. It was also important that they speak Albanian in the local dialect. Had they talked in standardized Albanian, it would have seemed artificial.”

In To Guard A Mountain, Isa the shepherd must obey when his father commands him to find a lost lamb. On top of the mountain, his little brother and companion, Hamid, gets injured. Isa must decide whether follow his orders or his instinct.

The short film has won 11 different awards:

2012 National Film Award Amanda for Best Short Film

2012 Den norske student film festivalen: Best Cinematography

2012 Bergen International Film Festival: Best Norwegian Short Film

2013 Minimalen Short Film Festival: Honorable Mention

2013 AsterFest – International Short Film Festival: Best International Short

2013 Tetova International Film Festival – ODA: Best Direction

2013 The Norwegian Short Film Festival: Gullstolen – The Golden Chair Award for Best Short Film, The Writers Guild of Norway’s Award for Best Screenplay: Timeglasset – The Hourglass

2013 CinEast-Central and Eastern European Film Festival: Audience Award for Best Short Fiction Film

2013 Chicago International Children’s Film Festival: Adult Jury Prize – 1st Prize Live Action Short Film

2013 Rencontres Henri Langlois Festival International des Ecoles de Cinema, Poitiers: Student Jury’s Prize, Jury’s Special Prize

2013 Festival ZUBROFFKA: Best Cinematography

The short film has also been nominated for an Academy Award, in the Foreign Category for the 40th Annual Student Academy Awards.

Izer Aliu is currently on a path for success. According to, he is currently working on two projects. One is in post production right now: The Good Life, Over There, about a man in Oslo who illegally works in the construction field. It is expected to premiere in 2014. His second project, Hunting Flies, will be presented at various film festivals. It’s official premiere is due in early fall 2014, in Norway.

“Best Feature Film” at Albanian Film Week

By Ermira Babamusta

Right to Love, directed by Paul Kurti, written by Amina Zhaman won “Best Feature Film” at Albanian Film Week. The cast of Right to Love was presented with the award by Ambassador Bekim Sejdiu on November 14, 2013 at the Producers Club Theatres. Present at the ceremony were lead actors of Right to Love, Shpend Xani and Amina Zhaman, among with incredibly talented cast including Pavlina Mani (who also won Lifetime Achievement Award), Ariot Myrtaj, Luan Bexheti, Praq Rado, Nereida Isufi, Bukurije Navon, etc.  Albanian Film week is organized by Mrika Krasniqi and Ariot Myrtaj.

“I’d like to congratulate the organizers of the Albanian Film Week, especially Mrika Krasniqi and Ariot Myrtaj, for successfully braining the festival to New York City for yet another year. It is an important event that encourages and showcases the work of Albanian artists from all around the world. We are thrilled that “Right to Love” received the Audience Award for Best Feature Film. We thank the New York audiences for supporting the film,” said director Paul Kurti.

“I’d like to congratulate all the cast and crew of the film, starting with the lead actors Amina Zhaman and Shpend Xani. Also, thank you to the producer Marina Bolotokova of Oriental Pearl LLC for making the film possible. I am glad that, among other things, this film gave the opportunity to many Albanian American actors to work together and showcase their talents. Hopefully this is only the stepping stone for this kind of collaboration and that we will see much more successful work from this community in the future,” he added.

Right to Love has been an international sensation with world wide, sold out screenings, winning several awards. The cast of Right to Love is absolutely amazing. Outstanding talent Shpend Xani who landed the lead role at Right to Love, played a very convincing and powerful portrayal of Tony. Shpend Xani is undoubtedly a brilliant actor, who can carry a movie no matter what genre, be it romantic, drama, dark or comedy. The audiences in New York fell in love with his great performance in Right to Love.

“I would like to thank the audience for awarding us with the audience award for “The best feature film”. I would like to thank and congratulate the film producers Marina and Amina for doing a wonderful job and the talented director Paul Kurti who did an amazing work. I want to congratulate the hardworking and talented cast and crew. Finally I would like to thank the organizers of the Albanian Film Week for hosting such a great event and The Producers Club. Thank you all!” said the talented actor Shpend Xani.

In the Right to Love Story, written beautifully by Amina Zhaman, who also plays the lead female protagonist, Tony (Shpend Xani) is caught up between pleasing his family and making some bold moves for his life and future. Tony’s love interest (played by Amina Zhaman) wants to pursue her acting dreams while trying to keep a happy relationship with Tony. Luan Bexheti, Omar Chaparro, Karina Ivanova and Theodore Bouloukos co-star in this film directed by Paul Kurti.

The artistic vision of brilliant director Paul Kurti characterized the greatness, passion and imagination the director put in this work. Right to Love, winner of “Best Feature Film” brings the best talent to everyone.

Summer Is My Favorite Season: A Memoir of Childhood and War in Kosovo

Ilir Berisha recently published a book named “Summer Is My Favorite Season: A Memoir of Childhood and War in Kosovo.” The book captures Berisha’s experiences growing up in Kosovo and the impact the war had on him and his community. Today, Berisha lives in United States and said for The Times News that “he believed the American dream remains alive based on his experiences and that with some hard work; anybody can do anything and be anything they want.”

Ilir Berisha vividly recalls the time when he could hear NATO bomb strikes against the Serbian army in his homeland of Kosovo in April 1999. Berisha was living in the country’s capital of Pristina in the late 1990s when the Kosovo War raged. Conflict erupted between the ethnic groups in the region. Berisha said the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) was formed to combat Yugoslav forces led by Slobodan Milosevic and the Serb militia. The KLA was a paramilitary organization comprised of ethnic Albanians.

Berisha’s family was very limited to where they could travel at the time. He said when NATO forces led by Great Britain and the United States decided to intervene and strike the opposition with bombings, it was a relief for his family because they believed the war would soon come to an end. Berisha’s family included his father, Hysen Berisha, mother Xheva Berisha, sister Fjolla Berisha, and brother Shpetim Berisha. On a second attempt, the family was able to cross the border into Macedonia to flee the fighting. The bus they traveled on had a capacity of about 50. Berisha said there were about 100 people on the bus when they departed to Macedonia.

During the trip, Berisha said a Serbian militia checkpoint stopped the bus and checked all of the men’s papers to see if they were affiliated with the KLA. None of the men on board the bus were part of the KLA and were let through, Berisha said. Discrimination by the Serbs against his Albanian community was constant, according to Berisha. Berisha recalled when he was a boy living in the city, the Serbs would limit what they could do — even how they played outside. Since 1999, Berisha has called North Carolina his home. He left with his family for the United States after spending about two months in a refugee camp in Macedonia. His first stop was in High Point before finding his way to Burlington.

Today, Berisha, 28, lives with his family in Elon. He graduated from Western Alamance High School in 2003 and later graduated from Elon University in 2007 with a degree in creative writing. Berisha started a business in 2008, Cash For Cars, which is at 1004 S. Main St. in Graham.While at Elon University, Berisha began writing a book titled “Summer Is My Favorite Season: A Memoir of Childhood and War in Kosovo,” which was self-published earlier this year. The book captures Berisha’s experiences growing up in Kosovo and the impact the war had on his community. “I felt like I had to write this story,” Berisha said. “It meant so much to me.”
Berisha said the book’s title comes from a childhood memory, when his family would go to their summer home outside of Pristina in the countryside. The village where the summer home was located was in a predominantly Albanian area and the Serbs didn’t bother the people there like they did in the major cities. Berisha said as a child he was free to play with the other children at the village — that’s why summer is still his favorite season.
Since coming to North Carolina, Berisha said he has returned to Kosovo to visit with some of his family that remains in the region. Berisha said Kosovo remains one of the poorest countries in Europe and that there is still political tension there.

Berisha still thanks those who helped his family get established years ago in Burlington including members of Christ Church, now called Hillside Presbyterian Church. Among those who first met the Berishas in 1999 were Bob and Ruthie Garner. The Garners lived in Burlington at the time and have since moved to Raleigh.
Berisha said the Garners remained active in his family’s lives including taking him to soccer practice and helping him with matters at school when he was younger. Bob Garner said when the Berishas came to Burlington they didn’t have many material possessions but worked hard to save their money from jobs they secured and were able to become productive residents of Alamance County. “They are all very successful,” Bob Garner said. “It’s in incredible story. I admire the family so much.” Bob Garner said he first read the manuscript for Berisha’s book eight years ago. He said that Berisha never gave up his dream of writing the book and getting it published.
Berisha said the book can be purchased online at several sites including He hasn’t ruled out writing another book in the future.

The book includes several pictures taken during Berisha’s childhood and his time in Kosovo.He now calls North Carolina his home and doesn’t plan to return to Kosovo. Berisha said his future plans including growing his business in Graham. Berisha said he believed the American dream remains alive based on his experiences and that with some hard work, anybody can do anything and be anything they want.

The original article was posted at Click here to read the original article.

Sindi Arifi,La belle Miss Romande

Sindi Arifi was elected « Miss Romande 2014 » on November 30, 2013 in the Palexpo’ of Geneva. Only 19 years old, the Albanian beauty now represents the French-speaking part of Switzerland as she aims for further success. 

Sindi grew up in Switzerland in the Albanian Diaspora ambiance, with more than 200,000 Albanians living there for an estimated population of 8 million. Sindi Arifi is originally from Montenegro; another country with an Albanian minority population who live in the cities of Ulqin, Tuziand Tivar.

According to the statement that Sindi made to Canal 9, the model was extremely hesitant in participating in the beauty pageant. But, it was her parents who pushed this beautiful Albanian model to pursue her career in modeling.  During her interview with Canal 9, Sindi states that her victory surprised her but not her family who never doubted that, one day, she would become Miss Switzerland.

Sindi does welfare-work but is also passionate in the artistic world. Additionally, her title as Miss Romande is a professional opportunity for her as she is ambitious in working on a  fashion blog.

Two Historical Debuts in One Week

Europe and the rest of the world witnessed two historical debuts two weeks ago from two of our young talented Kosovar Albanian football players.

First up was Adnan Januzaj who made his first appearance in the Champions League when Manchester United decided to put the 18 year old in their starting eleven on the 10th of December. Januzaj played during the entire game representing United who also won the game against Shakhtar Donetsk by 1-0. Since United has shown a stellar performance during the entire group stage, the peak of success for the team was achieved when United made it through to the next round. This is important as the team will now play against the Greek team Olympiakos in the 8th final early next spring, thus showing more of Januzaj during the game series.

Two days later, another Albanian young talented football player made his debut in the European football stage.  The 19 year old striker Albian Muzaqi, is Racing Genk’s newest signing. Muzaqi who was bought from PSV Eindhoven, made his Europa League debut. During the game, he started on the bench against FC Thun and was substituted in approximately one hour within the game. Although Muzaqi was not very much present in the game, Genk still succeeded with a victory of 1-0. Just like Manchester United, Genk has made it through to the next round as a group winner. This will hopefully give us the chance to see more of Muzaqi too during the next future games. Finally, one must not forget that Champions and Europa League are two different tournaments.

Those were two historical debuts in one week for the two Kosovar Albanian talented football players Adnan Januzaj and Albian Muzaqi.

"Agon" aims for Oscar

“Agon” aims for Oscar

Synopsis: Two Albanian brothers, Saimir and Vini, migrate to Greece and try, each in his own way, to integrate into their host country by following two different lifestyles, with no way of turning back. Saimir is trying to build a new life with his Greek fiancé, Elektra and also look after his younger brother Vini.  Vini, who feels under his brother’s control, does not forgive Saimir for his life choices, thus becomes a victim of the underground world in hopes for quick easy money. The story takes a turn when Vini falls in love with the wife of the mafia boss. An impossible love with tragic regrets and unspeakable measures. How much pain can the human spirit endure before it breaks and ceases to trust, love and hope again?

Recent Screenings: The Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, Berly Hills, CA, SVA Theatres, New York. Upcoming Screenings: Romania, France

Albania’s Academy Award 2014 selection “Agon” by Robert Budina is an ideal top winner for four categories: Best PictureBest ActorBest Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Budina’s Agon sold out movie theaters across United States and around the world for the debut screening in over 15+ prestigious festivals including Hollywood, Chicago, Arizona, France, Poland, Kosovo, Albania, Egypt, Shanghai, Athens, Rome, St. Petersburg, Vienna, New York, etc.

Given all the high praise the movie has the received and all the prizes Agon has already won – “Best Screenplay” by See a Paris (South East European Film Festival); “Best Actor” by Guljem Kotori and “Best Film” of Bloody Hero International Film Festival in Arizona – this incredible film deserves to win an Oscar.

Agon deserves all the awards it can get its hands on including best picture for its outstanding high quality and cinematography. An incredible production collaboration between the superb team of producers: Sabrina Kodra (Albania), Lilette Botassi (Greece), Dan Burlac (Romania) and Guillaume De Seille (France) that delivered an exceptional quality film surely make Agon a potential Oscar favorite for best picture.

What makes Agon worthy of best director and best screenplay is its exemplary writer and director Robert Budina. Already a legend in theater and short films the award-winning Robert Budina is an incredible and visionary director, who dares to create masterful pieces that are unforgettable.

I am honored and I appreciate to be chosen for such a prestigious event, the Oscars. Agon has been screened world wide. Critics in LA praised it and loved the movie. It is a big responsibility to represent my nation in this prestigious and historic event, and I am happy to be among the best filmmakers to be chosen by the Academy Award. It is a testament to the hard work put to it. Agon is a very daring project, and I thank the entire cast and crew for making my vision come true with this film,” said award winning director of Agon, Robert Budina.

The most interesting part about this movie is that not only do you fall in love with the outstanding acting of all the main characters ; but you also find yourself falling for the villain. The bad guy, played beautifully by great actor Xhevdet Jashari became your favorite character. All actors were amazing and stood out for the emotions they brought on the bring screen, such as: Marvin Tafaj, Guljem Kotori, Isabella Kogevina, Eglantina Cenomeri, Xhevdet Jashari, Laert Vasili, and Antonis Kafetzopulos.

Agon is a powerful story about unwritten cultural ways of living that lead to conflict. The film is about integration efforts woven into the larger risks of cultural clash. This thought-provoking drama by the brilliant Robert Budina is not a story about immigration, crime or mafia, rather people’s efforts to build a life around two completely different cultures – the preexisting norms one brings versus adapting to the new customs of another community. While Saimir tries hard to fit in by earning an honest living and adapting to the new culture, his younger brother Vini feels alienated in the foreign land. He resists changing habits and behavior because he thinks he lost the trust of the dearest person closest to him and is not respected at the work place. Therefore he feels the need to man up and prove himself.

Agon is hailed as groundbreaking film-making, pioneering techniques that epitomize the perfect artistry in the film industry. Combined with superb acting of a very talented cast, a powerful script and brilliant directing, Agon showcases Albanian talent at its best.


BBC Tips: Kosovo-born Granit Xhaka as key Switzerland player during World Cup

BBC Tips: Kosovo-born Granit Xhaka as key Switzerland player during World Cup

By Kosovare Mezini

In the summer of 2012 the German team Borussia Mönchengladbach signed the 19 year old Granit Xhaka from Swiss FC Basel. Although Xhaka was signed last year, the rumors were spread that the young teenager struggled to find his place in the new team during his first year. This summer the reports continued that Xhaka was leaving Borussia Mönchengladbach for another team. The central midfielder has finally been adopted to the German team and decided to make a more visible contribution.

17 rounds into the German League Bundesliga, Granit Xhaka has been at the start eleven 16 times and missed one game during round seven due to a yellow card suspension. Xhaka got injured a couple of days ago, leaving the football start with a broken a bone in his hand. Despite having a cast covering his left hand, Granit Xhaka was able to play the entire game for Wolfsburg in the last game of this year.

The former Swiss U21 captain, Xhaka, has also debuted in the Swiss Senior team this year and has been qualified for the World Cup that will be held in Brazil next year. We hope to see the Albanian football star grow in the National team as well. BBC has quoted that “Formerly a winger, [Xhaka] now plays in central midfield and has been compared in style and talent to Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger by Hitzfeld.” A future Schweinsteiger? Let’s see what Granit Xhaka will do for both Borussia Mönchengladbach and the Swiss NT next year.

Albanian talent at the forefront

One of largest cultural magnets in the world has welcomed yet another Film Festival, this time with Albanian talent at the forefront. With nineteen movies running for six prizes, the three-days long festival of young cinematic artists has given a rare chance for Albanian talent to represent itself, giving the diverse jury of the festival a hard time.

“It is quite challenging and a great sacrifice to pull out a festival in the biggest world center. We are a small nation but posses great artists, which makes up for dignifying representation”- said New York General Consulate Bekim Sejdiu, of the Albanian Young Filmmakers Festival. The Movie “Weekend”, directed by Ergys Lubonja,  has been awarded “The Best Short Film” at the festival, which lasted for three days in New York, U.S. The festival concluded on December 1st. “The Best Script” on the other hand was awarded to “Death of Grandfather Trifoniot” with screenplay’s authorship of Xhoslin Rama who was the movie’s director while the “Best Director” went for “Acropolos” directed by Blerdi Malushi.

In this festival of young artists, there were a few special prizes. One such of “Best Lead Actor” went to Bislim Muçaj for his role in the movie “Silence” by Bekim Guri; “Best Lead Actress on the other hand was awarded to Lyra Xhoci for her performance on the movie “Hope” by ValonJakupaj, and “Best Documentary” was reserved for “Recyclable Life” by Blerina Gjoce.

The festival was welcomed by the Kosovo consulate in New York, Bekim Sejdiu. “This is the second film festival taking place in New York during November. It’s my pleasure to be here on behalf of Kosovo and congratulate organizers on their magnificent work. It is quite challenging and a great sacrifice to pull out a festival in the biggest world center. We are a small nation but possesses great artist, that makes up for dignifying representation,” Sejdiu stated.

The best selected movies out nineteen running ones, have been evaluated by a jury of: Kosovar director Arta Kallaba (Jury’s President), Ermia Babamusta (founder of Peace Action Foundation) and the publicist Violeta Mirakaj.

The original article was posted at KultPlus. Click here to read the original article.

Kosovars lobbying in Toronto for FIFA recognition

During the friendly match between Brazil and Chile in Toronto, three Kosovo born soccer fans showed a banner writing ‘Please, Accept Kosovo in FIFA.’ 

It’s not just the Kosovo Football Federation (FFK), and other local institutions that are currently lobbying for the internationalization of Kosovo’s football team. This ‘duty’ has also been taken by our fellow countrymen living and working in various counties of the world. They are showing the banner “Please, Accept Kosovo in FIFA” on the football stadiums and different sporting events that take place around the world. Similar lobbying tactics are seen in Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Poland and along with other countries. The fans in Toronto explained that once, “they found out that the match between Brazil and Chile would be held in Toronto, they would write a message to address FIFA.” Moreover, they continued explaining that, “within our possibilities, we tried of lobbing for the recognition of Kosovo by FIFA. Especially ahead of the forthcoming meeting between the Kosovar and Serb’s football executives,” he stated. The request from the executives of Kosovar football, to play friendly matches with the national team, has continuously been dragged by FIFA, for many years. This also occurred because of the pressure Serbia has been putting on the highest football institution in the world. However, it’s expected to be found a solution between the executives of the Kosovo Football Federation and the Serb ones, for the future of our country’s football, in the end of this month. Whereas FIFA will have the final say in the beginning of December, when the meeting of the Executive Committee will take place.

The original article was posted at Gazeta Express webpage. Click here to read the original article.