Scriptwriter of the Month: Kushtrim Asllani

Kushtrim Asllani, former Dramaturgy student at the Faculty of Arts in Prishtina, is our latest Scriptwriter of the Month. He has been working both in film and theatre as writer, director and assistant director and at the moment he is concentrating on his war trilogy. He already wrote two feature films dealing with the war of ’99. in Kosovo, so he’s missing only one more to finish the trilogy, and hopefully close the war chapter in his career. 

If you want to find out a bit more about what he’s working on, you can check his profile here and of course, read our short conversation with him.


• What makes the 5 films on your Top 5 list so special?


Making a top 5 list is really hard because I feel like I am leaving behind so many great films. But for the sake of the question here is my top five films of my current emotional and intellectual ability to select those films: A Schindlers List, Apocalypse Now, No Country for Old Men, Pulp Fiction and The Master.


A Schindlers List – It’s Spielberg’s best work in my opinion and I like this movie so much because it shows how in the darkest of time of humanity a single individual can make a great difference. Just by doing the right thing at the right moment your goodness will echo for eternity.


Apocalypse Now – I have recently thought about this film. I was thinking about what makes this film such an iconic one. It’s not just the stories behind it – the suffering that Coppola went through to make it, even putting his own money and months of delays in production. I think the most important fact is that it’s a psychological film about the descent into madness. But it has this spectacle approach, it shows the massiveness of war, from the helicopters flying all the time in the air to the Entertainment show in the jungle that the US forces have organized for themselves.


No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece of American cinema. Only Kubrick is more meticulous than the Coen Brothers. This film is told from three different perspectives: The hunter, the hunted one and the policeman. Everything else is there just to convey these three stories. The hunter is played by Javier Bardem and his character Anton Chigurh is the most terrifying character in cinema to date. The hunted is Llewelyn Moss played brilliantly by Josh Brolin as a man with a conscience that does the wrong thing and gets himself in the unwanted waters. The policeman is Sheriff Ed Tom Bell played by the amazing Tommy Lee Jones. He is an aging Sheriff close to his retirement and wants to save the innocent man. The pace of the film, the dialog, the characters, the way that the suspense is created in this film makes it a masterclass in Thriller and Crime genre. I studied it every time I got a chance too.


Pulp Fiction – Tarantino’s works always make my day, they make me feel better( this tells a lot about me!). I just love hearing Tarantino’s dialog, it’s like music to me! He just knows how to orchestrate words in such a way that they sound brilliant when you hear the actors deliver those lines. But in Pulp Fiction you get this story that’s unseen before in cinema. The way that Pulp fiction builds the story or unravels it, to me it’s mind blowing to this day. I can watch it on repeat and never get bored by it.


The Master – It’s a psychological film, about the relationship that a war veteran creates with a cult leader and his mistress. She doesn’t like him at all. It’s the best take on Ego, Id and SuperEgo on film up to this date. Paul Thomas Anderson is among the best living directors today.


• Why did you decide to go into film?


As a young kid I was an avid reader and living in a village, literature was almost the only way of getting some kind of entertainment in a rural place. And having a small library in the house helped a lot. And I also loved drawing a lot. So, these two hobbies of mine as a child helped me develop my visual skills and verbally expressive skills. Then slowly I started watching films and was just immersed into that world. The visuals, the characters, the stories, the emotional moments in specific scenes etc. Those things made me slowly fall in love with films and fill my daily life with joy. But it wasn’t until I was around 23 when I had a life altering accident that I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a film director.


• Commercial films or art house?


I think that an artist does things on his own terms. That’s why he is an artist because he sees things differently and is crazy enough to maintain that vision or to fight for it. A subjective approach like this I believe will result in an art house film, meanwhile if an artist lets the producers or the audience taste dictate his choices in his film that will result in a commercial film. I watch everything and anything that I can get my eyes laid on. I love many commercial films and many more art house films. My hope is that commercial films will educate the audience to a certain point that they will want more from the art of cinema and that’s where Art house films come in.


• How and when did you begin writing?


I always wrote a little bit here and there as a kid, mostly poetry and short stories. But it wasn’t until the University that I started taking writing seriously and seeing it as a profession that I can make money from. The idea of turning a piece of white paper into something that hundreds of people will get paid to work on is something that will forever fascinate me and keep me humble in my pursuit of creating something beautiful.


• Where do you like to write the most?


Writing is a job like any other. If you see the best writers in the world and those most productive, they say that their approach to writing is like taking an office job. They do it every day and during certain hours. The idea here is that motivation has to find you working and once you do it for a certain number of years, that becomes your routine and when you are a creative person, a routine of working will be a blessing because you will be productive like Ennio Morricone. But that’s the hard part also, routine is the hardest thing for an artist to do. I personally try to write in the morning because I am rested, and my mind thinks more clearly.


• What kind of music do you listen to while writing?


If you listen to music while you are writing that music can change your mood, whatever the music is about or whatever feelings it conveys. I usually listen to a lot of classical music and my favourite band is “Tool” and recently I am enjoying their latest album “Fear Inoculum”. But when I write I try to minimize any distractions, I try to solely focus on writing. I try just to write and nothing else. Music is a big part of my daily life and has helped me develop my artistic taste. But when I listen to music I do just that. I don’t like mixing things because you can’t enjoy any of it.


• Where do ideas come from?


Ideas come from the long process of digesting the world from years and years of living and reading or enjoying all forms of art. Then, after certain years of creating you start to find your own voice and then you express yourself through your desired medium. Ideas come from that process, but to be more elaborate ideas can come from: unforgettable moments in life, unique characters you meet on your journey, weird thoughts you have on a sleepless night, idealizing the woman of your dreams, meeting the woman of your dreams, finding inspiration in other works of art, hearing people talk about their point of view and many, many more. There is a great example I like to mention when I get to talk about the creative process. Goethe is considered a genius of Literature in Germany for sure but in rest of the world, too. It took Goethe more than 30 years to finish “Faust” (in some articles it says even more) and that guy was a genius! He created a masterpiece for theatre and Faust is one of the most revived plays in the theatre world. But even a genius took more than 30 years to create a single work of art. It’s a very complex endeavour and I am trying to give my humble and very subjective point of view in this honourable profession.


If you could go anywhere in space and time, where would that be?


This is an excellent question because Art is many things and one of those is that it is an escape from the real world. And no other art form can do this better than filmmaking and it’s this particular reason that makes it such a strong art form. Two of my idols in life, Skenderbeg and Da Vinci, both lived at the same time. Skenderbeg saved my people from the Ottoman Empire and was a great general and leader. Da Vinci was creating masterpieces and setting the bar for many technological inventions. The idea that both of my idols lived at the same time is very amusing to me. But even though I am fascinated by this time and these two individuals If I had an opportunity to travel in space and time it would certainly be the future where I would be able to explore space, other universes and such, where medicine would be developed and technology would enable us to achieve more in life.