Interview with Enriko Hamzaj

Enriko Hamzaj is an Albanian filmmaker. Born in Tirana, Albania, in January 11th 1995. He is known for directing, producing, writing and editing independent films, documentaries, TV commercial projects. His work has been recognized internationally through several well known film festivals.

Growing up in the capital city of Albania, Tirana, he began to fell in love with the filmmaking process early on his teenage years. While studying film and TV directing at University of Arts Tirana, he managed to write, direct and produce several film projects that later on got nominated and awarded in many international independent film festivals, in the big capital cities such as Chicago, Paris, Rome, London.

Could you briefly describe your project for our audience?

"The Ones Who Didn't Fly Away" is a deeply personal project that explores the complex tapestry of emigration in Albania, unraveling its threads through the intimate lens of a starting love story. In this film, I take the audience on a journey with Glaucus and Era, two individuals grappling with the challenges of their existing relationships while finding solace, connection, and unexpected love in one another.

The ones who didn-t fly away IMdb poster v2jpg

What were your main aspirations or goals when creating this project?
As a filmmaker, I believe that love is a powerful vehicle to convey the broader issues that shape our society. My aspiration with this film was to provide a window into the emotional struggles of those who find themselves at the crossroads of love and the harsh realities of emigration. I aimed to craft a cinematic journey that symbolizes as a metaphor for the larger collective experience, where the pursuit of love and happiness intersects with the broader socio-economic challenges that lead individuals to consider leaving their homes.


Share some memorable moments from the shooting process or any pleasant surprises.
This film was fueled by a deep passion for the art of filmmaking, and I was fortunate to collaborate with a highly skilled professional team who shared the same dedication and enthusiasm. Throughout the entire six-day shooting schedule, the experience was marked by a blend of hard work and joy. Our set featured two esteemed actors from Albania, Romir Zalla and Gëzim Rudi, and I must acknowledge the pivotal contributions of the lead actors who consistently infused the set with positivity. Gert Miraçi, a long-time friend and collaborator, and Xhoana Karaj, whom I consider the foremost emerging actress in Albania and soon to be recognized internationally, played crucial roles in creating a memorable and rewarding filmmaking experience.


Who is the primary target audience for your film, and what do you hope they will take away from it?
The primary demographic focus for this film is undoubtedly the younger audience, encompassing individuals aged 18 to 30. However, this does not exclude other age groups from the intended viewership. "The Ones Who Didn't Fly Away" endeavors to navigate a nuanced equilibrium between the personal and the universal, encouraging viewers of all ages to empathize with the characters and, by extension, grasp the wider challenges encountered by those affected by emigration. My objective is to elicit a profound emotional impact, fostering a connection that transcends both cultural and geographical boundaries.



What makes your project an appealing choice for potential distributors?
The thematic elements and the central message conveyed by this film serve as compelling factors that enhance its appeal for potential distributors. I believe that the profound themes explored in the movie, along with the impactful message it conveys, constitute strong components that position it as a viable choice for global expansion.

How would you define your unique filmmaking style, and what distinct qualities characterize your film?
Creating this film presented a notable challenge for me, given my background as a writer-director primarily involved in the thriller and mystery genres. Embarking on a new endeavor with a social drama intertwined with romance marked an entirely fresh canvas. It required a departure from my accustomed "aggressive" directing style, characterized by dynamic camera movements and intensity. For this project, I opted for a more subdued directing approach, incorporating numerous medium close-ups to effectively convey the emotions of the actors. The camera movements were deliberately smooth and unhurried. Ensuring the realistic portrayal of the relationships between characters was paramount in this film.

What inspired you to pursue a career in filmmaking?
Let's say I always loved making movies, even "before I knew it". When I was a little kid, I enjoyed creating stories and filming them with my toys using a camera phone. As I grew up and studied mechanical engineering, I realized that my heart wasn't in it. I really loved using a camera to film things, so I decided to stop my engineering studies and go to film school to follow my passion.



Do you have a filmmaker or source of inspiration who has influenced your work?
It's challenging to pinpoint just one influence, as there are several notable figures who have shaped my perspective. Beginning with classical luminaries such as Kubrick and Kazan and extending to contemporary favorites like Darren Aronofsky, Michael Mann, Denis Villeneuve, and Christopher Nolan, these directors have captivated me with their exceptional films and adept directing skills. Their work unintentionally imparted a valuable lesson on the importance of boldness and staying true to one's creative vision. Through their example, I've learned the significance of forging an artistic identity.

Share a couple of your favorite films and what resonates with you about them.
I must begin with "On the Waterfront," a film that I paid homage to in my current project, "The Ones Who Didn't Fly Away." This movie, ahead of its time, exhibits a remarkably realistic approach and stands out for its exceptional direction—it's among the best I've ever witnessed.
Continuing with the theme of being ahead of its time, I can't overlook "2001: A Space Odyssey," a film that consistently astounds, regardless of how many times you watch it.
My list extends to include noteworthy films such as "Heat," "Black Swan," "Incendies," "The Dark Knight," and so forth. Each of these works has left an indelible mark on me for various reasons.

Where do you typically find inspiration for your film projects?
The source of inspiration for my film projects varies. At times, it is sparked by seemingly trivial observations in everyday city life— a movement, an action—that catalyzes my imagination, prompting the construction of a narrative. On other occasions, inspiration strikes as a vivid "vision" or "picture." Take, for instance, "The Ones Who Didn't Fly Away," where the initial concept that materialized in my mind was the visual composition for the concluding scenes of the film. This imaginative visual served as a catalyst, prompting the development of a narrative that ultimately evolved into the completed film. Thus, from the inception of mere "imaginary ending shots" in my mind, the project metamorphosed into a tangible and finished film.

Learn more about Enriko and his projects



Webpage for the "The Ones Who Didn't Fly Away" and the trailer: