FIND A STORY, FLY TO KOSOVO, MAKE A FILM.
When our good friend and photographer Jane Stockdale came into our studio nearly four years ago to show us her latest work we didn’t realise that in six weeks time we would be in Kosovo and that it would be the first of four trips there over the next few years. But it was. We are making a film about the extraordinary tale of the Kosovo Olympic team.
Jane had been out in Kosovo shooting some of these potential athletes ahead of the Olympics and with just a few months left until they started she regaled us with tales of the potential stars, the lengths they had gone against the harshest backdrop to get to Olympic standard and the lengths that the organisers, and one organiser in particular, had gone to over the last twenty years to make this opportunity possible. It was too good a story. She didn’t know how to make a film, we didn’t really either but we decided there and then to go for it together.
IT HAD TO BE NOW
Without a commission or a plan of how we would release it we just knew that we had to capture the story now, the plan could come later. 2016 was a big year for Kosovo. Thanks to one man, and his relentless 20-year pursuit, for the first time in history Kosovo earned the right to compete at the Olympic Games. Beginning in Besim Hasani’s humble ‘House of Sport’
offices in Kosovo and culminating in the Kosovan athletes proudly stepping into the Olympic Stadium in Rio waving the national flag, this marked the realisation of a 20 year dream for Besim, one he risked his life for, spending an estimated £1 million of his family’s money to get there.
WHERE DO YOU WANNA BE?
Everything that was happening in the lead up to and during the games felt like it was the beginning of a new chapter for this small, young nation. Filmed in three countries and two continents, this documentary is about triumphing over adversity and succeeding no matter how high the odds are stacked against you. It’s not about where you’re from, but where you are going.
THEY TRIED TO TAKE IT ALL AWAY FROM US, SO WE TURNED BASEMENTS INTO GYMS, BEDROOMS INTO CLASSROOMS AND FIELDS INTO PITCHES.
Despite being the newest kid on the block and one of the poorest European countries, with a lack of facilities and funding, we take up the story with Kosovo standing a real chance at earning sport’s most sought after prize: an Olympic Gold medal, thanks to their secret weapon: World No.1 Judo Champion, Majlinda Kelmendi. A national hero Majlinda walks, talks and actslike a champion. There is a huge pressure on her shoulders as her entire hometown will watch her compete. Does Majlinda, the “David Beckham of Kosovo”, have what it takes to win sport’s ultimate prize, an Olympic Gold? We document her progress from training before the Olympics, to her fellow judokas reacting in her hometown Peje during the games, her eventual fight at Rio and reaction after her final.
At the other end of the spectrum we also follow passionate and humble Olympic Archery hopeful Hazir Asllani as he struggles hard to earn his place in the Olympic line-up. With perfect English and a love of literature, he is a ‘different’ type of athlete. Some people see his scholarship as a waste of money. Hazir’s dad used to be a champion wrestler but died when he was only 4 years old fighting for the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war, so we document Hazir as he follows in his father’s athletic footsteps. Despite having to share his training facilities with a kids dance class and only being able to see his coach once a week, Hazir has the right ‘Olympic’ attitude, but will that be enough to make it to Rio 2016? All his chances come down to one final tournament in Nottingham where we find out if he’s got what it takes.
As we join the Olympic Team hopefuls on their emotional roller-coaster of set-backs, challenges, hard-graft and grit as they fight to earn a place at the world’s greatest sporting event, we also follow the ecstatic Besim, packing for Brazil, ready to see his life’s dream come true. During the Olympic Games we capture the electric mood and atmosphere in Kosovo as friends, families and the local community watch the athletes compete with heart and mind, thousands of miles away as they prepare to make history on the world stage. They are a country wanting to
put their tragic past behind them and be remembered for bringing home Gold at Rio 2016.
Go Go Kosovo is currently in post production and is due to be released soon. Stay with us, documentaries are hard.