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Daybreak interview with director Gentian Koci

FIPRESCI Warsaw Critics Project 2017 2017-10-23


Social realist drama Daybreak by Albanian director Gentian Koci, which won the best actress award for Ornela Kapetani when it premiered at Sarajevo Film Festival, competed in the 1-2 section at the 33rd Warsaw Film Festival.

Daybreak is a very harrowing story about what it takes to survive. What inspired you to tell it?

This story comes from my inner sensations, condensed from my daily observations of people walking on the streets of Tirana and other European cities. I tend to observe their faces and try to wonder how they feel; what their struggles are. I wanted to awaken the political nerve of people. I strongly believe that the pressure on them comes from the political and socio-economic structure and the indifference of those with power over them. I seem them as part of a chain. Because of pressures from above, the links of this chain break and people start to fight against each other, in order to keep the small things they have in their lives at any cost.

What reaction do you hope and expect audiences to have?

I believe artists are idealists at their core. I really hope that this film could make the audience deeply reflect on things happening around them, on their relations with other people, and on how difficult it is to survive in the society we’re living in. From these kind of reflections I really hope they could find the strength to change something, even if it’s a very small change in their lives.

The tagline for the film is “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Did you intend main protagonist Leta to be morally ambiguous?

None of us is perfect. I don’t like to create black-and-white characters. I prefer grey zones, because there you have both visible and invisible elements of a character. All of the characters are grey somehow; they are with Leta and try to help her, but they have to keep their own things together. Because of the socio-political system we’re living in, we are with each other and at the same time against each other. The audience has to ask themselves important questions about the characters’ complex intentions.

Ornela Kapetani is outstanding as Leta. Did her performance come easily?

It was very difficult of course. We had so many long takes. But she’s a very talented actress, and we worked really closely to build a character who reaches that level of psychological realism. I was very happy to find her after a lot of interviews and video casting.

What inspired the documentary feel of Daybreak?

Working on documentaries before helped me to envision the style of the film, because I wanted to shoot the scenes in a realist, concrete way, as if I could capture the actual reality of things. From the beginning I had a clear idea of what style the film would be, and aesthetic choices I would make. I wanted to cut away all cinematic language artifice, and make a deal with the audience. They’re coming into the dark theatre to watch a movie but will follow the story with their own eyes, without feeling this kind of intermediary presence or even over-presence of the director. Of course this made my work very difficult, especially when it came to working with the actors or my DoP, and sometimes we were on the edge, but I just went for it. In terms of other filmmakers, Abbas Kiarostami was an inspiration.


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FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

Monika Gimbutaitė, Lithuania
Monika Gimbutaitė, born in 1993 in Lithuania, graduated from Vilnius Academy of Arts, Art Theory and History programme. For three and a half years she held the position of a programme coordinator at European Film Forum Scanorama. She is currently working as culture journalist for, the second biggest news website in Lithuania.

Alexander Gabelia, Georgia
Georgian film journalist and activist. He's a political refugee from Abkhazia. Alexander studied history of cinema and Cinematography at Ilia State University. He writes about cinema and culture in various prints and online outlets including LIBERALI.GE, AHA.GE and he’s a cinema reviewer for on-line magazine – He’s been also involved into Tbilisi International Film Festival and Cinedoc Tblisi.
Arman Fatić, BosniaArman Fatić is Bosnian film critic/journalist currently based in Maribor, Slovenia where he is studying philosophy at Faculty of Arts Maribor. He is a writer for several websites/magazines across balkans some of which are, and His main fields of interest as a film critic are society problems in general and philosophical/religious symbolism in movies. 

Jakub Wanat, Poland
Film-lover, cinema-goer, festival-fanatic. Both cinema and writing are my biggest passions, so I decided to combine them, which basically means I killed two birds with one stone.  It all started with MAGIEL, Poland's biggest students' magazine, where for almost two years I was the head of the film column. I was chosen as a Polish representative in the Venice Days jury at the 2017 Venice Film Festival. I'm also the LUX prize ambassador and a proud member of the Scope100 project. I had a chance to write for Cineuropa, naEkranie and regularly for my blog. I'm studying both e-business and film studies, also having some time to work at a Polish start-up. 

Mikhail Morkin, Russia
Moscow-based film journalist. He is a chief editor and critic for His work has appeared in The Hollywood Reporter Russia, RussoRosso and Film Sense. He also worked as programmer assistant at 2morrow Film Festival. Born in Moscow in 1991, he holds a specialist’s degree in Linguistics from MSPU and is currently studying for master’s degree in Transmedia Production from HSE.

Mina Stanikic, Serbia
24 year old film and theatre critic based in Novi Sad, Serbia. Although finishing medicine studies, she took up career as a cultural journalist, starting in Kultur!Kokoška, a culture-dedicated web magazine, slowly becoming focused on film and theatre criticism. Her articles have been published in various cultural magazines, mostly in Serbian language. Mina is alumna of 11th Talents Sarajevo, where she took part in Talent Press program, writing and publishing in English. In film criticism, she has particular interest in debut films, and the following transition from short to feature filmmaking.  Mina works as a PR for the Film Front, International short film festival in Novi Sad, Serbia. 

Romanita Alexeev, Moldova
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