Woman of the Year Mrika Krasniqi:
The Formula for Hollywood Success
By Karen Rockefeller
Mrika Krasniqi is a visionary film director, writer, producer and successful entrepreneur, known for her ground-breaking documentary films. As a filmmaker she is considered highly influential in shaping social issues movies, addressing issues of human rights, gender equality, domestic violence, and the treatment of Jews in the Nazi era. She is most famous for writing and directing “Proof” (2018), “Soldier” (2014), “Four Chimneys” (2013), “World’s Noblemen” (2009), and “The Land of Kelmend” (2008).
Mrika Krasniqi is named “Woman of the Year” by U.S. Congress, and “Ambassador for Peace” by the Universal Peace Federation. She won “Best Human Artist” for her film “Soldier” by the European Community of Jewish Artists in Paris and “Certificate of Honor” at the Producers Network at Cannes Film Festival in France.
Mrika Krasniqi has worked as Associate Director for the National Geographic, building communication capacity to counter infectious disease threats.
“The formula to success is in the storytelling. I like to see stories in which characters are real, raw, that portray compelling survival stories. This is what makes a film extraordinary. I’m pragmatic as a filmmaker and I want to ignite my curiosity when developing a story. This allows for both joy and achievement to be realized when working in a film project,” said Director Mrika Krasniqi exclusively for Global Woman Magazine.
Early Life and the Years of War in Kosovo
Mrika Krasniqi was born in 1977 in Prishtina, Kosovo, where she studied Bachelor of Arts Degree in “Dramatic Arts” at the Academy of Fine Arts, University of Prishtina (2002). She earned two Master’s degrees in “Multimedia and Arts” from the University of Prishtina (2005) and “Public Administration” from Dardania University in Kosovo (2014).
Mrika Krasniqi’s childhood was a difficult part of her life. At age 12 she received her education underground and in hiding, risking arrest in order to attend illegal classes in private houses and basements. During this period, the Serbian regime did not allow Albanian-language schools in Kosovo, due to the oppressive law making it illegal for any Albanian to have the right to education in their mother-tongue, banning all Albanian-language textbooks for ethnic Albanians.
In her college years, during 1996-97 Mrika Krasniqi participated in student movements and protests to allow ethnic Albanian students and teachers to return to schools. During the protests she was arrested and beaten by the police a number of times with other students. In 1999, the Yugoslav and Serb forces caused the displacement of 1.45 million Kosovo Albanians. During the ethnic cleansing campaign, 13,517 people were killed or went missing in the conflict. 90 percent of Kosovar Albanians were displaced from their homes.
First Steps in Film
After the war, Mrika Krasniqi began writing short stories, drama, and poetry. Her first poems “Ardor in Love” were published in 1995, then she went on writing “Super Grandma”, “Ill Feelings”, and “Hanna”. Krasniqi became fascinated with drama and novels.
In 2000, Mrika Krasniqi worked as a screenwriter for the TV Series “Jeta e një Toke” (Life of a Land), the first ever TV Series to be sponsored by the American Embassy in Kosovo at the time.
At age 23, Mrika Krasniqi landed her first job at the national broadcasting media in Kosovo, the Radio and Television of Kosovo (RTK). She worked as the editor in charge of the documentary program, producing weekly documentary films at the only public station in the country.
As a director and writer, Mrika Krasniqi produced documentary films in the early years. Some of the main documentary films which she directed and wrote include: Grounds of Art in Kosovo (2000); The Art of Cotton (2000), winner of “Best Director”; Veli Gervalla (2001); The Groove of Hope (2001); Do You Want a Cigar (2001); and Room 135 (2002).
As a screenwriter, Mrika Krasniqi wrote TV Series and short movies in early 2000s. Her written TV Series include: Picture (2001-2002) and Collegiate TV Series (2003-2005). She also wrote the screenplays for four short films: Nothing (2003); Message (2006); Luan’s Come Back (2007); and The Testament (2007). Krasniqi is the playwright of two dramas: The Mayor Councilor (2004) and Hospital (2005).
By 2005, Mrika Krasniqi had produced 10 films, and had written three TV Series and two dramas. She gained her first commercial and critical success with “The Art of Cotton”. In 2004 Krasniqi traveled to Poland, where she picked up “Best Director” at New Poland Film, which was a significant moment for her filmmaking career, as an emerging director and writer.
Humanitarian Work and Social Issues
Krasniqi is the co-founder of the Different NGO in Kosovo, since 2004. The NGO achievements include key projects such as: Anti-Trafficking of Human Beings, Human Rights, HIV-AIDS, EURO Currency, Anti-Domestic Violence, Elections, Environment, Promoting Democracy, Protection of Mother and Child Rights, etc. The NGO has cooperated with different international and local organizations, including USAID, UNDP, OSCE, U.S. Embassy, etc.
From 2009-2010 Mrika Krasniqi served as Associate Director for the National Geographic. She joined a team of scientific experts, biologists, microbiologists, film directors and security guides in the Lost City “Ciudad Perdida” in the Colombian jungle and Santa Marta montane forest ecoregion. The multi-production project addressed global disease prevalence by 2050, in collaboration with National Geographic, ZoneX, the National Academy of Sciences, Bruce Cohen, Larry More, and many other prominent figures.
In 2016 Mrika Krasniqi organized an artwork exhibition in New York during her annual event Albanian Fashion Week, featuring works of Kosovo war survivors. The created special fund was designated to help Albanian women survivors of war-time rape and to empower women and children who suffered violence in Kosovo.
Success in late 2000s
By late 2000s, Mrika Krasniqi was establishing her reputation as one of the leading film producers in Europe. Several films proved to be a great success, such as The Land of Kelmend (2008); World’s Noblemen (2009); Goli Otok (2010); Four Chimneys (2013); You are not alone (2014); and Soldier (2014).
Mrika Krasniqi proved a master as a documentary filmmaker, demonstrating emotionally compelling stories. She reached international success with the critically acclaimed documentary film The Land of Kelmend, winner of “Best Social Documentary” in Los Angelos Film Festival (2008) and “Best Audience Award” in Zagreb Documentaries Festival in Croatia. The Land of Kelmend is a powerful documentary that looks at the last remaining ancient Christian sites, the preservation of churches and Christian tombs at the land of Kelmend in Kosovo.
The following year in 2009, “World’s Noblemen” helped boost Mrika Krasniqi’s critical acclaim and success. The award-winning documentary film “World’s Noblemen” tells the extraordinary true stories of Jewish survivors and stories of heroism of Albanians during World War Two, who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, sworn by the Albanian code of honor “Besa” (The Promise). Written and directed by Mrika Krasniqi, “World’s Noblemen” screened at Cannes Film Festival and is the winner of “Best Social Documentary” at New York Independent Film Festival in New York.
“Four Chimneys” is an award-winning documentary film, written and directed by Mrika Krasniqi, with an environmental message on pollution and natural resources. “Four Chimneys” is recognized with exceptional achievement and won “Production Award” in 2013 at the Drita Festival in Kosovo.
Move to America
In 2002 Mrika Krasniqi founded her company Nil Production Corporate, and in 2014 she opened the New York branch. She moved to New Jersey with her son Anil, where she began working on two new films. Her documentary film “You are not alone” (2014) tells the experience of the real challenges and hardship of children with Down’s syndrome.
“Soldier” (2014) helped Mrika Krasniqi establish her successful American film career and become one of the prominent film directors and international celebrities. The documentary film is dedicated to the heroes who risked their lives to protect our freedom and ideals of life, featuring Military Generals and Department of Defense officials from U.S.A., Germany and Italy. In 2015 “Soldier” won Certificate of Honor at Producers Network at Cannes Film Festival in France, and “Best Human Artist” by the European Community of Jewish Artists (EJCP) in Paris.
In 2016, Mrika Kraniqi was honored with the “Woman of the Year” Congressional Award by Senator Charles Schumer, as an extraordinary woman in honor of her achievements in arts, films and business. Mrika Krasniqi is an inspiration and role model to aspiring filmmakers.
The Success of IFFNY Film Festival
Mrika Krasniqi is the Festival Director of the prestigious IFFNY Film Festival. The International Filmmaker Festival of New York is one of the leading platforms of international cinema, dedicated to artists who embody diversity, innovation and creativity. IFFNY began in 2012 and it has grown each year, becoming one of the most respected festivals in New York for its commitment to advancing the film culture. Its popularity and success are due to the hard work and enthusiasm of the festival organizer Mrika Krasniqi, who is passionate about arts.
The International Filmmaker Festival of New York is a global industry event held annually in the world’s most iconic center of arts, New York City. Each year, the IFFNY festival brings to New York world premieres of films from around the globe, and gives the American audience unique opportunities to discover international cinema. (www.iffny.com)
Since 2014, Mrika Krasniqi has also been organizing the International Screenwriting Competition (ISC). The International Screenwriting Competition awards the most promising and innovative screenwriters. ISC is a highly competitive annual contest, part of IFFNY, organized by Nil Production Corporate.
Nil Production Feature Films
Director, writer and producer, Mrika Krasniqi has reached international success and is on the path to reaching a new stage in her cinema history in United States. The key to her success is the quality of the films she produces, and the essence of her scripts as film author. Krasniqi has dominated in documentary films and is currently working on two new feature films “Proof” (2018) and “Nik” (2019) that explore psychological dramas. In particular, she enjoys developing her talents in creating psychologically intriguing films. (www.nilproduction.net)