Synopsis: In 1921, Luxembourgish cartographer CHARLES SCHAEFFER is sent to Albania as part of a border commission to gather information on the topography and the people of the region. The country has recently become independent, but it does not yet have clearly defined borders. Surveying the land, he meets a young boy who briefly joins him on his walk. Charles shows him how he does his work and becomes friendly with him.
Back in Paris, Charles gets to report to the Conference of Ambassadors. At first, he is overwhelmed by the impressive architecture and the intimidating grandeur of the event. However, he soon learns that the party of self-serving diplomats has little interest in the future of the people he has just met. With no representative of Albania even present, Charles feels the need to speak up for the young country. Despite breaking protocol in doing so, Charles shares an observation with the quarrelling diplomats that could allow them to find a peaceful solution to the question of where to draw the urgently needed borders.
Ambri Mataj (Albanian Kid)
As far back as 395 AD, when the Roman Empire was being divided up, the region of what, today, is Albania was a border region. Not just politically, but very much culturally: the area had three religions and even three alphabets: Greek, Arab and Latin. This made it an area full of stories; an area that was, and still is, torn apart as to its place in the world.
The story of FALEMINDERIT was related to me by an Albanian historian. It is a story that is told in different ways, sometimes with chocolate or candies and a grateful “Thank you” replied by its recipient, sometimes with coins being thrown into a school courtyard to get children to fight over them. The purpose of this was always to hear the real language spoken to decide the demarcation of the borders. The Balkans are a region that, 100 years after this story took place, still hasn’t found its peace.
However, even more worrying than the regional conflicts are the nationalistic tendencies of today’s politics to which this story holds up a mirror. Voices of populism which were only audible in hushed tones before, have now become acceptable. Nationalistic politicians speak unashamedly of humans as if they were animals.
I greatly enjoyed finding and writing this script, as it fulfils my greatest desire as a filmmaker, to tell layered stories that entertain without the use of violence. I believe that FALEMINDERIT could, in a subtle way, create an interest in history and show the importance of diplomacy and creative solutions in a world that urgently needs them.
Nicolas Neuhold was born in Vienna, Austria and is an Austrian/Luxembourgish filmmaker. He obtained a Masters of Art degree from the University of Bournemouth (UK), and is a graduate of the European Film College in Ebeltoft, Denmark. His short films, documentaries and feature debut “Another One Opens” have had over 200 festival screenings worldwide and won several awards, including the “Bigas Luna Award” for his short film Würstelstand, as well as a “Royal Television Society” best documentary award for his film “Cannes – Through the eyes of the Hunter”.