US / Albanian Sisters in Hollywood a biographical film about Mother Teresa

E shtunë, 13 Prill, 2024
E shtunë, 13 Prill, 2024

US / Albanian Sisters in Hollywood a biographical film about Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa is the most famous Albanian in the world, books have been written about her and the international media has paid attention to her every activity. Even the big screen has narrated in some dimensions the life of the Albanian saint. In 1997 the role of Mother Teresa would be played by Geraldina Chaplin in “Mother Teresa: In the Name of God’s Poor”, in 2003 premiered “Mother Teresa”, a biopic that narrates the life of Mother Teresa from the beginning of her ministry until her death. Then comes “The Letters” (2014), a drama that explores the life of Mother Teresa (Juliet Stevenson) through letters she wrote to her old friend and spiritual advisor, Father Celeste van Exem (Max von Sydow) for a period almost fifty years old. Now it is the turn of the Albanians to tell the story of the saint. This mission has been taken over by two directorial sisters in the USA, founders of the film company “Color Films” Vilma and Greta Zenelaj.

Where did you get this inspiration to write the story of Mother Teresa? Are you influenced by your past?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: We read a lot of biographies, we interviewed some authors and they were all fascinated by Mother Teresa and they all agreed that her family and upbringing were what made that Mother Teresa. A man does not wake up one day, and says ‘Oh, Today, I think I will help the sick and the poor who are dying in the streets of Calcutta’ and succeed. There were many other nuns housed at the Loretto School for Girls. Why was she the only one who left school to help the needy? Here it must be taken into account that this was in 1948.

Mother Teresa was the only one who left Loretto’s order to start the “Missionaries of Charity” alone. She was molded and created with her zeal from her childhood years and the family love she had had. Another thing we had in common with him was that we left Albania for America almost at the same age as him, very young. And at that time, you were not sure if we would see our parents or relatives again, as happened to Mother Teresa. It was a life-changing decision.

 

Were there any obstacles in the development of history and how did you solve it?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: The main thing was to decide which part of her life we ​​wanted to focus on and how much. By focusing and telling the story proportionately, we did not want the scenes and dialogue to be too redundant or too long. So, we made sure that every word, sentence and scene moves the story forward with ease. Knowing when to take history a few years ago was a bit of a challenge, so we limited ourselves to the most important and historical events that were significant to Gonxhe.

Her father was very involved in Albanian politics which was a big part of her family. But we did not want to overemphasize this because Mother Teresa was the opposite of politics. These were the most challenging obstacles, but we like the script and we know it will be a great movie.

Where will the film be shot?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: At the moment it has not been decided yet, but our shooting plans are Skopje and Shkodra, Albania. We filmed Eagle in Albania and really enjoyed that experience, so we are familiar with the process there, but we also want to explore what Skopje has to offer as everything happened there, the birth and growth of Mother Teresa.

 

Do you have a production team ready for the movie Gonxhe?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: We have discussed the scenario with others who want to work together and they have expressed a desire to partner with us. At the moment it is still too early to hire a crew as the decision on the shooting location will also determine the production team. We prefer to work with local talents because they have a strong zeal and dedication. They are always so grateful for the experience and express pleasure to be a part of the film. But we know that filming crews tend to become families during filming, so we look forward to creating this new film family. It will be a new and exciting experience.

 

What will surprise people about this movie?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: Not to tell what would happen in the film, but she went through a lot of hardships as a child and used that experience later because she had already gone through losses and hardships. Fighting, trying was nothing new for Mother Teresa, just a part of life and she saw them not as permanent situations but as something we should all experience.

However, what is most important about difficult situations is how we respond to them and not complain about why they are happening to us. We like her quotes and one of our favorite quotes from Mother Teresa is ‘Do It Anyway’. We encourage everyone to read them. They are divine words.

 

Who should come to see this movie?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: Everyone should come and watch this movie. When we say all, ALL.

 

Which character in this movie are you most associated with?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: Definitely Gonxhe but also Drane, Gonxhe’s mother. Like them, we experienced political unrest in Albania and the uncertainty of the times that prevailed. They were really scary times and many were out of work, hungry and suffering. When you experience these as a child it has a profound impact on you and it is not something easy that you can forget. Of course, this makes you grow faster and create the mechanism of survival. Although we do not know exactly what Gonxhe went through emotionally, we can only imagine and connect through our experiences.

 

Which character do you relate to the least in this film?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: He is an antagonist who is just evil, envy for the Bojaxhiu family, we really without any obvious reason, but just jealousy. Although Bojaxhiu’s family considered him a family friend and helped him, he turns out to be a snake. Certainly, there is no way to explain how certain people do bad things to those they have just shown love to. And this is based on true story.

 

Which movies have been the most inspiring or influential for you and why?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: One of the recent inspirational films we have seen is ‘A beautiful day in the neighbourhood’, the story of Fred Roger. This shows how important it is to forgive to rebuild damaged relationships. It is a pleasure to see the extraordinary effect that Mr. Roger in the lives of many children of that time. It was truly inspiring and a blessing.

 

What makes a fruitful collaboration? What do you do to improve the collaboration process?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: The key word is cooperation, which means a creative partnership and participation. We are pleased when we meet with the heads of departments after they have read the script and take notes to discuss their vision for the film. Sometimes, it is difficult for them to express their creative ideas because they are so accustomed to the demands of producers or directors that they do not want their visions, but simply do what they are told. So, we start with questions to encourage discussions. Once they feel that they can trust us, because it is about faith, many of them open up and display their creative vision, which is very important and rewarding. That is why they are part of the project, to improve our film with their creative vision.

Our goal is for everyone to always communicate how they see this movie, we may not be one in mind every time, but it is good to speak openly. It has been our experience that communication is essential to any collaborative process.

Mother Teresa is the most famous Albanian in the world, books have been written about her and the international media has paid attention to her every activity. Even the big screen has narrated in some dimensions the life of the Albanian saint. In 1997 the role of Mother Teresa would be played by Geraldina Chaplin in “Mother Teresa: In the Name of God’s Poor”, in 2003 premiered “Mother Teresa”, a biopic that narrates the life of Mother Teresa from the beginning of her ministry until her death. Then comes “The Letters” (2014), a drama that explores the life of Mother Teresa (Juliet Stevenson) through letters she wrote to her old friend and spiritual advisor, Father Celeste van Exem (Max von Sydow) for a period almost fifty years old. Now it is the turn of the Albanians to tell the story of the saint. This mission has been taken over by two directorial sisters in the USA, founders of the film company “Color Films” Vilma and Greta Zenelaj.

Where did you get this inspiration to write the story of Mother Teresa? Are you influenced by your past?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: We read a lot of biographies, we interviewed some authors and they were all fascinated by Mother Teresa and they all agreed that her family and upbringing were what made that Mother Teresa. A man does not wake up one day, and says ‘Oh, Today, I think I will help the sick and the poor who are dying in the streets of Calcutta’ and succeed. There were many other nuns housed at the Loretto School for Girls. Why was she the only one who left school to help the needy? Here it must be taken into account that this was in 1948.

Mother Teresa was the only one who left Loretto’s order to start the “Missionaries of Charity” alone. She was molded and created with her zeal from her childhood years and the family love she had had. Another thing we had in common with him was that we left Albania for America almost at the same age as him, very young. And at that time, you were not sure if we would see our parents or relatives again, as happened to Mother Teresa. It was a life-changing decision.

 

Were there any obstacles in the development of history and how did you solve it?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: The main thing was to decide which part of her life we ​​wanted to focus on and how much. By focusing and telling the story proportionately, we did not want the scenes and dialogue to be too redundant or too long. So, we made sure that every word, sentence and scene moves the story forward with ease. Knowing when to take history a few years ago was a bit of a challenge, so we limited ourselves to the most important and historical events that were significant to Gonxhe.

Her father was very involved in Albanian politics which was a big part of her family. But we did not want to overemphasize this because Mother Teresa was the opposite of politics. These were the most challenging obstacles, but we like the script and we know it will be a great movie.

Where will the film be shot?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: At the moment it has not been decided yet, but our shooting plans are Skopje and Shkodra, Albania. We filmed Eagle in Albania and really enjoyed that experience, so we are familiar with the process there, but we also want to explore what Skopje has to offer as everything happened there, the birth and growth of Mother Teresa.

 

Do you have a production team ready for the movie Gonxhe?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: We have discussed the scenario with others who want to work together and they have expressed a desire to partner with us. At the moment it is still too early to hire a crew as the decision on the shooting location will also determine the production team. We prefer to work with local talents because they have a strong zeal and dedication. They are always so grateful for the experience and express pleasure to be a part of the film. But we know that filming crews tend to become families during filming, so we look forward to creating this new film family. It will be a new and exciting experience.

 

What will surprise people about this movie?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: Not to tell what would happen in the film, but she went through a lot of hardships as a child and used that experience later because she had already gone through losses and hardships. Fighting, trying was nothing new for Mother Teresa, just a part of life and she saw them not as permanent situations but as something we should all experience.

However, what is most important about difficult situations is how we respond to them and not complain about why they are happening to us. We like her quotes and one of our favorite quotes from Mother Teresa is ‘Do It Anyway’. We encourage everyone to read them. They are divine words.

 

Who should come to see this movie?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: Everyone should come and watch this movie. When we say all, ALL.

 

Which character in this movie are you most associated with?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: Definitely Gonxhe but also Drane, Gonxhe’s mother. Like them, we experienced political unrest in Albania and the uncertainty of the times that prevailed. They were really scary times and many were out of work, hungry and suffering. When you experience these as a child it has a profound impact on you and it is not something easy that you can forget. Of course, this makes you grow faster and create the mechanism of survival. Although we do not know exactly what Gonxhe went through emotionally, we can only imagine and connect through our experiences.

 

Which character do you relate to the least in this film?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: He is an antagonist who is just evil, envy for the Bojaxhiu family, we really without any obvious reason, but just jealousy. Although Bojaxhiu’s family considered him a family friend and helped him, he turns out to be a snake. Certainly, there is no way to explain how certain people do bad things to those they have just shown love to. And this is based on true story.

 

Which movies have been the most inspiring or influential for you and why?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: One of the recent inspirational films we have seen is ‘A beautiful day in the neighbourhood’, the story of Fred Roger. This shows how important it is to forgive to rebuild damaged relationships. It is a pleasure to see the extraordinary effect that Mr. Roger in the lives of many children of that time. It was truly inspiring and a blessing.

 

What makes a fruitful collaboration? What do you do to improve the collaboration process?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: The key word is cooperation, which means a creative partnership and participation. We are pleased when we meet with the heads of departments after they have read the script and take notes to discuss their vision for the film. Sometimes, it is difficult for them to express their creative ideas because they are so accustomed to the demands of producers or directors that they do not want their visions, but simply do what they are told. So, we start with questions to encourage discussions. Once they feel that they can trust us, because it is about faith, many of them open up and display their creative vision, which is very important and rewarding. That is why they are part of the project, to improve our film with their creative vision.

Our goal is for everyone to always communicate how they see this movie, we may not be one in mind every time, but it is good to speak openly. It has been our experience that communication is essential to any collaborative process.

Mother Teresa is the most famous Albanian in the world, books have been written about her and the international media has paid attention to her every activity. Even the big screen has narrated in some dimensions the life of the Albanian saint. In 1997 the role of Mother Teresa would be played by Geraldina Chaplin in “Mother Teresa: In the Name of God’s Poor”, in 2003 premiered “Mother Teresa”, a biopic that narrates the life of Mother Teresa from the beginning of her ministry until her death. Then comes “The Letters” (2014), a drama that explores the life of Mother Teresa (Juliet Stevenson) through letters she wrote to her old friend and spiritual advisor, Father Celeste van Exem (Max von Sydow) for a period almost fifty years old. Now it is the turn of the Albanians to tell the story of the saint. This mission has been taken over by two directorial sisters in the USA, founders of the film company “Color Films” Vilma and Greta Zenelaj.

Where did you get this inspiration to write the story of Mother Teresa? Are you influenced by your past?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: We read a lot of biographies, we interviewed some authors and they were all fascinated by Mother Teresa and they all agreed that her family and upbringing were what made that Mother Teresa. A man does not wake up one day, and says ‘Oh, Today, I think I will help the sick and the poor who are dying in the streets of Calcutta’ and succeed. There were many other nuns housed at the Loretto School for Girls. Why was she the only one who left school to help the needy? Here it must be taken into account that this was in 1948.

Mother Teresa was the only one who left Loretto’s order to start the “Missionaries of Charity” alone. She was molded and created with her zeal from her childhood years and the family love she had had. Another thing we had in common with him was that we left Albania for America almost at the same age as him, very young. And at that time, you were not sure if we would see our parents or relatives again, as happened to Mother Teresa. It was a life-changing decision.

 

Were there any obstacles in the development of history and how did you solve it?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: The main thing was to decide which part of her life we ​​wanted to focus on and how much. By focusing and telling the story proportionately, we did not want the scenes and dialogue to be too redundant or too long. So, we made sure that every word, sentence and scene moves the story forward with ease. Knowing when to take history a few years ago was a bit of a challenge, so we limited ourselves to the most important and historical events that were significant to Gonxhe.

Her father was very involved in Albanian politics which was a big part of her family. But we did not want to overemphasize this because Mother Teresa was the opposite of politics. These were the most challenging obstacles, but we like the script and we know it will be a great movie.

Where will the film be shot?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: At the moment it has not been decided yet, but our shooting plans are Skopje and Shkodra, Albania. We filmed Eagle in Albania and really enjoyed that experience, so we are familiar with the process there, but we also want to explore what Skopje has to offer as everything happened there, the birth and growth of Mother Teresa.

 

Do you have a production team ready for the movie Gonxhe?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: We have discussed the scenario with others who want to work together and they have expressed a desire to partner with us. At the moment it is still too early to hire a crew as the decision on the shooting location will also determine the production team. We prefer to work with local talents because they have a strong zeal and dedication. They are always so grateful for the experience and express pleasure to be a part of the film. But we know that filming crews tend to become families during filming, so we look forward to creating this new film family. It will be a new and exciting experience.

 

What will surprise people about this movie?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: Not to tell what would happen in the film, but she went through a lot of hardships as a child and used that experience later because she had already gone through losses and hardships. Fighting, trying was nothing new for Mother Teresa, just a part of life and she saw them not as permanent situations but as something we should all experience.

However, what is most important about difficult situations is how we respond to them and not complain about why they are happening to us. We like her quotes and one of our favorite quotes from Mother Teresa is ‘Do It Anyway’. We encourage everyone to read them. They are divine words.

 

Who should come to see this movie?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: Everyone should come and watch this movie. When we say all, ALL.

 

Which character in this movie are you most associated with?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: Definitely Gonxhe but also Drane, Gonxhe’s mother. Like them, we experienced political unrest in Albania and the uncertainty of the times that prevailed. They were really scary times and many were out of work, hungry and suffering. When you experience these as a child it has a profound impact on you and it is not something easy that you can forget. Of course, this makes you grow faster and create the mechanism of survival. Although we do not know exactly what Gonxhe went through emotionally, we can only imagine and connect through our experiences.

 

Which character do you relate to the least in this film?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: He is an antagonist who is just evil, envy for the Bojaxhiu family, we really without any obvious reason, but just jealousy. Although Bojaxhiu’s family considered him a family friend and helped him, he turns out to be a snake. Certainly, there is no way to explain how certain people do bad things to those they have just shown love to. And this is based on true story.

 

Which movies have been the most inspiring or influential for you and why?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: One of the recent inspirational films we have seen is ‘A beautiful day in the neighbourhood’, the story of Fred Roger. This shows how important it is to forgive to rebuild damaged relationships. It is a pleasure to see the extraordinary effect that Mr. Roger in the lives of many children of that time. It was truly inspiring and a blessing.

 

What makes a fruitful collaboration? What do you do to improve the collaboration process?

Vilma and Greta Zenelaj: The key word is cooperation, which means a creative partnership and participation. We are pleased when we meet with the heads of departments after they have read the script and take notes to discuss their vision for the film. Sometimes, it is difficult for them to express their creative ideas because they are so accustomed to the demands of producers or directors that they do not want their visions, but simply do what they are told. So, we start with questions to encourage discussions. Once they feel that they can trust us, because it is about faith, many of them open up and display their creative vision, which is very important and rewarding. That is why they are part of the project, to improve our film with their creative vision.

Our goal is for everyone to always communicate how they see this movie, we may not be one in mind every time, but it is good to speak openly. It has been our experience that communication is essential to any collaborative process.