“AGA’S HOUSE” Variety – Film Review by Jessica Kiang

A punchy, uncompromising drama, set in a remote refuge for women, tells a story of those traditionally underrepresented in Kosovan society.

From the beginning, there’s something disconcerting about the exuberance of Lendita Zeqiraj’s feature debut “Aga’s House.” We’re immediately plunked down into the middle of a circle of women sitting on a remote Kosovan hillside in the sunshine exchanging salty anecdotes while preparing food. They laugh, bicker and throw cruel little jabs at one another, referring to age, attractiveness, sexual experience or lack thereof. But the bawdiness and hilarity feels volatile and precarious, as though it could end at any moment, as though these women, in their exile from society, are living as loudly and brashly as they can to drown out the ticking of the unexploded mine of the past over which they dance. For a film with so much laughter, “Aga’s House” is an intensely uneasy experience.

Four of the women have been living in this so-called “refuge house” for some time: the pretty, flirtatious, unserious Emira (Rozafa Çelaj); her best friend and sparring partner Luma (Adriana Matoshi); Kumrija (Shengyl Ismaili) the careworn mother of 9-year-old boy Aga (Arti Lokaj); and Gjyla (Meliahte Qena) a widow in her 70s who was forced from her family home after her son was killed in the Kosovan war, leaving her with no male relative. To this number is added a fifth, Zdenka (Rebekah Qena), a middle-aged Croatian woman whose arrival is viewed with suspicion by the rest of the gang.

Full Article: @Variety.com

“AGA’S HOUSE” Luxembourg Premiere @ CINEAST Central and Eastern European Film Festival

AGA’S HOUSE” by Lendita Zeqiraj, will have its Luxembourg Premiere at , CINEAST Central and Eastern European Film Festival as part of CINÉSCOPE Program, A selection of the most interesting recent films from across the region of Central and Eastern Europe, to be held from October 3 – 20, 2019 in Luxembourg.

CinEast (ciné-East) − Central and Eastern European Film Festival in Luxembourg, is held annually in October since 2008, with 10,400 festival-goers in 2018, over 65 features and over 50 short films by directors from 20 CEE countries. Around 100 screenings in a dozen cinemas in the city of Luxembourg and other towns, selection of outstanding fiction, documentary and animated films.

Aga’s House – Montenegro Premiere at Seanema Film Festival

AGA’S HOUSE” by Lendita Zeqiraj, will have its Montenegro Premiere at SEANEMA Film Festival, as part of Feature Film Competition Program, to be held from September 18 – 21, 2019 in Ulcinj, Montenegro.

SEANEMA Film Festival aims at becoming an important meeting point for acknowledged and new filmmakers alike from all over the world, who will have the opportunity to promote their work and enjoy themselves, along with a numerous audience, in a dreamy place under the sound of Ionian sea waves.

“Aga’s House” Canadian Premiere @ Calgary International Film Festival

Calgary Official Selection

AGA’S HOUSE” by Lendita Zeqiraj, will have its Canadian Premiere at Calgary International Film Festival, to be held from September 13 – 29, 2019.

This year the Calgary International Film Festival celebrates its 20th Anniversary year and is a 12-day showcase of up to 200 multi-genre feature and short films from Canada and over 50 other countries. The festival hosts gala events, screenings, special presentations, and a Behind the Screen series that emphasizes unique and exciting ways for filmmakers and fans to interact.

With steady growth over the past four years, in 2018 Calgary Film attendance hit over 38,000 attendees, our second-highest attendance in the festival’s nineteen-year history. 

The Calgary International Film Festival is now the largest film festival in Alberta and is the sixth largest in Canada. It is also an Oscar-qualifying festival for short films and was named one of “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” in both 2016 & 2017 by MovieMaker Magazine.

Aga’s House at Manaki Brothers International Cinematographers Film Festival

AGA’S HOUSE” by Lendita Zeqiraj, will have its North Macedonia Premiere at MANAKI BROTHERS International Cinematographers Film Festival, as part of European Cinema Perspectives Program, to be held from September 14 – 21, 2019 in Bitola, North Macedonia.

The International Cinematographers’ Film Festival “MANAKI BROTHERS”, is the first and oldest film festival dedicated to the creativity of cinematographers across the world. It started in 1979 with the initiative of one of the main founders – MFPA/ the Macedonian Film Professionals’ Association. It was also co-organized with the Cinematheque of Macedonia and host-city of Bitola, established in honor and inspired by the abundant photographic/cinematographic opus of the MANAKI brothers: Yanaki (1878-1954) and Milton (1880-1964).

AGA’S HOUSE @ Duhok International Film Festival

AGA’S HOUSE” by Lendita Zeqiraj, will have its Kurdistan Premiere at Duhok International Film Festival, to be held from September 9 – 16, 2019 as part of World Cinema Competition.

Duhok International Film Festival aims to showcase innovative films of high artistic value with a notable handwriting made throughout the world. It shall work as a pinnacle point for all wishing to learn more about the possibilities the Kurdish regions have to offer. Duhok IFF wishes to create an atmosphere of exchange between different cultures and human values. The city becomes an encounter of civilizations, where ancient culture connects with modern culture and the Kurdish film landscape with world cinema. Unique film experiences can be made and people can share their thirst for new discoveries and a passion for cinema in all its diversity.

“AGA’S HOUSE” Film Review by Maja Bogojevic on Camera Lucida

It is this Chantal Akerman-esque film directed by a highly talented female author Lendita Zeqiraj that the former Yugoslav region has long been waiting for. Beautifully filmed, thanks to masterful photography of Sofian El Fani, prevailingly with close-ups, which convey not only the author’s empathy with all her characters, but encourage the viewer also to be in the minds of women and sympathise with them, even when nothing ‘much’ is happening, especially in some of the most memorable scenes of one of the most visually stunning films of the recent Balkan cinema. These extreme close-ups contribute to feeling as close as possible both to the group of women and to the boy, but also underline the existence of three sub-films within a film: The first ‘film’ is about a boy, the second ‘film’ is the women’s different individual stories and the third ‘film’ is a film of close ups, leading the viewers to feel as close as possible to these women before they hear their harrowingly painful stories at the end.

Full Article: @CameraLucida.net

Aga’s house [2019]: ‘KVIFF’ review – The origins of trauma and sin – by: Arman Fatic

Director Zeqiraj, has shown in her previous short films, (that have traveled to more than 300 international festivals),  that her stories focus on wartime, youth and the people living on margins of society. In that sense, “Aga’s House” looks like a culmination of hard work in her fifteen-year-long career.  The film tells stories of women and boy living far away from the world. From the first moment, it is obvious that something is not right, but it’s actually really hard to pinpoint what that certain something is. Relations of women are blurred out, they don’t really resemble one another, with their attitudes and age they also don’t really look they could be in any kind of blood relation.

South-Slavic cinephiles might be able to draw a few parallels with “Snow”, Cannes Critics Week awarded film by Bosnian director Aida Begić and  Golden Berlin Bear awarded film “Esma’s Secret” by Jasmila Žbanić. It’s not far away from the truth, as the faiths and history in a region is similar, so are the films in a certain sense. But what director Zeqiraj brings on a table is a bit more deliberate and deeper story than we had a chance to see so far in a region.

Full Article: @ArmanFatic.com