First UK-Albania co-production now shooting

// 13th of August, 2013
Amsterdam Express

Amsterdam Express

The UK’s Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) pact with Albania’s Act Triangle Productions (ATP) and the Netherland’s Popov Film, on Fatmir Koci’s Amsterdam Express - the first ever  UK-Albania co-production.

Mike Downey and Sam Taylor’s London-based production outfit Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) have joined forces with Tirana’s leading production house Act Triangle Productions (ATP), Rotterdam’s Popov Film and Germany’s Lara film to produce Amsterdam Express the fourth feature of acclaimed Albanian director Fatmir Koci as a UK-Albania-Netherlands-Germany co-production.

The film, which has just completed the first part of its 6 week shoot in Amsterdam, moves now to Tirana to complete shooting.  The film will wrap on August 23rd and move back to post in Amsterdam in September.

Amsterdam Express tells the story of a young Albanian emigrant in Amsterdam who is seduced by the promises and allure of the big wealthy metropolis and who meanwhile falls victim to the threats of ruthless drug and sex slave traffickers.  Meanwhile his marriage of convenience with a beautiful Dutch girl, and a true love in his poor and backward country don’t make his life any easier.

Aside from Downey and Taylor, the film is produced by Xhevdet Feri, and Blerim Destani in co-production with Dragan Bakema and Kuba Szutkowski with Fatmir Koci acting as executive producer.  Amsterdam Express was written by Koci in collaboration with UK writer Jonathan Preece.  Key financing has come from the Albanian Film Centre as well as equity investments from each of the co-producers.

"I first met Fatmir at a festival in the South of France in 1995," says F&ME’s Mike Downey, "and then again at the Imaginary Academy in Groznjan in 1999 where he made some brilliant documentaries. We agreed then that we would try to work together on something and Amsterdam Express is the result! Fatmir’s three previous films  are all perceptive, intelligent and powerful pieces, and the screenplay of Amsterdam Express is no exception.  The material we have to date is impressive, cohesive and full of  promise."

With a mixed Dutch cast and Albanian cast, Amsterdam Express explores the dark underbelly of the Albanian community living in Amsterdam and stars in the lead role of Bekim,  Blerim Destani (Time of the Comet, Dossier K) James Biberi, (Analyze That, Drive, Dead Man Down) as Van Doom, with other parts played by Flonja Kodheli, Carolien Spoor, Natasha Goulden, Rajmonda Bulku (Tirana Year Zero), Bujar Lako, Renne Gjoni and Olta Gixhari.

"Having made a period piece by our leading national author, Ismael Kadare, as my last film," says director Koci, "I wanted to make a contemporary love story.  But a love story made complicated by the social conditions of our young people in Albania and what they are forced to do sometimes simply to survive in a world where survival is getting harder and harder."

The producers are currently awaiting a cut to show to sales agents and the aim is to have the film ready to screen in Berlin 2013.

"Albanian cinema has long been in a stagnant mode," says F&ME’s Downey, "we hope that with Amsterdam Express, Koci’s undeniable talent can give a boost to a film industry which has lingered far too long in the doldrums."


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