Robert in New Jersey asks: Krasniqi seemed particularly open in his discussion regarding the Kosovo Liberation Army, which allowed for a great documentary. What particular areas of discussion did Krasniqi avoid? The only time he seemed evasive was when there was discussion on whether he had killed anyone.
Klaartje Quirijns: He didn’t want to talk about the help he got from a “vague” person who helped him to smuggle the weapons to Kosovo. This man, Giles Pace, is described in Stacy’s book, Be Not Afraid, For You Have Sons in America, but Florin was very reluctant to talk about him. This Pace was probably working for US intelligence. And yes, he got very nervous when I asked him the question in the airplane. He still doesn’t like that part in the film: last week he told me that he looks like a criminal there, and that he doesn’t like that scene at all.
J. in California asks: Did Ismail Kadare’s book Elegy for Kosovo inform your musical choices when making this movie? It was great stuff altogether, by the way, thank you for making it.
Quirijns: Florin gave me his favorite music, and I chose the music for the film not only from his selection but also from the music that was on his radio or playing in the house. Some of the songs were created by the band that played during the party in Brooklyn.
D. in Canada asks: Why did you not incorporate some statistics on the effects of Mr. Krasniqi’s guns? You did not mention how many Serbs, neutral Albanians and other minorities have been killed, maimed, intimidated into leaving or “selling” their property, or have disappeared. You did not mention how many were killed, injured or forced from their destroyed homes in March 2004 and how many historical monuments — the existence and age of which put the lie to Mr. K’s claim that Kosovo was/is exclusively Albanian — were destroyed. You didn’t mention that KFOR [NATO Kosovo Force] and UN troops were also, to a lesser extent, targeted. Your question for viewers, whether he is a “terrorist” or a “freedom fighter,” seemed inappropriate since you did not give the viewer enough information with which to form an unbiased opinion. I realize that you had to limit length, focus, etc. but do you not think that by omitting information that could easily have been incorporated in bulletin form you weakened the objectivity of your documentary? By not including important information and by not challenging him with some tough questions you merely provided him with a podium to spread his highly biased opinions, which is really too bad because I do not think that this was what you intended.
Quirijns: I didn’t want to make a documentary with experts and precise numbers. I wanted to make a documentary about Florin Krasniqi. I wanted to make his point of view the center of the documentary. I wanted to show how he used the US as a launching pad to wage war. That was my intention. I think the viewer is intelligent enough to form their own opinion about what he is saying. I gave the most important information about how he did it in the past and by doing that, showed that he is capable of doing it again. And yes, of course, sometimes you want to give more information, but a film is not a book. For more background information, we built our website, thebrooklynconnection.net, and POV’s companion site provides a lot more information. As a documentary filmmaker my ambition and challenge is to visualize something, instead of writing about a phenomenon.
Joe in Indiana asks: Your question was is he a freedom fighter or terrorist? When fighting for our rights, all of us can be categorized as either. Sadly, war is a part of life, and when fighting for your children’s and families’ lives, all is fair. Sadly, fight or perish is the only option for many in 3rd World countries. What would you do and how would you categorize yourself?
Quirijns: This is a really hard question. I grew up with the idea of solving problems in a rational way — don’t hit and don’t fight. But I have never been put in such a position. So my rational mind tells me we should try to solve problems peacefully, but at the same time, I realize that my beliefs have never been challenged in the way Florin has experienced.
Adam in Canada asks: You state that “growing up in the Netherlands I’ve never been part of a… country where I had to fight for my lands.” But surely the Netherlands were occupied by the Nazis during WWII, and there WAS a Dutch resistance movement. Even if you are part of the postwar generation, there should have been enough stories around to give you an inkling of how people felt and reacted to it, wasn’t there? I find it interesting in all of the commentary on your documentary so far, the comments have almost exclusively come from the ethnic groups involved in the struggle, with no broader perspective than that. This excellent documentary could easily have been made about the IRA running arms from America to Ireland… but no one has so much as seen that analogy! And would one call the IRA men freedom fighters or terrorists?
Quirijns: Yes, of course, I grew up with stories of WWII and yes, there was a resistance. And part of my family was Jewish, so this was always of great importance in my life and in my work as well. But it’s hard for me to see the similarity to the conflict in the Balkans, especially in Kosovo, where Serbs and Albanians have fought over land for 600 years. And yes, I totally agree with you that it’s a pity that people continue a war on the website instead of having a dialogue about the conflict or seeing any larger similarities, like with the IRA. Maybe you can start this discussion…
Alex in New Jersey asks: Are you sure that nobody in US State Dept. or CIA knew about activities of your “hero”?
Quirijns: I am sure they did know what was going on. They turned a blind eye, and I even think that at some points they helped him.
Kristina in North Carolina asks: How can you say this is NOT a propaganda film for the Albanians — I don’t know what else one can call it. The future is about pluralism, not nationalism. This film does nothing except stir nationalist fires. I was very distressed by it.
Quirijns: I agree with you: my intention was to make a film about Florin Krasniqi and to tell the story from his point of view. Is he nationalistic? Yes, I think so. Do I agree with his ideas? No, I don’t agree. Is it important to tell his story? Yes, I think so — to solve a problem you have to have insight into the situation. We need to know how frustrated people are with the UN in Kosovo, what they plan to do, if they are capable of “throwing the UN out of Kosovo,” and it’s very naive to close our eyes. I think it’s extremely important to tell stories, even if you don’t agree with the point of view of your characters. And again I think viewers are intelligent enough to form their own opinion.