A project to make the first feature film about the 1999 Kosovo conflict, involving the co-producer of the award-winning 2004 film "Hotel Rwanda," appears to have collapsed amid charges of fraud and corruption.
A producer has been ordered by a court to return 100,000 euros ($125,000) with 20,000 euros interest, while two former culture ministers, Astrit Haraqija and Valton Beqiri, face charges of abusing their positions in signing contracts related to the film and awarding funds for the film without an open tender.
As Balkan Insight
tells the story:
South African filmmaker Cheryl Johnson stumbled across a story in the early 2000s about a young Kosovar, now a restaurant owner in Pristina, his love for food and his relationship with his father as war broke out in Kosovo.
On her return home she turned the story into a script and began working with Morina on turning it into a feature film.
Delphine Depardieu, Gerard Depardieu's niece, agreed to act in the movie, as did two well-known Albanian actors, Luan Jaha and Luisa Xhuvani.
Izidor Codron, South African co-executive producer of "Hotel Rwanda," the award-winning film that shaped the world’s view of the African genocide, was also signed up.
In 2005 Minister Haraqija invited the producers of the movie, which now had the working title of "Guests at the Sofra," to talk about the project.
A contract was signed with the Ministry of Culture in 2007, but the money failed to flow and troubles began.
Five years after the initial agreement was signed, the project had found no other backers and the accusations began flying
The producer, Armond Morina, has denied charges of fraud concerning the Culture Ministry funds, and the former ministers have denied all charges.
Morina and the other accused are expected to appear before a court in Pristina for a decision on whether they will face charges over the incident.