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In the summer of 1999, three weeks after leaving Princeton and three
months after NATO had begun bombing the former Yugoslavia, Hugo Berkeley and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
set off for Kosovo with $800, a pair of cameras (one digital video and one Super 8), to make a documentary
film about young survivors in Pristina. Three years later, they had A Normal Life, which follows
seven ethnic-Albanian Kosovars as they return home from refugee camps in Macedonia and endeavor
to make the most of the first real freedom they’ve ever tasted.

Among the film’s compelling subjects is Kaltrina, who established
Kosovo’s first drug-rehab program at age 18 before enrolling in film school to become a documentarian.
For several of these young people, including aspiring rock star Rrusta and newspaper journalists
Tina and Beni, the media offers the possibility of both self-expression and social change.

The filmmakers clearly have an affinity for their subjects–a
connection that’s deepened when the attacks of September 11, 2001, drive home for these two Americans
the reality of life during wartime. The duo had set out, in part, to live a shoestring adventure,
but they emerge with an appreciation that the calm of “a normal life” is nothing to take for granted.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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