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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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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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