Florin Krasniqi was born in Vranoc, Kosovo. He was a teacher in Kosovo when he fled to the US, sneaking into the country from Mexico in the trunk of a white Cadillac on Christmas Eve, 1988. He is currently the owner of Triangle General Contractors, a roofing company in Brooklyn. In 1998-99, he raised $30 million among the Albanian community in the United States for the Kosovo Liberation Army and smuggled hundreds of high-powered American sniper rifles to Kosovo for guerrillas, which were distributed by his extended family clan in the region. He resides in Kensington, Brooklyn with his wife and three children and travels frequently to Kosovo, where he is building a multi-million dollar hydroelectric power plant.
Danusha Krasniqi immigrated to the United States from Poland shortly after Florin. She met Florin in 1990 when she was working as a waitress at a Brooklyn diner and hardly spoke any English. After their first date, Danusha promised she would call Florin, but was too shy to follow through. Instead, she hoped to run into him again by calling the cab company he worked for whenever she needed a ride somewhere. After several months of trying, a cab finally showed up with Florin behind the wheel. The two have been together ever since. They married in 1997 and have three children. Danusha studied hospitality and apart from being a fulltime mother and homemaker, she cooks for the extended Krasniqi clan.
The party in The Brooklyn Connection was planned to celebrate the birth of a first-born son, the most cherished member of an Albanian family.
Xhevdet Krasniqi is Florin’s first cousin. Xhevdet helped Adrian Krasniqi smuggle weapons into Kosovo by building a secret compartment underneath the flatbed of his dump truck, which he would load with wet sand. When he came upon Serb police checkpoints, he would say that he had taken the sand from the river to make cement.
Adrian Krasniqi was one of the founding members of the KLA. He was Florin’s second cousin, though Florin always thought of him as a younger brother. Adrian was an engineering student in Prishtina in 1996 when he lost faith in Kosovo’s pacifist government and joined a cell of the then-underground KLA. He headed up the rebels’ weapons-smuggling operation and was the first guerrilla to die in a KLA uniform.
Egzonjeta Nivokazi is Florin Krasniqi’s niece. She was a toddler during the war in Kosovo and lived through the siege of Vranoc. For several months during the war, she and her family lived in a refugee camp in Kosovo. In 2000, her father (Florin’s brother-in-law) and her older sister, a diabetic, came to the United States. Two years later, she, her mother and her younger brother joined them. Today they all live in Brooklyn, not far from Florin.
Richard Holbrooke, former Under Secretary of State for Europe and former US Ambassador to the United Nations, was a critical figure in the Clinton Administration. Known as one of the country’s top negotiators, Holbrooke brokered the Dayton Peace Accord that ended the Bosnian war. He was also called upon to negotiate a ceasefire between Serbs and Albanians during the war in Kosovo, and was tasked with informing Slobodan Milosevic that NATO would bomb Serbia.
General Wesley Clark, NATO’s former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and former Democratic presidential candidate, planned and executed the alliance’s 78-day bombing campaign over Kosovo. It was the first major military action NATO undertook since the alliance was created a half century earlier. Although highly controversial, the action resulted in Milosevic capitulating and pulling his troops out of Kosovo.
Klaartje Quirijns Director
Klaartje Quirijns grew up in the Netherlands and has worked as a director and producer, for the leading public television stations in the Netherlands (VPRO, IKON and NPS).
Her first film was about life in a maximum-security prison in Rotterdam. Since then, she produced and directed numerous documentaries with various subjects, e.g. about a famous Dutch case of the death of a student in the context of an initiation ritual; about a doctor who was part of the resistance during the second world war and who was appointed as the doctor for the three war criminals, known as “The Breda Three” who was entrusted with assessing whether their health merited their continued imprisonment (the film is now subject of a dissertation in the Netherlands).
The leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad described Quirijns as “one of the few documentary filmmakers who has managed to create cinematic pearls out of the television tap.”
Quirijns moved to New York City in 1999 and has continued to work for Dutch radio and television. She was the first Dutch journalist on Dutch national television and radio to report on September 11.
She produced a documentary about the Brooklyn Dodgers and was creator of a video installation about street kids entitled “Homeless World,” which was exhibited in the modern art museum ‘De Kunsthal’ in Rotterdam.
She is currently working on a feature length documentary about psycho-therapy in New York called “On the Couch” under the aegis of her production company, EyesWideFilms (eyeswidefilms.com).
Martijn ‘t Hart Camera
Martijn ‘t Hart was born in Bogota, Colombia, and grew up in the Netherlands.
He has worked as a filmmaker, cameraman and TV director for the past 20 years in the United States, South and Central America, Canada, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
He was a director for “Stads TV Rotterdam” for 6 years before moving to New York City in 1996.
He was the co-creator and director of “Nova New York,” a weekly series from New York City for Dutch television, which followed the 2004 American elections. In addition to “The Brooklyn Connection,” he worked on “Saxman,” about saxophone player Piet le Blanc.
His work has appeared at The Rotterdam Film Festival, VPRO Dutch TV, PBS, CBS, and stations across Europe. He has worked as a cameraman on numerous programs, including, “Panorama” (BBC), “Focus” (RTL), “60 Minutes” (CBS), and “Liebe An Der Macht” (ARD).
He has been a cameraman for the US Open, Australian Open, and other major sports events as well as breaking news globally. Recent work has brought him to the United Nations, Air Force One, and The Oscars and interviews have included Bill Clinton, Hans Blix and Kofi Annan among others.
Stacy Sullivan Producer
Stacy Sullivan grew up in California and moved to New York City in 1992. She is the author of “Be Not Afraid, for You Have Sons in America,” the book upon which the “The Brooklyn Connection” is based.
The Washington Post described her book as “irresistibly readable,” and said that “The narrative is so strong that you hardly notice that Sullivan's book is deeply serious, historically sophisticated and morally complex.”
She first came into contact with the Albanian community in New York when she was a student at the Columbia journalism school. In 1993 she went to Albania to a group of journalism students start Albania’s first independent newspaper at Tirana University.
From 1995-1997 she was based in Sarajevo, Bosnia, where she covered the Balkans for Newsweek magazine.
She is currently a senior editor at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, a London-based journalism training organization with projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Caucuses, Africa and other regions.
Her articles have appeared in Newsweek, Time, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, New York Magazine, Men’s Journal and the op-ed pages of the New York Times and The Washington Post.
This is her first documentary production.
George Brugmans Executive Producer
George Brugmans is president and CEO of Amago, an independent film and media production company based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Since 1994 Brugmans produced films directed by Mike Figgis (Flamenco Women), by William Forsythe (Way of the Weed), by well known Dutch directors such as Jos de Putter and Rob Schršder, and, most recently, by Klaartje Quirijns (The Brooklyn Connection) and by Polish directors Mariusz Pilis and Marcin Mamon (The Smell of Paradise).
From 1995 till 2002 Brugmans was also commissioning editor for the VPRO, a Dutch public broadcaster. He produced some 200 documentaries for the VPRO, several of which he also directed.
Trained as an historian, Brugmans has build up a deep and extensive expertise as a producer in the arts. He had an international career in the Performing Arts (i.e. as Director of the Springdance Festival in Utrecht, Holland; and as Programming Director of the Summerfestival of Salzburg, Austria, the Encontros Acarte Festival in Lisbon, Portugal, and the Polverigi Festival in Ancona, Italy).
In 1992 Brugmans became the Chairman of Bergen, a Dutch production house for the performing arts and the cinema. The company produced several feature films, amongst other Antonia’s Line (Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, 1995), and shorts such as Bitings and other effects (Golden Calf for Best Dutch Short Film, 1994).
Brugmans has written several scenarios for feature films, i.e. De Wisselwachter/The Pointsman (1986, released in over 75 different countries), De Vliegende Hollander/The Flying Dutchman (1995, released in over 50 countries), and Coppi (1992).
Brugmans currently is an advisor of the Dutch Government as a member of the National Art Council, and of the City of Amsterdam as Vice-President of the Board of Governors of the Amsterdam Art Council.
In 2004 he was also appointed the director of the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, opening on May 26, 2005.
Katharina Wartena Editor
Katharina Wartena was born in the Netherlands and raised in France. She studied at the Netherlands Film and TV Academy in Amsterdam and worked as an editor for five years for Dutch Public Television, VPRO, where she worked on documentaries and feature films.
She currently resides in Paris where she works as an editor and studies anthropology. In addition to ‘The Brooklyn Connection,’ she recently edited a narrative film directed by Nanoek Leopold, which has just selected for the Quinzaine in the Cannes Film festival.
Sabine Kertscher Assistant Editor
Sabine Kertscher was born in Switzerland.
After receiving her MA in music and art history, she studied visual effects at the National Film and TV School in London. In the UK, she was involved in the production of Ridely Scott’s award-winning “Black Hawk Down,” and worked with directors Bruce Beresford, Richard Loncraine and Tim Burton. She moved to New York in 2004 to study with Albert Maysles where she has been assisting Matt Prinzing in editing a film about Christo and Jeanne Claudes Gates’ project.
She also assisted on the Pennebaker-Hegedus/Maysels’ production “National Anthem - Vote for Change”, and is training with Kate Hirson on the upcoming documentary “The Bullrider.”
Robert Poss Sound
Robert Poss has worked on sound for BBC, ARD German Television, PBS, CBC, the Discovery Channel, VPRO, and many others.
His first love, however, is music. He has performed and recorded with Rhys Chatham, Nicolas Collins, Ben Neill, Phill Niblock, David Dramm, Susan Stenger and Bruce Gilbert.
In 1986, he formed the wall-of-guitars group Band of Susans, which Rolling Stone Magazine described as “adamantly arty, brainy, visceral and bracing.” B.O.S. released two EPs and five full-length CDs before disbanding in 1995.
In 2002 Poss released two companion solo CDs, “Distortion Is Truth” and “Crossing Casco Bay” on Trace Elements Records. Of his most recent solo work is “Tape Op Magazine.”
Poss recently began collaborating with choreographer Alexandra Beller, and continues to perform his guitar and electronics pieces in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe.