Nina Ljeti is a Bosnian-Canadian writer/director, and musician. She is a graduate of the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Drama and Theatre Studies. Her first feature film, Memoria, an effort she wrote and directed with her collaborator Vladimir de Fontenay, had its World Premiere at the 2015 Austin Film Festival. Memoria will have its theatrical release in April 2016. Memoria stars James Franco, Thomas Mann and Keith Stanfield. Ljeti is currently adapting a biopic on Jerry Garcia and the early days of The Grateful Dead. She will be directing the film in Summer 2017, with Rabbit Bandini serving as executive producer. Ljeti is also the lyricist/vocalist for Nani, a manic-wave rock band based in Los Angeles, CA. Nani’s EP is due out later this year.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned? So far, the most important thing I’ve learned is to trust your vision. No one knows your story or your characters better than you. At that same time though, you really have to invest yourself in your work to allow your story to reach its full potential. The story you’re writing should consume you. Also- never write a script because you think it will ‘sell.’ It never ends well. I have yet to meet a screenwriter who sold a script they wrote for this reason. And it kills your soul. Why waste time doing something like that?
Do you have a favorite or memorable experience at Austin Film Festival? After our first Memoria screening, I met two local filmmakers, David McCaw and Ericka Desouza. They were secretly filming some of the young actors from Memoria before, during and after our world premier. A month later, they sent me this beautiful, intimate video they made of the Memoria cast hanging out in Austin. I loved it. It totally summed up my feelings towards the city and the film festival itself. Austin is inviting, inspiring, and overflowing with creativity and art that I can never get enough of. I can’t wait to go back.