Burning buildings in a dense fog, a dead horse on a dusty road, people fleeing through harsh mountain landscapes. The opening images of Afterwar come from war-torn Kosovo in 1999. A dark chapter in modern European history draws to a close. After the war, children sell peanuts and cigarettes on the streets of Pristina to survive. They speak directly to us: “I’m only talking to you for one reason: I’m hungry! I’m so hungry I could eat your money!” In a film testimonial created over a period of 15 years, they transform into adults before our eyes. Yet the child still stares back at us from behind the adult gaze. Their everyday struggle for survival has become a struggle to even have a future. Haunted by memories of the past and caught in an uncertain state of limbo, they confront us with their innermost secrets and desires.
Created in a close artistic collaboration with the cast, the film alternates between raw realism, staged performance and an existential meditation on the long-term repercussions of war.
by Birgitte Stærmose
with Gëzim Kelmendi, Xhevahire Abdullahu, Shpresim Azemi, Besnik Hyseni, Luan Jaha
Denmark / Kosovo / Sweden / Finland 2024 Albanian 85’ Colour World premiere | Documentary form


  • Gëzim Kelmendi (Gëzim)
  • Xhevahire Abdullahu (Xheva)
  • Shpresim Azemi (Shpresim)
  • Besnik Hyseni (Besnik)
  • Luan Jaha (Father)


Director Birgitte Stærmose
Screenplay Birgitte Stærmose
Co-Creators Shpresim Azemi, Xhevahire Abdullahu, Gëzim Kelmendi, Besnik Hyseni
Cinematography Marek Septimus Wieser, Troels N'Koya-Jensen
Editing Stefan Sundlöf, Anne Østerud
Music Erik K Skodvin
Sound Design Kristian Selin Eidnes Andersen
Sound Pëllumb Ballata
Line Producer Gazmend Bajri
Producer Lise Lense-Møller
Co-Producers Visar Arifaj, Fredrik Lange, Mark Lwoff, Misha Jaari
Co-Production Kabineti Pristina
Vilda Bomben Film Göteborg
Bufo Helsinki

Birgitte Stærmose

The screenwriter and director’s work was first selected for the Berlinale in 2010 when her short film Out of Love, the precursor to Afterwar, screened in the Generation 14plus competition and recieved a Special Mention. For the past five years, she has been working as a director on international series for HBO, Starz and Netflix. Her most recent feature film, Camino, received its premiere as the closing film of the Göteborg International Film Festival in 2023.


2009 Ønskebørn (Out of Love); short film 2011 Værelse 304 (Room 304) 2017 Darling 2023 Camino 2024 Afterwar; documentary

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2024