Albanian writer/director Fatmir Koci examines the current troubles of his country in his second dramatic feature, Tirana Year Zero. While it has certain similarities to Roberto Rossellini's neo-realist classic Germany Year Zero -- taking place in what's basically a war zone -- Koci's film is a dark comedy. Koci used a cast of non-actors (including some playing characters based on themselves) and veterans of the Albanian theater. His episodic film follows Niku (Nevin Mecaj), a friendly but rather feckless young man, through a few tumultuous days in 1997. Koci's focus is on the odd ways the Albanians attempt to earn a living, and on the common dream of leaving Albania to achieve fantastic success in other European countries or in America. Koci has, in fact, referred to his film as "a call to the Albanian people not to abandon their native land." Niku is perhaps the only character in the film who willingly chooses to stay in Albania, despite pressure from his pretty girlfriend, Klara (Ermela Teli) to move away with her. When a sculptor offers to take Klara to Paris, where he's having an exhibit, she can't convince Niku to leave, so she goes without him. Niku finds whatever work he can amid the chaos in the country. This usually involves the use of a rickety Chinese truck his father has given to him. At one point, he drives an eccentric German man, Gunter (Lars Rudolph) to the lovely Southern coast of Albania, where Gunter hires him to help him transport one of the thousands of bunkers that line the coast (built by former dictator Enver Hoxha) back to Germany as a souvenir. Niku also drives around a French journalist (Laura Pelerins) who photographs a man chopping down a tree only to find herself threatened by his axe.