Fatos Lajci’s brother gave his life for a free Kosovo. Now Fatos finds himself fighting a seemingly indifferent country that is cutting down all that he holds dear. In “Lone Wolf,” Fatos is indeed very much alone as he struggles to save the forests in his ancestral homeland of Rugova, a mountainous region in western Kosovo.
“Rugova is destroyed …. Thanks to the Kosovar Forestry Agency,” Fatos laments. “I am not sure I should continue like this or not since no one cares.”
Fatos easily falls into the category of outlier: an eccentric conservationist in a country whose people take little interest in nature. But filmmaker Antoneta Kastrati, whose expansive shots of Rugova’s rugged landscape overflow with Fatos’ loneliness, also manages to show him as very emblematic of Kosovo’s growing pains.
A desire to preserve the natural world of Kosovo makes Fatos an eager participant in shaping the new state’s future. Still, Fatos also feels disconnected and betrayed by the government and its institutions to the point that he seems to regret their existence.
The mountain man finds respite in retreats to Rugova’s unforgiving, snowy peaks to face a more basic struggle. “Ten years ago, we lived under the regime, under the war; you felt yourself more alive; it was more about survival,” he says. “When I’m faced with the storms, the ice, it makes me feel I am alive.”