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Faced with a programme of more than 150 short films and document, Balkan Insight has collected tips from the Kosovo’s leading experts on the silver screen for this year’s Dokufest.
As the eleventh edition of the popular documentary film festival gets ready to opens on Saturday in the historic town of Prizren, we asked five experts what films they won’t be missing over the weeklong event.
Blerta Zeqiri won first prize for the Best International Fiction Prize at the Sundance Film Festival this year. A Kosovar director, he has worked on a number of shorts and feature films that have appeared at many international festivals, including her award-winning film, Kthimi–The Return.
What she will be watching:
1. Chasing Ice [Jeff Orlowski/US, 2011]. This film follows photographer James Balog attempts to collect visual evidence of melting glaciers:
“Chasing Ice is an impressive story about global warming, with extremely beautiful and impressive photography,” she says.
2. Kthimi - The Return [Blerta Zeqiri/ Kosovo, 2011]. A man returns from prison in Serbia to his wife and son. The film will be shown at Cinema Lumbardhi on July 10 at 6pm.
“This Kosovan family story was well received in international festivals round the world. If you are curious, you can see it in the section on ‘Dealing With the Past’.”
3. 1/2 Revolution [Omar Shargawi, Karim El Hakim/Denmark, 2011]. This film shows the revolution that took place, hidden from the world in people’s homes and in the streets of Cairo.
“’1/2 Revolution’ has been a very controversial film in festivals across the world.”
Yll Citaku graduated as a film director from the Academy of Arts at the University of Prishtina. His short film Should I Stay or Should I Go (2001) won Best Film at the first DokuFest in Prizren.
He also directed, among others, Tatita (2005), Move with Me (2007) and Blue Wall Red Door (2009). Beyond the Road was his first feature film.
The Story of Film: An Odyssey [Mark Cousins/BM, 2011]. A 15-hour epic documentary on the complete history of world cinema, it was made over more than five years in six continents, covering 12 decades and thousands of movies.
“This year I will be watching this marathon experience,” Citaku says.
Alban Muja, a visual artist and director, he participated in DokuFest in 2009 with Blue Wall Red Door, as well as participating in other festivals with the film Unplay (Play girl).
1. Special Flight [Fernand Melgar/Switzerland, 2011]. A filmmaker incarcerates himself in the Frambois prison in Geneva, capital of human rights.
“Melgar shows us emotive portraits of rejected asylum seekers and illegal immigrants in Frambois where he is spending time in prison in the centre of Switzerland,” Muja says. “It’s important to see this movie to understand how Switzerland deals with human rights. Among the protagonists in the film is also a Kosovo Albanian asylum seeker.”
2. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present [Matthew Akers/US, 2011]. A film about one of the most compelling artists of our era.
“As my own background is as a visual artist I found it appropriate to propose this film, a portrayal of one of the best known contemporary artists of this region.
“Abramovic is for many synonymous with art from the Balkans, though she is also recognized globally. This film shows how she uses her body as a tool, pushing herself beyond her physical and mental limits, even putting her life in danger for her art.”
3. Long Live The Antipodes! [Viktor Kossakovsky, Germany/ Argentina/The Netherlands/Chile, 2011] Through impressive images, this film presents a series of unexpected antipodes of the earth on earth.
“The director, winner of many prizes as well as being nominated for European Film Academy Documentary 2011 - Prix ARTE, takes us on a unique trip around the globe. His film contains breathtaking images and amazing editing. Kossakovsky asks what the shortest way would be to reach Balsa San Justo in Argentina from the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai. According to the director, this would simply be a straight line through the centre of the earth, as these two countries are antipodes.”
Veton Nurkollari is director of programming for DokuFest, which he co-founded in 2002. He is also the curator of DokuPhoto, an annual showcase of documentary photography that runs alongside the festival. Veton is a member of the advisory board of the Balkan Documentary Center and also member of the selection committee of Cinema Eye Honors, an organization that recognizes and honours exemplary craft in nonfiction filmmaking.
1. Broken Cameras [Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi/ Palestine/France/Israel, 2011]. Five broken cameras – and each with a powerful story to tell.
2. Call Me Kuchu [Katherine Fairfax Wright, Malika Zouhali-Worrall/US, 2012] Gay activist David Kato works in Uganda to free his LGBT men and women friends, or “Kuchus”.
3. Sofia's Last Ambulance [Ilian Metev/Bulgaria/Croatia/Germany, 2012]. A film about an ordinary working day for Dr Krassi and his team working in an ambulance in Sofia.
Samir Karahoda was for five years curator of the short film programme in DokuFest. In 2008 he published a book Train, of photographs of Kosovo’s post-war railways.
1. Frozen Stories [Grzegorz Jaroszuk/Poland, 2011]. The two worst employees of a supermarket have to find the meaning of life in a famous television show.
2. Silent [L. Rezan Yesilbaș/Turkey, 2012]. A Kurdish woman faces troubles visiting her Turkish husband in prison.
3. Einspruch VI – Protestation VI [Rolando Colla/Switzerland, 2012]. A story of exile that ends in the tragic death of an asylum seeker.
For more information visit the Dokufest website.
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