#22. Dokufest Kosovo
Our take: It takes some getting to, but folks who've been are talking about their experiences in Prizren, Kosovo. The five year old festival takes place in one of the country's major historical and cultural centers where Dokufest has become a major August event, drawing crowds to its unique outdoor screenings. When we say it's a bit of a journey, we're not talking an hour and a half in a shuttle bus. There's been mention of hair-raising, 2-hour-plus bus rides through the mountains slowed down by road-blocking farm animals and social gatherings. Screens only a handful of US titles in a mix of the best of international docs from the previous year on the circuit.
Selection of US films screened at 2009 festival: FIXER: THE TAKING OF AJMAL NAQSHBANDI, THE WAY WE GET BY, PATTI SMITH DREAM OF LIFE, THE GLASS HOUSE, YOUSSOU NDOUR: I BRING WHAT I LOVE
Our coverage of Dokufest Kosovo here.
Filmmaker: "(Programmer) Veton Nurkollari is wonderful and the whole experience is fantastic. My outdoor screening was accompanied by two fighting tom cats and the call to prayer! Totally recommended Veton is a such a passionate supporter of Docs that his enthusiasm is infectious. The “cinemas” are literally outdoors and the whole atmosphere is great. (Whilst my screening was on tom cats run along the bottom of the screen, and at an opportune moment the local mosque started up with wailing prayers. It was surreal!) Basic hospitality but his warmth and the audiences so make up for it."
Filmmaker: "more an experience than for seeing films. The technical equipment isn't great, so you can't expect great projection; however, the settings of the outdoor cinemas are spectacular. It's a party town and August is wedding season, so don't expect a lot of sleep. The programming is very good - all the highlights from other festivals and some interesting films from the region. I met some really nice people but not an industry festival."
Industry: "Honest to God, I would say it was my best festival experience ever. Part of the festival experience is going to interesting places and for me, this is a town that’s in the south of Kosovo. It’s really young there. Everyone seems to be a volunteer at the festival. They do a lot of outdoor screenings and I remember going to an outdoor screening that was dealing with the very recent past with mass graves and everything. And there’s all these young people there. And you could look up from the screening and see all these bombed out buildings. It’s one of these festivals that’s really relevant. That festival experience is great."