In conversation with Zagreb Dox director Nenad Puhovski


From Kosovo 2.0

Nenad Puhovski’s a busy man. It’s his first time at DokuFest and he’s come here in a dual capacity. He produced Naked Island, which screened at Kino ne Lum on Saturday. He’s also a member of the festival jury. He can’t stay for the entire festival though, in a few days he’ll be making the eight hour drive to Sarajevo where three more of his films are being screened.

As a jury member, I ask, what does he look for in a film? “First, I look for emotions in all movies, regardless of genre. But with documentaries it’s also about topic, so you need to strike a balance between audience interest and the director’s ability to creatively tell a story. But in short, it’s all about emotions.”

For Puhovski, programming a festival is about striking that same balance between artistic merit and audience interest. The trouble arises, he says, “Because some stories are sexy. Ukraine or Syria, for example. So festivals show films that aren’t of the highest artistic standards, just because they are about these topics.”

DokuFest, he tells me, has done a pretty good job of striking the balance between a strong program and a good atmosphere. “There’s a difference between these summer festivals and ones like mine which take place when it’s snowing outside. If something goes wrong here, people are more forgiving, they can go for a coffee or a walk, or go for a party. We don’t have that luxury.”

Although not his first time in Kosovo, it is Puhovski’s first time in Prizren. His impression is that he “can tell the people sitting having coffee are not documentary goers, just ordinary members of the community, which is good. You can also feel people here live for the festival. I think it’s a very good enterprise.”

He worries, though, that DokuFest’s success may be short lived if the festival does not find independent means of funding itself. “I think one should be aware,” he says, “of the fact that places like Prizren and Sarajevo will eventually lose international support. It’s great that the international community is funding this, but one should look ahead when the focus may shift to Kiev, for example, and be aware that the NGOs and festivals may go with it.”

“Whenever politics is involved, it’s tricky,” he says. He worries that the shifting nature of the European Union — “Where you have 20% of the people in the EU parliament who don’t believe in Europe.” — is an indication that things may be changing for the worse.

In the meantime though, Puhovski seems determined to enjoy DokuFest’s “Nice, cosy, relaxed” atmosphere before hopping in the car to Sarajevo.