Welcome to DokuFest 2019!August 2, 2019
It is with great pleasure that I bid you welcome to Prizren and to the 18th edition of DokuFest, to the festival we’ve been so tirelessly working on. You’ll find the fruits of nearly a years labour in the pages that follow, in our 2019 programme.
In a year filled with so many extraordinary events; marked by political tensions across the world, growing threats to freedom of press and civil liberties, natural disasters, wildfires, floods and heat waves of a magnitude and scale never seen before, it was nevertheless remarkable to witness people standing up for equality. For the need to take action in order to combat climate change and help those affected.
The fact that many of these things are reflected in our programme should not come as a surprise. Filmmakers, and especially documentary filmmakers, are among the first to react to such events and to return with incredible stories. We’re delighted that a number of the films in this year’s programme does just that.
And when I say they bring back incredible stories, I really mean it! Just like the story of the bravery and endurance in a war-torn Aleppo rarely seen in film. Or stories from a rapidly changing China that are hard to believe and of rock and roll icons of Former Yugoslavia being cool and down to earth. Or the stories of countless immigrants, whether trying to get to Europe or their struggle to adapt once there.
You’ll also find stories about near dead forests full of black birds, as if Hitchcock’s The Birds has made a real-world return. Or an abandoned construction site-turned forest, much to the delight of the children that call this their school. There are films that pose simple questions, like what are your hopes for the future? Or questions to world leaders, like Gorbachev, that brings tears to his eyes. Films about two dogs called Chola and Football, and about one of the greatest footballers of all time, initially worshiped as god then scorned as traitor by his own fans.
There are many more stories and a countless number of great films in this year’s programme. Of course, we are delighted to be able to screen them alongside classics of world cinema, such as Orson Welles’s masterpiece F For Fake or Cleo From 5 to 7 by Agnes Varda.
The festival will pay tribute to Barbara Hammer, Agnes Varda, Jonas Mekas and Dusan Makavejev. Four true giants of cinema who all passed away this year, with screenings of some of their iconic and landmark films.
Films in the Balkan Dox Competition offer a fresh look at documentary production in the region, including a foray into different stylistic waters. We continue to highlight human rights and environmental issues in both the Human Rights and Green Dox competition sections, by showcasing films about some of the most important and hottest topics.
The Short Films Competition once again brings some of the best of the short silver screen; including Oscar, Cannes and Sundance award winning films. Our International Dox Competition section continues to be place of discovery, both for us and our audiences. This year’s selection proves that there are number of great up-and-coming filmmakers working in the field.
Add to this the equally impressive roster of films from our National Competition, as well as a new batch of no less than 18 films from our own Future is Here, Film and Factual Media and Regional Film Lab Active training programs. We have no reason not to be thrilled and enthusiastic about the future of both, filmmaking in Kosovo and of collaboration in the region.
Fact or Fake: Truth on Film is a specially curated film program exploring the notion of Truth, the central theme of the festival, and leads an impressive roster of side bar programs where you’ll be able to find a number of them curated by our collaborators. Such as Ozge Calafato’s Colonial Glitches, Entangled Affairs program, Truth Piercing Stories: Larisa, Handsworth, Orestes, jointly curated by Sezgin Boynik, Nagehan Uskan and Tevfik Rada and Three Films by Sandra Lahire, curated by Elizabeth Dexter.
Some of the most talked about films of the year appear in our celebrated View From the World section, including Oscar winning Free Solo or Berlinale, Sundance and IDFA winners. We have also curated a small delight with our festival favorites; 11 short films tackling isolation and ever growing dependence on modern technology in a program called Age of Distortion.
We are thrilled for a number of special screenings at the festival. One being Shkrepëtima, a video recording of live performance art by one of Kosovo’s most acclaimed contemporary artists Petrit Halilaj. Or a screening of the BBC’s 1992 documentary Forgiving the Blood. And In Between, Samir Karahoda’s short documentary, Kosovo’ first ever entry into Berlinale competition!
We are happy to continue our collaboration with the European Film Academy in bringing, for the seventh consecutive year, the EFA Short Matters to DokuFest. We’re equally happy to welcome back our partner festivals from the North South Documentary Network, AmDocs from Palm Springs (California) and DocsMX from Mexico City with their respective selections, thus offering a window through which to glimpse new films coming from the USA and Mexico.
Continuing our collaboration with Gjirafa Video, we’re offering a fresh selection of exciting VR. This includes the inaugural narrative VR piece at Dokufest. Our young(er) audiences will enjoy our largest DokuKids program to date, with nearly 50 films to choose from.
We invite you to experience all of this, with the hope that by doing so you will be rewarded as much as we were while preparing it.
Our heartfelt gratitude goes to all of the extraordinary people that have made this beautiful journey and this dream of ours possible. To our generous sponsors, our partners, the fantastic team and wonderful volunteers. And to the filmmakers who shared their films with us, this festival would not be possible without you!