Despite all the challenges and trouble that constructing a virtual reality could bring, DokuFest’s special 19th edition, held from the 7th of August until the 25th of August, came to an end. It was a common decision took among different film festivals in Europe and beyond to shift from physical organization to a virtual one, in order to preserve the efforts that had been put up to the point of the pandemic outbreak. However, considering the Balkans’ particular issues, finding ways to touch the audience from a distance while properly conveying DokuFest’s own principles, identity and quality seemed like an almost impossible endeavor.
At the heart of all efforts taken to overcome difficulties, what especially stood out was the special agenda prepared with a lot of concern and affection: Film screenings (including competitions and special screenings), DokuTalks, DokuNights (baptized as Sonic Transmissions), DokuTech were all part of this 19th edition, even though altered in a way to adapt to the new world of Zoom meetings and live-streaming. Under the theme of “Transmission”, the team’s intention was to stimulate the audience as to question itself and its surrounding in relation to the notions of transformation (physical to virtual, alone to together) and transition (the time it takes to go somewhere).
In these troubled times, it was comforting to take little efforts for creating a corner in the house where one could find a good company through excellent movies, performances, and discussions. Even though the connection had to be kept in distance, unexpected details showed once again that with DokuFest, it is always a two-way street: From festival’s friends helping to put together activities from different coins of Europe, to DokuHome, and local bars organizing shared screenings, the 18 days of the festival felt like a love letter going back and forth, reassuring from both sides that better days are coming.
Beware, the signal for this live transmission is interrupted. In the meantime, instead of killing time, do not forget there is always the possibility to dance to the radio until next year!
By Enxhi Noni