10/08/2021

A public talk held yesterday about Kosovo’s New Wave Cinema where Blerta Basholli, Samir Karahoda, Wouter Jansen and Brigid O’Shea moderated by Neil Young weighed in on how to celebrate the success and the problems facing cinematography in Kosovo.

Future holds a lot at stake for Kosovo’s cinema. Filmmakers are challenging the quasi-non-existent infrastructure while building one of their own, in their own terms. Juggling with financial problems, the never resting passion to share their stories with the world, the need of international recognition and establishing a healthy environment for filmmakers and film in Kosovo, were a few of the main subjects discussed yesterday at Shani Efendi.

DokuFest’s contributions to build an environment where films can happen were mentioned throughout the talk. Samir Karahoda and Blerta Basholli talked about their experience with their own feature films and how this organization brought a new light how to better manage creating their films and getting international recognition.

Blerta Basholli while talking about her own experience as a filmmaker said: ‘’Working hard and making a film that is true to yourself it is challenging, but you can make it from here (Kosovo) as well. That was the beginning of the wave. It was only then when I realised that it doesn’t matter where you are if that’s Kosovo or any other country, if you really love this and if you really want to make a film you can make it no matter what. It is not easy to make film anywhere in the world, in any country but especially in a country where is not enough budget or crew or not even facilities to make the film. Film after film motivated us to do this.’’

When asked about if this year it’s the peak of success and should it be celebrated or not Blerta Basholli says: “It must be celebrated in a way, I really hope the success will expand in other years. This (industry) is only going to grow and hopefully we will be represented in many festivals. We are in a weird situation when the filmmakers are pushing more for financial benefits than the government because that is our basic funding place.”

Samir Karahoda who’s feature film made its debut last week at DokuFest after being screened at Cannes Film Festival went more in depth and explaining how mush the Kosovar film scene has done in these last few years regardless of its late and humble start.

Furthermore, Karahoda said: “Being part of this film festival has helped a lot of us, especially the Kosovo filmmakers who for the first time were shown here in DokuFest. I know that young people don’t know this but for more than 15 years was not possible to do films and the first feature film in Kosovo was shot after the year 2000. There was a difficulty working professionally and after few years Dokufest started to challenge this system by developing gradually.”

Karahoda expressed the necessity to have a more open view and more inclusive approaches to welcome everyone who has the will and desire to work on films. He shares a little bit of his experience when he first presented films in international scenes. “We must be open because the talent lies everywhere. Maybe you can be scared, for example with my two first films I was not confident and there is a long way ahead to do better things.”

After the insightful perspective of Basholli and Karahoda, Neil Young asked Brigid O’Shea to get an international perspective on Kosovo’s new wave cinema.

Brigid says: “I should start with advocacy: how do we encourage governments or people in high position power to change their policies or develop their policies agilely with time. Because times are changing and filmmakers to. No film funding system can survive in the shape for 20 years, because films are made differently now, the way we watch films has changed and tastes have changed. The internet has changed everything. I work mostly in advocacy and what I have come to realise now through the lobby is that we have to be on the same page because we are all fighting for the same thing: to make more and better films and to have those films seen by more audiences and even better audiences.”

Then O’Shea highlights the positions in which filmmakers are now in Kosovo and the challenges they are facing: “I also really admire you guys; it is impossible to live in a vacuum of being apolitical about these things but to have the double role of being creative people that are changing the face of European cinema and advocating for your films is really tricky work. This is where the international recognition come in handy because we strengthen through co-production. The question equity is important. We must remember that the world is not based on meritocracy. Not always the best films get the best recognition. It is mostly the most financially powered films that get the most recognition.”

Wouter Jansen, an Oscar film selector weighed on this matter on how Kosovo’s cinematography should also make a step of showcasing movies outside the veil of the international recognition.

Jansen said: “I really like talking about waves, the Romanian new wave a clear one was and maybe it has happened the same as in Greece but these movements were carried on by people of the same age. If I look now at the film you mentioned in Kosovo it’s interesting to see that the directors are form different age groups and experience. This is a good year for Kosovo, and I don’t know any country besides France that is featured in any major film festivals as excessively as Kosovo. There is a risk of giving too much emphasis on only when you are successful when you go to Sundance because we were talking before what if there is good film shown here that doesn’t partake in major film festivals would you have the same kind of exposure like being selected there. Now its so much more on how you translate this success in a kind of in infrastructure where you can nourish talent from this gained experience.”

This public talk was a perfect sum of the main issues facing cinematography in Kosovo and how realistically can this industry develop and maintain the same success it experienced this year.

Other public talks will be held during this week at DokuFest so stay tuned and look up at the program so you can be part of this medium where ideas are exchanged while getting a better understanding of these experiences.