The stage at the Lumbardhi Bahçe cinema on Saturday night belonged to members of the table tennis club “Lidhja e Prizrenit”, who for a few minutes showed their skills. At this stage the visual story on their vicissitudes for several years to obtain a place to train on a daily basis was revealed at the local premiere of the film “Displaced” by director Samir Karahoda. The screening of this film has brought touching moments to the audience, which has shared the difficult conditions of the athletes, who still do not give up their dream to compete and succeed. There have even been requests for similar films to be made for other sports, which have a similar fate.
Carrying the ping-pong table by the main protagonists of the film, Jeton Mazreku and Ermegan Kazazi, as well as the services of the coach Rifat Rifati for the members of the club “Lidhja e Prizrenit”, have recreated some of the scenes from the film “Displaced”, which has been recorded as the first film from Kosova to enter the official competition of the Cannes Film Festival, from where it received the nomination to be the candidate of this renowned festival for the “European Film Awards”, also known as the “European Oscar”.
Karahoda’s film presents the real story of many difficulties of the activity of the table tennis club “Lidhja e Prizrenit”, which is also an indicator of the challenges faced by young talents across Kosova, lacking the infrastructure and proper support from the institutions. This is also reflected in the dialogue between the main characters of the film, one of them constantly being judged for having returned from Germany to live, work, and compete in Kosova. Despite this, Jeton does not give up, but he is still committed to his club, even with the intention that one of his teammates to be qualified for the most culminating competitions. But Ermegan reminds him of the reality they face: “Japan what, when we cannot exercise properly and the school principal changes the padlock, and we want to compete with the world? Just imagine, we are the best team in Kosova and we wander like a ping pong ball, and we play in wedding halls “, says Kazazi, in the epilogue of the film; instantly receiving the sympathy of the audience.
In the Q&A held after the screening of the film, director Karahoda has stated how he has become familiar with this story since 2004. “I believe you liked the film, but you also felt bad. We have seen how many talents this country has. This film is dedicated to all talents of Kosova. My son is one of the talents who play in Prishtina, and who cannot play in winter because there is no place for him. This has been an additional reason to touch on this topic. As a parent, I cannot accept that our children grow up like this, so all I could do for them was this film”, he said, adding that the story is 100% true and that it has been worked carefully on. “There are even worse things that have not been put in the film. Because of the country’s image, I did not want to publish them,” said Karahoda.
According to him, corruption has hampered the achievements in sport of Kosovar talents. On this occasion, he mentioned the two Olympic gold medals won by judokas Distria Krasniqi and Nora Gjakova.
“I want to be a little harsh, because our souls really hurt until we shot the film, when we saw the conditions. If so much money had not been stolen, we would surely have some 300 halls and some 12 medals”, claimed Karahoda.
The coach Rifat Rifati, claims that after the successes achieved, they expected a reward, and it came in the form of displacing them from where the Prizren table tennis players trained. “For me it was a pain, a serious condition, I was touched in my heart and my soul, but I did not give up ... These children have given me the strength and will to do this sport properly,” he says. Ermegan Kazazi has admitted that he never thought he would play in a film, but expressed his gratitude for the director’s work, which has brought pride to all.
The producer of the film, Eroll Bilibani said that the completion of this project has not been easy, also due to the fact that the delays in payments have come as a result of bureaucracy within cultural institutions, in which case the obligations have been fulfilled only after the confirmation that the world premiere of the film will be in Cannes.
At the very end of this premiere, the local authorities have made a commitment that the table tennis players from “Displaced” will become “Placed”.
The film “Displaced” is the second film made by Karahoda. His documentary “In between” last year placed for the first time the name of Kosova in the official competition of “Berlinale”.