Volunteers have been considered as one of the main pillars of DokuFest's development for 20 years. The nine days of the activity, which more than 150 volunteers work with dedication for, are a unique experience to them, but also a golden opportunity to get to know each other, to participate and actively contribute to the construction and realization of a cultural and cinematographic event of international interest.
For the DokuFest organizers, the work and contribution of volunteers is one of the most precious values of this festival. They deal with almost every aspect of the festival from logistics, to cinema management, hospitality, media center, and other parts.
One of the volunteers who participated in the early editions of DokuFest is now part of the managing staff. In the capacity of the festival's producer, Alba Çakalli tells her success story from the perspective of a volunteer and activist to being included in the artistic panorama of this festival, a journey that started years ago and continues to day.
"If I remember correctly, the first edition for me as a volunteer was in 2005 or 2006. At that time, for us as kids, it was a privilege to be part of DokuFest. First I worked at the Lumbardhi cinema, and the following year I worked as a volunteer, where our mission was to knock on doors to get signatures for the petition related to the protection of the Lumbardhi cinema, the coordinator was Hajrulla Çeku, who now he is the Minister of Culture," says Çakalli.
According to her, this commitment has resulted in saving the cinema from demolishing. "Even though we were young, we had a sense of activism on how to protect the city and preserve our values. Since then we have developed those feelings and now here we are continuing to implement them."
According to the producer of DokuFest from the point of view of a volunteer, this event is an experience that creates a sense of belonging and all young girls and boys have the opportunity to learn all the steps of organizing quite a complex process, while having fun.
"Based on my experience as a volunteer, what we are trying to do is to teach youngsters at a young age to develop skills and contribute to the organization of a very complex event. It also teaches them a sense of belonging, that you belong to a group that has a great cause, from where a message is conveyed not only regionally, but also globally."
But every year other volunteers come to DokuFest, who want to become part of this team and give their contribution. One of them is Olt Kastrati, 16 years old, who is engaged in the hospitality department. For Olti, the DokuFest experience is a wish that came true.
"This is the first edition for me; I am very excited to be part of the DokuFest team. I grew up watching my cousins volunteering at DokuFest, and that's what drove me to come here. DokuFest is the event that gives flavor to Prizren as the city is filled with people from all over the world and the atmosphere is very lively. I aspire to be an internal part of the team when I'm older."
Volunteers, as in any festival, are there to enjoy the program and celebrate something they love: the film. Their optimism and enthusiasm is also felt by the audience itself, and all these tireless youngsters will be remembered by the staff and the city of Prizren itself for the values and energy they give to every edition of DokuFest. Very special thanks go to all those volunteers, local and international, without whom DokuFest would not have the success it achieved in the region and beyond.
by Pediona Dautaj
Photo Credits: Elmedina Arapi