Në Mes (In Between, Samir Karahoda, 2019)

My op-ed spoke to the prowess of Kosovar film-going and filmmaking that we see embodied at DokuFest. To re-cap for those that missed it: the Kosovar war ended in 1999. DokuFest was established in 2002, in a city without a cinema. The nation-state of Kosovo, as we know it, was established in 2008. DokuFest opened DokuKino in 2014. Then earlier this year, DokuFest Short Film Programmer Samir Karahoda was responsible for Kosovo’s first ever film to be featured at the Berlinale.

Në Mes (In Between, Samir Karahoda, 2019) is a film about vacant space. Karahoda profiles five Kosovar Albanian families. In line with tradition, as the children move into adulthood, daughters will move in with their partners. Sons will have the families’ assets divided equally among them, which is materialised in the construction of identical houses for each son on the same plot of land. Beyond the practicality of a house, this strict control of space is intended to keep the family close. But the struggling local economy compels most sons to move abroad, meaning they live anywhere, except Kosovo.

What Karahoda reveals is the space in between: in between cultures, in between loss and eventual return. How do we define home, when that house is empty? What does community look like, when those that constitute it are not around? It’s a very regionally specific premise, but what emerges is universal: the pursuit of harmony within a family unit, and the obstacles the world puts in between the dream and the reality. Only weddings and funerals bring the families together.

Karahoda’s background in still photography is evident in his sophisticated shot composition. From a very steady camera, he presses record and lets the images flow from one unto another. Through working with Karahoda, I know he’s a very modest man. The film is about as quiet as he is, but there’s an elegance in his minimalism as he captures the beauty and sadness of a landscape moulded by absence and identity.

Special screening at Kino Lumbardhi, on August 09 starting from 20:15.

Samir Karahoda will be present for post-film Q&A.