Official name: Kosovo
GDP in EURO per capita€ $3,863
Time zone: CET (UTC+1)
Calling code: +383
The KCC ( Kosova Cinematography Center ) was established in 2004 as a public funding body and central authority for cinematography in charge of developing the film industry in Kosovo. Kosovo has registered 65 production companies and has a union of film artists with 200 members. Its international film festivals have already established a respectable name for themselves on the regional and international industry map.
With various activities, KCC is continuously striving to put the Kosovar film industry on the international radar in order to receive broader recognition for the nations films and filmmakers. KCC is present at the European Film Market in Berlin and the Village International in Cannes as well as at various other European film markets and festivals. Besides promoting new feature, animation and documentary films internationally, KCC enables filmmakers from Kosovo to visit international film events. Moreover, KCC encourages interested foreign production companies in co-producing with Kosovo and supports the local film production financially as well as facilitating the national development of film distribution and education.
Cinematography in Kosovo in the Albanian language began its activities after the foundation of Kosovafilm which produced short movies, documentaries, cartoons and later feature movies. Since 2008, the central authority for cinematography in Kosovo is Kosova's Cinematography Center (KCC) though there are numerous independent film companies active in Kosovo.
Pristina’s fast-growing film festival kicks off this month, but industry insiders complain that despite such events cinematography in Kosovo continues to underperform. Kosovo scored one of its first feature film successes this year when Donkeys of the Border scooped a prize at the Festival of Eastern Europe in Paris this April. The film, which recounts the year that Albanian communities near the Yugoslav-Albanian border were divided, used its 250,000-euro grant from the Kosovo Cinematography Centre in 2008 to good effect. But filmmakers in Kosovo complain that too little money is made available to invigorate the industry and some international experts question the technical abilities of local directors. Donkeys of the Border director Jeton Neziraj said the film’s award “proves that Kosovo cinematography has international value…[and] will continue to demonstrate its value with other performances in the international market”. Vjosa Berisha, manager of the Pristina Film Festival, which runs from September 24 to October 1, is also optimistic about the future of film in Kosovo. “This festival shows that Kosovo cinematography is going forward and developing,” she said. “We are in contact with a lot of movie industries internationally so we hope and try to promote more Kosovo films throughout the world.” But not everyone is so optimist. Kosovo filmmaker Dhimitri Ismailaj, who lives and makes movies in the US, is dismissive of his fellow countrymen’s abilities. “With a good scenario a good filmmaker can raise funds,” he said. “Unfortunately what we get in Kosovo is films with unpleasant topics, weak scripts and technical errors.” Croatian director Stjepan Hundic is also critical. In an interview with the Pristina daily Zeri he said that Kosovo cinematography was still at an early stage of development. “I know they have problems with funding and with a lack of support from the ministry… but they would probably get funds if they prioritised good ideas,” he said. Government support for the film industry comes entirely through the Kosovo Cinematographic Centre, which can offer up to 51 per cent of the total costs of a production. It runs on a budget of 400,000 euro a year. In practice, this means that the KCC can finance only one feature film per year and up to three shorter films. Kosovo filmmaker Halil Budakova is known for his action movies, which are popular with cinemagoers but have garnered poor reviews from critics. His latest gun-toting, Ottoman based oeuvre about the Albanian historical figure Azem Bejta was no different. He said he raised the 450,000 euro for the film on his own. “The money for this film was collected through various companies,” he said. “The Kosovo Cinematographic Centre didn’t help me for this, or any other film I’ve done.” According to the manager of Kino ABC, the country’s only fulltime functioning cinema, Albanianlanguage films are popular with cinemagoers. “I can’t say that the public doesn’t want Kosovo films because when we show those movies we get many visitors,” ABC manager Milazim Salihu said. But local films do not have the same draw as international movies, with their huge budgets, up-to-date special effects and famous stars, he added. Kosovo filmmakers have barely cooperated with foreign partners or funders till now, although there are signs that this is changing. Arben Kastrati, director of Our Love, a film based on a true, postwar story, says he secured part of the money needed for the movie from France and Holland. “But the KCC has never supported me over any of my movies, so I’m disappointed with them,” he said. “This time I hope they will help me as it’s the first time that [a director from] Kosovo is making a film together with foreign companies,” Kastrati added. Arzana Kraja, a young filmmaker who has made some short films with help from the KCC says the KCC is not to blame. “The KCC should have a bigger budget so they can fund more than just one feature film per year,” she said. Artan Minarolli, a former director of the KCC, agrees that Kosovo filmmakers need more financial support. The 400,000 euro that the Ministry of Culture gives the KCC is insufficient, he says. But Minarolli also believes that filmmakers need to move away from the war themes that have been so prevalent in recent years. “Almost all the movies made in Kosovo in last 12 years have been about the war in Kosovo,” he said. “We should look at other topics because the public needs change.” This year, the KCC has yet to select which feature length film it wishes to support. Arben Zharku, chair of the board, says 48 projects are competing for funds. Once again, this year it will not be possible to fund more than one feature film. “Our goal is to increase the KCC budget next year, and our other goal is to be more active in placing Kosovo films in prestigious festivals round the world,” Zharku said. Shasivar Haxhiaj, from the Ministry of Culture, acknowledges that the ministry does not give the KCC enough money, but says that in today’s straightened circumstances there is no plan to change this imminently. “I hope that the KCC budget will grow from year to year and that in the future Kosovo cinematography will become richer,” Haxhiaj said.
By 1937 on the territory of modern-day Kosovo (then within the Kingdom of Yugoslavia), there were seven operating cinemas. There was one per town, located inPristina, Prizren, Kosovska Mitrovica, Gnjulane, Urosevac, Dakovica and Pec. Cinematography in the former Yugoslavia after World War II, was developed in accordance with the criteria of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. Every republic in SFR Yugoslavia had centres of cinematography, so Kosovo not being a republic had access to these centres only through Belgrade to participate in documentary film production, artistic play and education framework for cinematography. With the formation of the cultural centre began Albanian-language cinematography in Kosovo. The first artistic film was realised in 1955, Esalon doktora M. but the first movie in Albanian was Uka i Bjeshkeve te Nemura. This film is about Uka, who is an old Albanian that lives in the mountains on the border of Yugoslavia (Kosovo) and Albania. As an honorable man, he must deal with his son who befriended Italian fascists during World War II. Era dhe lisi is the first completely Kosovar production movie.
The Kosovo film industry dates from the 1970s. On 20 February 1969, the parliament of Kosovo established Kosovafilm, a state institution for the production, distribution and showing of films. Its initial director was the actor Abdurrahman Shala, followed by writer and noted poet Azem Shkreli, under whose direction the most successful films were produced. Subsequent directors of Kosovafilm were Xhevar Qorraj, Ekrem Kryeziu and Gani Mehmetaj. After producing seventeen feature films, numerous short films and documentaries, the institution was taken over by the Serbian authorities in 1990 and dissolved. Kosovafilm was reestablished after Yugoslav withdrawal from the region in June 1999 and has since been endeavoring to revive the film industry in Kosovo.
Kosovafilm produced eight feature films in BCS, mostly partisan war films, many of which were in collaboration with Filmske Novosti and Avala Film of Belgrade. Its first Albanian-language production was the film Kur pranvera vonohet (When Spring Comes Late), premiered on 12 July 1979 and was directed by Ekrem Kryeziu and was based on Fadil Hoxha's partisan diary. Perhaps the best known, and last of the nine Albanian-language feature films of the period, was Rojet e mjegulles (The Keepers of the Fog), premiered on 15 June 1988. It was also directed by lsa Qosja and starred Xhevat Qorraj, Enver Petrovci, Florie Siarina and Cun Lajçi .
Bekim Fehmiu was born on 1 June 1936 in Sarajevo. He was an ethnic Albanian and his family moved to the Kosovo region, where, as a 20-year-old amateur boxer and manual worker. His big break was the 1967 film I Even Met Happy Gupsies, a subtle portrayal of Roma life which won two awards in Cannes and was nominated for an Oscar.In 1974 Fehmiu appeared in the tile role The Adventures of Ulysses, with Irene Papas as Penelope, and in John Frankenheimer's Black Sunday (1977) he played a Palestinian terrorist alongside Robert Shaw and Marthe Keller. The New York Times dubbed him the "Yugoslav heart-throb" for his youthful conquests and acquaintances with the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Ava Gardner. Decades after his last appearance on the screen, readers of a leading Italian women's magazine voted him one of the ten most attractive men of the 20th century. He committed suicide in his Belgrade apartment on 15 June 2010. According to his last wish, Bekim Fehmiu's ashes were scattered across the river Bistrica near his hometown of Prizren.
Faruk Begolli was the most famous Kosovo Albanian actor and director in Yugoslavia (along with Bekim Fehmiu). He attended high school in Pristina and completed the academy of film in Belgrade (1966). Begolli played in more than 60 films, starting with Veljko Bulajić's Pogled u zenicu Sunca (1966). He cooperated with director Puriša Đorđević in his films Podne (Noon), Jutro (The Morning), and San (The Dream). In the late 1980s, Begolli returned from Belgrade to Kosovo, where he worked at the University of Pristina as a professor at the Faculty of Drama. His last lead role was in Ekrem Kryeziu's Dashuria e Bjeshkeve te Nemuna (Love in the Damned Mountain), and his last piece was Etjet e Kosoves (Kosovo: Desperate Search), where he was also a co-scenarist. He died in 2007, after a long battle with cancer.
Arta Dobroshi is famous with her role in the screen drama Lorna’s Silence (winner of Best Screenplay at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival). This young actress achieved her international breakthrough and a nomination for the 2008 European Film Awards. Born in Pristina, she has played many stage roles in her country, as well as a leading role in the prize-winning German-Albanian production Magic Eye (2005), a film about the situation in Albania in 1997, when it was rocked by unrest. She starred in these movies: Three Worlds(2012), Late Bloomers(2011), Baby (II)(2010), Lorna's Silence (2008), The Sadness of Mrs. Snajdrova(2008), Magic Eye (2005).
The International Documentary and Short Film Festival, is the largest film event in Kosovo. The Festival is organized in August in Prizren which attracts numerous international and regional artists. In this annually organized festival films are screened twice a day in three open air cinemas as well as in two regular cinemas. Except for its films, the festival is also well known for lively nights after the screening. Various events happen within the scope of the festival: workshops, DokuPhoto exhibitions, festival camping, concerts, which altogether turn the city into a charming place to be.In 2010 Dokufest was voted as one of the 25 best international documentary festivals.In 2010 Dokufest was voted as one of the 25 best international documentary festivals.
The Rolling Film Festivals have become Kosovo’s event for introducing other Kosovar communities to the Roma community, for supporting Romani artistic expression, and for providing a venue for combating stereotypes and promoting positive inter-ethnic relations. Kosovo has an Action Plan for integration of Roma in national life, including culture. The project will seek MOUs with appropriate government agencies recognizing this program as an aspect of the Action Plan, and support for the project in approach to schools and community venues. European goals, as embodied in European level and national action plans, and in the Decade of Roma Inclusion, recognize education, culture, and non-discrimination as necessary and fundamental means for breaking the cycle of poverty, and including marginalized minorities successfully in national life.
The AniBar International Animation Festival is the only festival of animated film in Kosovo. The AniBar Festival is organized by NGO 'Anibar Group' and is held in August in the town of Peć. The aim of the festival is to present to the public of Kosovo the latest global trends in the field of animated film, as well as create an environment for young writers and animators to be able to create their art.The Anibar Festival started in August 2010, with the main aim of creating a new platform in Kosovo for the animated film genre, as well as encouraging and enabling young authors to create new works with classical and contemporary techniques. In 2011, the Anibar Festival was already officially represented at the annual Dok Leipzig festival in Germany. Animated films that are screened in AniBar are divided into three categories: competitive program, special program and the program 'Kids for Kids Animations'. Admission to the competitions for animated films is open every year from January 30 to April 30.