11th Prishtina International Film Festival

Kosovo, July 16 - July 22 2019

Festival homepage

The jury

Barbara Giza (Poland), Dieter Wieczorek (France), Steven Yates (UK)

Awarded films

 

The 11th Edition of the Prishtina International Film Festival once again underlined its intimacy and friendliness in a festival with the tagline “Friendship. Forever. Prifest.” The message is clear that once you come to the festival you are considered part of the family and that was very much evident in the friendliness and enthusiasm of the staff along with the hospitality, invitations and excursions.

As for the program, over five very full days there were competition screenings and other sidebar sections. The competition sections consisted of The European Competition Program, Honey and Blood – Balkan Films Competition, Middle Length Film Competition, Pridocs Documentary Competition, Student Competition Program, Audience Prize and the Annual International Achievement Award. There were also national and world premieres in the program. 

All of the four screening venues were in the vicinity of the main pedestrianized street in central Prishtina, including an open-air screening venue. The central hub was at the National Theatre with its adjacent sheltered red carpet and outside bar area, which was also where the press conferences took place. Festival participants, delegates, audiences and the public were able to intermingle freely to create a welcoming and non-exclusive ambience.

FIPRESCI awarded the best film from six entries in the Balkan Films Competition. The best attended film was the local production An Unforgettable Spring in a Forgotten Village (Pranvere E Paharruar Ne Fshatin E Harruar). A very lively and funny film, its esoteric humour had the audience in raptures and was a showcase for current Kosovo cinema. Other highlights of the section included the immigrant-themed drama Holy Boom from Greece, the meditative Albanian-Romanian film A Shelter Among the Clouds (Streha Mes Reve), and The Announcement (Hons) from Turkey-Bulgaria, a humorous take on an actual military coup in 1963. There were also screenings of two previous FIPRESCI winners Birds of Passage (Pajaros De Verano) from Colombia and House of Hummingbird (Beol-Sae) from South Korea. 

The events and workshops included Script development, Financing and Coproduction, Tax Incentives, Women in Arts, and the Best Pitch presentation of seven film projects for which a winner was selected at the awards ceremony. Other innovative events and presentations included films projected in VR by Brightblack, exemplifying the new technologies and formats of the film experience.    

On the closing evening, the award ceremony at the National Theatre was conducted with professional precision. The twelve films in the main competition were split into the European Competition and Balkans Competition. The Best European Film prize went to the LGBT-themed Slovenian production Consequences (Posledice) by director Darko Stante. The section also gave a Special Jury Prize to Vladimir Mishukov for his performance in the Russian film Elephants Can Play Football (Slony Mogut Igrat V Footbol) as well as a Special Mention for The Days to Come (Los Dias Que Vendran) from Spain.      

The Balkan Film Competition main awards were dominated by the Albanian film A Shelter Among the Clouds by Robert Budina which won Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress. A shepherd and devout Muslim has to deal with the realization that the local Mosque used to be a Catholic Church and visiting archaeologists want to restore it to its former state. Mahmut Fazil Coskun won Best Director for The Announcement and the Turkish film also won the FIPRESCI Prize. Set in 1963 and based on actual events, an attempt by retired colonels to take over a National Radio station and announce a military coup d’état, it was commended for its stylisation, period detail, tension, but not least its wry humour as the main protagonists ultimate naivety creates many obstacles.

The most memorable part of the evening, however, was the Lifetime Achievement Award from PriFest for actor Selman Lokaj and actress Melihate Qena, the latter of whom was to receive a long ovation as the audience one-by-one rose to their feet to give an extended applause. A fitting end to a memorable festival which, alas, ended a little too soon.

Steven Yates
© FIPRESCI 2019