Oleg and the Rare Arts, Depth Two and other European documentaries shine at DokuFest
by Tina Poglajen
- A portrait of an unorthodox musician and an examination of a nation’s war crimes have won the international and the Balkan documentary competitions at the young festival
The 15th edition of DokuFest in Prizren, Kosovo, focusing on both Balkan and international documentaries, came to a close on Sunday 13 August with a ceremony held at the Lumbardhi cinema. Of the 17 films awarded, 15 were either European documentaries or co-produced by a European country.
The members of the international jury, Carlos Ramos, Jetmir Idrizi, Luke Moody, Nick Pinkerton and Rachael Rakes, awarded Best Film to Oleg and the Rare Arts [+see also:
film profile] by Andrés Duque, a portrait of Oleg Karavajchuk, an eccentric 89-year-old Russian pianist and composer, for letting the main character have “the time and space in which to reveal himself in his own good time”. The jury especially praised the editing for being “strange and deft, picking up tender, brilliant, telling moments in perfect time, seamlessly transitioning between long and short takes”.
The Balkan Dox jury, comprising Eric Hynes, Marek Septimus and Maria Bonsanti, found the winning Serbian-French co-production, Depth Two [+see also:
film profile] by Ognjen Glavonić – an experimental documentary combining spoken testimonies and images of places where Serbian mass killings took place in Kosovo – to be “as cinematically accomplished as it is morally devastating”. They remarked that it placed “the viewer in a position of both historical reflection and present outrage”.
When it started, three years after the war, DokuFest had no cinemas to screen films in, so today, they are screened above a river, projected onto the walls of a mediaeval fortress and inside a former hamam. This year, the organisers experimented with “sunset cinema” for the first time.
The most pressing issue that Kosovo is facing at the moment, according to artistic director Veton Nurkollari, is corruption, and the organisers felt they needed to address it, hoping that opening up a discussion about it could also serve as a means to help fight it. A film programme entitled “Power, Corruption and Lies”, including the Austrian title A Good American [+see also:
film profile], the German-French film Democracy [+see also:
interview: David Bernet
film profile] and the Slovenian-Croatian co-production Houston, We Have a Problem! [+see also:
interview: Žiga Virc
film profile], and a number of panel discussions were presented to tie in with the theme.
Film production in the region has improved significantly in the past few years thanks to the international success of films, the national film funds opening up to co-productions, and the film training programmes initiated and run by several film festivals in the region, said Nurkollari. In view of the rising quality of Kosovar films, DokuFest has been presenting a yearly national film competition since 2007 as well. This year, a short fiction film about the struggles of acting students coming to terms with the reality of the industry they’re trying to be a part of, A Performance by Dritëro Mehmetaj, won for its “authentic performances, clever scriptwriting and decisive direction”.
Despite insufficient domestic institutional support, this year’s jubilee edition of DokuFest continued the festival’s mission of engaging with the local community, thereby helping to build it up as well.
Here is the complete list of award winners:
Something About Life – Nebojša Slijepčević (Croatia)
Tourism – Toni Gacina (Croatia)
Drums of Resistance – Mathieu Jouffre (Kosovo)
Best Short Film
Impressions of a War – Camilo Restrepo (Colombia/France)
The Park – Randa Maroufi (France)
Human Rights Dox
Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) – Abbas Fahdel (France/Iraq)
Starless Dreams – Mehrdad Oskouei (Iran)
When Two Worlds Collide – Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel (Peru)
Import – Ena Sendjevic (Netherlands)
Frankfurter Str. 99a – Evgenia Gostrer (Germany)
A Performance – Dritëro Mehmetaj (Kosovo)
I Kissed Your Kiss on Your Girlfriend’s Cheek, It Was Still Wet – Samuel Weniger and Dardan Zhegrova (Kosovo/Switzerland)
Batusha’s House – Tino Glimman and Jan Gollob (Kosovo/Switzerland)
Procredit Bank “Ekovideo” Award