Magazine article Screen International

Kosovo Makes Strides to Develop Film Industry

Magazine article Screen International

Kosovo Makes Strides to Develop Film Industry

Article excerpt

The fourth edition of the international film festival PriFest in Kosovo's capital city of Prishtina, from Sept 24-Oct 1, was the right platform to survey the state of film scene in Europe's youngest country.

PriFest features an industry segment called PriFilmFORUM, which had its third edition this year. It included a pitching workshop called Packing for the Future, a screenwriting workshop, film critics' workshop PriCritic, and PriFest Co-production Forum.

The co-production forum is devised to introduce European industry professionals to their counterparts in region (which in PriFest's case consists of Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia), and to present to regional film-makers the opportunities for access to European funds and co-production markets. In addition to producers, directors and representatives of film bodies from the region, the forum was attended by representatives of the MEDIA Programme, France's CNC, Connecting Cottbus, the Berlinale, European Film Promotion and South Norwegian Film Fund (SORFOND).

The forum focused on how the film industry of Kosovo can develop with help from the rest of the continent. In 2010, Kosovo established a funding and promotion body, the Kosovo Cinematography Centre (KCC). But the legislative frame for funding and production in the territory is obsolete and rigid and KCC and the Ministry of Culture are working on improving it.

"The current law is quite complicated and not supportive, with many restrictions for local and international projects if they want to film in Kosovo," commented Arben Zharku [pictured], Chairman of the Managing Board of KCC. "That's why we have decided to change it, to make it more open more for co-productions and to support minority co-productions, to increase the percentage of support for films and to have the money donated, instead of having producers to pay back under strict rules. Also, we want to give more space to young filmmakers."

Since 2010, the KCC has run two funding competitions for production and development, and supported 29 projects in all categories: features, shorts, documentaries, animation and script development. Out of these, one is a minority co-production with Albania, Gold by Bujar Alimani, whose last film Amnesty premiered at this year's Berlinale Forum, and two are majority co-production projects with Germany: Isa Qosja's Three Windows And A Hanging and Visar Morina's Father.

While Qosja is a veteran director who made films during the former Yugoslavia, Morina is a first-time film-maker who grew up in Kosovo and now lives in Germany.

Morina's project received [euro]100,000 from the KCC, but with funding from Germany's Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, he is confident that Father, a complex story taking place in Kosovo, Germany and Montenegro, will work out. "My greatest concern was how to organize shooting in Kosovo, because I know the infrastructure is not very strong," said the director. "But the support from KCC is crucial, and it means we will get all the help we can."

And the KCC itself also needs help. "Lack of experience in co-production, and difficulties of joining international organization makes a faster development more difficult," explained Fatos Berisha, director of the KCC. "Also the situation regarding cinemas is dramatic. There is only one cinema with regular exhibition in all of Kosovo. …

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