Since 2016, the festival has been focusing on the cinematic work of a European country in the “Focus Europe” series. For the 35th edition from 5 – 10 April, it will be two countries: Kosovo and Albania. Both Balkan countries, where Albanian is spoken in the majority, have a chequered history behind them. A new generation of filmmakers is trying to come to terms with the past; the films reflect emigration, war traumas and patriarchal social structures.
Co-writer of the Kosovar short film KLITHMA and Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Pristina, Hazir Haziri, says: “The new generation of filmmakers can be called the golden generation. Despite the low budget for Kosovar films, we manage to create real works of art and show them everywhere at the most prestigious festivals. Our films deal with sensitive issues. The 1999 war in Kosovo left wounds in society that have not yet healed.” Hazir Haziri will be our special guest at the film festival in April and will accompany the series of films from Kosovo and Albania. “Focus Europe” wants to be a unifying element and provide an opportunity for exchange with the Kosovar and Albanian communities in South Tyrol.
Four feature films and four short films will be shown in the film series “Focus Europe: Kosovo/ Albania”. Many of the films are based on the directors’ own experiences or on true events.
The feature film debut ZGJOI (HIVE) by Blerta Basholli, a triple award-winning film at the Sundance Festival 2021 and Kosovo’s submission for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, tells the story of Fahrijes, whose husband goes missing after the war in 1999. As she tries to build her own existence with other women, she comes up against the patriarchal structures of the village community.
In DERë E HAPUR (OPEN DOOR), an Albanian film drama from 2019 by Florenc Papas, it is also patriarchal social structures that the two protagonists have to fight against. The road movie between Italy and Albania tells of emigration, an unplanned pregnancy and the break between tradition and modernity. BABAI (FATHER), Visar Morina’s haunting film debut from 2015, is all about a story of flight from Kosovo to Germany. A father who wants to escape the dreary and loveless extended family in Kosovo and leaves Nori, his 10-year-old son, behind alone. Nori, who then embarks alone on a dangerous journey to Germany, full of anger and incomprehension towards his father.
Fittingly, the Bolzano Film Festival has selected a 2019 production by the Zelig Film School: In NEVERLAND, Zelig graduate Erald Dika documents the stories of a group of friends around the turbulent years of 1997 in Albania. New documentary and archive footage is interwoven with staged scenes to paint a picture of this generation.
Four current short films complete the programme and provide an insight into contemporary Kosovo society: TISA by Valter Lucaj, KOLONA by Ujkan Hysaj, KASETA by Ariel Shaban and KLITHMA by Korab Lecaj.
The City of Bolzano is again patron of the festival this year and supports the Focus Europe: Kosovo / Albania film series.