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Albanian cinema highlights Prishtina fest

By Bernd Buder

The second edition of the Prishtina Film Festival (Prifilmfest), which runs Sept. 22-29, throws a spotlight on films and filmmakers from the Albanian-speaking region.

Fest opens with the world premiere of the Kosovar “Border Donkeys,” Jeton Ahmetaj’s feature debut, a burlesque on the arguments between soldiers of two neighboring posts at the Albanian-Kosovar border in the 1980s when Kosovo still was part of Yugoslavia. This year’s competition unspools 14 European productions.

While local filmmakers have explored the region’s post-Cold War history in such black-and-white interpretations of the war between Serbian forces and Kosovar militia with “Kosova, Desperate Search” (2005) and “Anatema” (2006), the Albanian-speaking cinema is on the way to reflect their region’s recent past from a more conciliatory angle. Like his Albanian collegue Gjergj Xhuvani in “East, West, East: the Final Sprint” (2009), Ahmetaj picks up the region’s Socialist past in “Donkeys,” a light comedy showing two neighbouring entities sharing the same language but a contradictory interpretation of Socialism, thus becoming political enemies. Kosovar veteran director Isa Qosja (“Kukumi,” 2005) is still struggling to finance his new project, “The Dog’s Killer,” a personal story that reflects the status question with more subtle irony.