To get back to Kosovo this year I flew to Tirana, Albania, which has a brand new airport. I'm told it's at least a 2.5 hours drive to Prizren “if the traffic is good”, on a newly built motorway which winds through the mountains for a journey that used to take up to 8 hours. I'm assured the driver “used to race rally” and relax into my seat. Never mind the Italian car which later blocks us from over-taking by hogging the line, at 160kph, and the 10cm which separate the bumpers of our cars. I ask the driver if he's seen Senna, the documentary – as if that might alleviate my sweaty palms, or distract him from pursuing the chase. (He hadn't.)Read more
At the jury deliberation on Thursday which I shared with Doug Block, AJ Schnack, Pamela Cohn, Adriatrik Kelmendi, editor-in-chief from Kosovo national TV, we remarked on what a considered and excellent programme it had been, and how lucky we felt to be part of Dokufest's 9th edition. After a long discussion about the short and feature award for best international documentary, we celebrated (secretly) the decision until the early hours with local raki, peja (beer) and cheese gondolas. When it was getting light (it seems the bars simply remain open until the last person leaves), Pamela and I explored some other areas of Prizren with our stills cameras, among stray dogs and ghostly, battered shop mannequins.
After a stunning flight over the Swiss Alps, Venice and the Croatian coast, the weather turns hazy and I can see numerous farm fields on fire and it starts to rain. At Pristina airport I realise my luggage didn't make it through in London and that I'll have to wait for 2 days for my suitcase. Oh well! I share a lift with filmmaker Rowland Jobson who is here with his Venice-premiered film Girl Like Me. I've been invited to be on the jury for the international competition, and we're screening Peter in Radioland by Johanna Wagner, Unearthing the Pen by Carol Salter and Amy Hardie's The Edge of Dreaming at the festival. It takes us two hours from Pristina airport to Prizren, a beautiful town in the South of Kosovo, in stop and go traffic. The sun is setting and the light is stunning, looking across the mountainous countryside - houses half-built, abandoned cars on the side of the road, a traffic accident... and we pass the German army barracks as we enter Prizren; around 2000 soldiers are still stationed here we're told.Read more