Jasmila Zbanic’s On The Path has won the Best Film award at the second Pristina International Film Festival in Kosovo.
The Special Jury Prize went to Johannes Naber’s Der Albaner and Best Director to Nader T Homawyoun for Tehroun. Albanian actor Nik Xhelilaj scooped the Best Actor prize for his performance in Der Albaner with the Best Actress award going to Zrinka Cvitesic for On The Path. Albanian production Border Donkeys, which had its world premiere at the festival, won the Audience Award.
President of the jury Eva Orner said of Zbanic’s Best Film winner: “On The Road is a haunting, beautiful, perfectly crafted film that is so timely and relevant. Everyone should see this film.”
During the festival, Zbanic told Screen that she is currently co-writing a comedy feature with novelist Aleksandar Hemon. Set on the Croatian coast the film is about a holidaying family that becomes emotionally involved with a beautiful young Hungarian woman. Zbanic, whose drama Grbavica: The Land Of My Dreams won the Berlin Golden Bear in 2006, is expecting the film to be a European co-production after Bosnian film funds rejected the film’s funding application on the grounds that the material was too controversial, citing what it deemed homosexual and pornographic elements.
Zbanic’s production outfit Deblokada is also developing Cure, a Swiss-Austrian-Croatian-Bosnian co-production from 2006 Locarno Golden Lopard winner Andrea Staka and Only For Swedish Girls, a Bosnian-French-Croatian co-production feature written and directed by Namik Kabil, whose documentary Interrogation won the Best Documentary award at the 2007 Sarajevo Film Festival.
In its second year, the Pristina film festival drew 39 films across five categories and over 80 guests. The festival hosted the country’s first co-production forum, which included representation from Medienboard, EAVE and Robert Bosch Stiftung and the heads of regional film centres.
Brigidda Manthey, funding advisor for Medienboard, said: “German producers are curious about Kosovo. And I have been impressed with the festival and this platform; both have been extremely professional. Not having binding co-production agreements, the country is lacking in networking opportunities, contacts and funding, and there are also problems surrounding the limited travelling possibilities. But this is a very good start. The young generation is very eager to establish an industry.”
The local government currently allocates $820,000 (€600,000) to the film industry each year, enough to produce only one or two feature films. While there is only one cinema in the country and no local distribution infrastructure, during the festival the Minister of Culture reaffirmed a recent pledge to double the current level of film funding.
Fatos Berisha, artistic director, said: “Due to the war, the local industry was destroyed, so we’re building from scratch. It’s difficult for us to travel out of our country so we need to get big names here and so far we have succeeded: Vanessa Redgrave was here last year; this year we have brought Jasmila Zbanic, Samuel Maoz, Florin Serban, Franco Nero, Eva Orner and others. We want to establish our own unique character and don’t want to be just another festival in eastern Europe.”
Festival director Vjosa Berisha said that she was in negotiations with larger festivals such as Sofia and Rome to become official partners, and is also planning the country’s first co-production market for next year’s event.
Last year 6,000 people attended the festival and numbers are expected to rise this year.