PriFest's award resembles a golden Goddess on the Throne. | Photo courtesy of PriFest.

The Goddess on the red carpet returns for the 10th anniversary of PriFest

The 10th edition of the Prishtina International Film Festival opened its doors at the National Theater on Tuesday, with a week’s worth of local and international set to screen around the city.

Perhaps the best way to kickstart a city’s film festival is premiering a film shot within its very walls.

“Rooftop Story” directed by Kosovo’s Gazmend Nela, opens with a panoramic view of the Prishtina cityscape, all cast in black and white. The film is a tense but loving story of an unlikely friendship between Lum, a crow-killing enthusiast who lives on the roof of a Prishtina high rise, and Yllka, a young woman looking for her son.

As Nela takes the audience through the streets of Prishtina, landmarks both obscure and well-known, for the Kosovo audience at least, bring a sense of warmth and familiarity to an otherwise nerve-wracking 75 minutes of high-speed chases, emotional outpours, espionage, kidnapping, and crow hunting.

Rooftop Story” has set a high bar for the Kosovar contributions that will be appearing at this year’s PriFest. 2018 sees a record-breaking number of films from Kosovo on the program, with 11 involving Kosovo directors, producers and actors  – a cause for celebration at the opening ceremony held at the National Theater on Tuesday.

“We started this journey 10 years ago, we had a dream that Kosovo would have something many countries in the world have, the chance to honor the talent their country has,” said Vjosa Berisha, the festival’s director, at the opening ceremony on Tuesday. “A decade after we began, this dream can only continue.”

A still from Rooftop Story (2018).

The 2018 program also boasts a striking number of LGBTQI-themed films, collectively named the “Let it Be” Program. These films include “Man Made” (USA), playing at Kino Armata on Wednesday, 22.30 h , “God’s Own Country” (UK), Thursday at the National Theater, 22.00 h, and “Martesa” (KS) at Kino Armata on Saturday at 22.30 h.

There are five different competition categories this year, covering European films, documentary, middle length, the student film competition and the ‘Honey and Blood’, the Balkans film competition, the winners of which will be selected by a jury of eight international judges.

“We have loads of highlights throughout this week, particularly PriForum, our film industry development programme,” said Rina Krasniqi, spokesperson for PriFest. “There will be debates, master classes, press conferences, you name it, all happening in the small hall of the national theater here.”

Krasniqi explained that the Festival is being held at different locations in Prishtina, including the newly-opened Kino Armata, the two halls in the National Theater, as well as an open air cinema set up at Zahir Pajtazi Square, next to Grand Hotel Prishtina.

“A real highlight of the festival is going to be our guest of honor, Vanessa Redgrave,” said Krasniqi. “She’s a very well known actor who was here for the first ever edition of the festival, and now she’s back again for tenth to celebrate a decade with us.”

There will be a special screening of Redgrave’s latest film, “Sea Sorrow,” presented by her at 20.00 h on Saturday in the main hall of the National Theater.

The Festival will start as it began, wrapping up on Saturday with another film from Kosovo, Kastriot Abdyli’s “Kthimi” (The Return) at the National Theater at 22.30 h.

Correction July 19, 2018: A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to the closing film of the festival as Blerta Zeqiri’s film. The film “Kthimi” was directed by Kastriot Abdyli.

18/07/2018 - 17:15

18 July 2018 - 17:15

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.