GEP/Interfilm, 18 January 2004
“Welcome to the Tirana Short Film Festival” runs a patch on the
and click - you’re in the domain of one of the most sophisticated festival
launches on the net today, one that easily puts other festival websites to
shame. Organized by filmmakers Agron Domi and Ilir Butka under the
auspices of the Albanian Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, in
conjunction with the Foundation of Art Media Albania (FAMA), the First
Tirana International Film Festival (TIFF), scheduled 1-7 December 2003, is
officially known as “The First International Festival in Albania for Short
Fiction, Documentary, Animation, and Experimental Films.” A month before
the festival even opened, TIFF served notice that 82 short films had been
selected from 30 countries, that cash awards would be given in seven
categories, and that a five-member international jury headed by Ireland’s
Mick Hannigan (director of the Cork Film Festival) would pick the winners.
Furthermore, to show just how serious the staff was, the website offered
photos of the screening halls, the flagship Tirana International Hotel,
and the full list of participating entries by country, director, and year
Publishing a list of entries in advance can be dangerous, given the
plethora of film festivals towards the end of the season. But not a hitch
in the schedule occurred. If the print of a film didn’t arrive in time,
hitech Betacam video projection in the state-of-the-art Cinema Millennium
2 venue assured satisfactory viewing for jury and public. Further, a daily
journal offered interviews with directors and guests. And a two-hour
late-night TV talk show covered all the highlights of the day. On more
than one occasion, codirectors Agron Domi and Ilir Butka repeated to press
and visitors the festival’s mission to become a key player on the short
film festival circuit. “The Tirana Film Festival aims to be an annual
international event, where the best achievements in the short film gender
can be mirrored, whether fiction or animation or documentary.” To
underscore this pledge, the staff erected an oversized director’s chair
before the entrance of Cinema Millennium 2 - upon which posed a laughing
Four years ago, Tirana didn’t even have a cinema to program films. Then
investors arrived on the scene, and the government made film, television,
and the media one of its priorities. After all, in the heyday of Albanian
socialism, as many as ten feature films were produced annually in the
Tirana Film Studios. Whether these days will ever return in questionable,
but no matter - the city is a playground for private cable channels and a
thriving video piracy market. In fact, until the government recently
passed a restrictive media law, DVDs from around the world were broadcast
on the wildcat channels. Presently, some Albanian film students journey to
nearby Pristina in Kosovo to study cinema, the fruits of which could be
seen among the half-dozen Albanian entries contenting for prizes at TIFF
2003. And not enough can be said about impact two Albanian feature film
directors have made on the international scene: Fatmir Koci (Tirana
Year Zero, 2001) and Gjergj Xhuvani
2001). Currently, Fatmir Koci is developing an international coproduction
project: the story of Wilhelm of Wied, a German prince who briefly ruled
Albania in 1913 after the expulsion of the Turks and on the eve of the
First World War.
As everywhere else in the major cities of Southeastern Europe, Tirana is
internet friendly and computer connected. Computerized subtitles in
Albanian were beamed onto the screen, although English is the lingua
franca for all practical purposes. Out of pure audience delight, the TIFF
voted a special award to a Dutch director: the Jos Stelling
The short features - The
Waiting Room (1996),
The Gas Station
(1999), and The Gallery
(2003) - belong to the collection of 30 Erotic Tales produced by
Berlin-based Regina Ziegler.
Albania: Tirana Film
primo di questo tipo in Albania. “Per vivacizzare la scena culturale di un
Paese che pur nelle ristrettezze economiche è riuscito in questi anni a
proporre alcuni successi internazionali”, dichiarano gli organizzatori.
(26/11/2003) Si inaugurerà l’1 dicembre il primo festival del
cortometraggio a Tirana. Promosso dal Ministero della cultura e dal Comune
della capitale albanese includerà quattro categorie: fiction, documentario,
cartone animato e sperimentale. Gli organizzatori hanno annunciato che
saranno 83 i lavori proiettati, provenienti da trenta diversi Paesi del
La selezione dei cortometraggi è stata fatta da un gruppo di registi sia
albanesi che stranieri. Sono loro ad aver scelto questi 83 corti, dopo
averne visionato circa 345. Nella giuria che assegnerà invece i premi tra
gli altri Gjergj Xhuvani, autore del film proiettato anche in alcune sale
italiane titolato “Slogans”, il regista irlandese Mick Hannigan, direttore
del film festival “Cork”, e dal francese Luc Barnier. Andrea Rocco, Film
Secondo quanto affermato dagli organizzatori è la prima volta che in
Albania si intraprende in campo cinematografico un’iniziativa di tale
livello internazionale. Certo in un momento del tutto particolare nel
quale l’arte e la cultura albanese si stanno profondamente trasformando.
In campo cinematografico negli ultimi anni sono nate molte case
cinematografiche che lavorano in stretta collaborazione con il Centro
della cinematografia albanese. Quest’ultimo è l’unica istituzione statale
che in questi anni ha sostenuto la realizzazione di alcuni film anche se
non ha mai smesso di dare segni di difficoltà: molti i progetti
cinematografici che vengono avviati nel Paese e scarsi i fondi a
Secondo il giornale “Balkan” la mancanza di una strategia nazionale a
favore di arte e cultura ha portato la cinematografia albanese in una
situazione difficile. Prima dei sconvolgenti anni novanta il cinema
albanese produceva annualmente una quindicina di lungometraggi, venti
documentari, e più di una decina di cartoni animati. Ora la produzione è
cambiata ed il Centro cinematografico si limita a finanziare solo gli
autori conosciuti, che danno ‘adeguate garanzie artistiche’, mentre
vengono lasciati fuori i giovani artisti. Questi ultimi sono allora
costretti a trovare spazi e collaborazioni all’estero.
In una conferenza stampa d’introduzione del festival gli organizzatori
hanno affermato che ciò che li ha spinti a promuovere un’iniziativa di
questo tipo era la volontà di rilanciare e ravvivare la scena culturale di
Tirana e di far conoscere anche all’estero la tradizione cinematografica
albanese e balcanica. Perché cortometraggi? Perché hanno un carattere
estremamente dinamico ed innovativo.
Nonostante le continue ristrettezze economiche negli ultimi anni l’Albania
ha conosciuto vari successi a livello internazionale. Tra questi il film
“Slogans”, del regista Gjergj Xhuvani, “Lettere al vento” di Edmond Budina,
“Il giardino dell’Eden” documentario di Eno Milkani, “Tirana, anno zero”,
documentario di Fatmir Koçi.
Artan Puto ©
Osservatorio sui Balcani
Thank you so much again for this wonderful festival. I have just written
to the Director of the Luxembourg Film Fund to tell him about your great
programming, the organization and the hospitality ! This 1-st
International Film Festival of Tirana will forever stay in my memory and I
hope to come back for the next edition! I really appreciated the
conversations I had with each one of you, you were all so open minded,
bright, and full of positive energy! Thank you for your interest for my
home made Chicken and a big hug to you, Ilir, Artes, Agron, Eni, Mandy,
Ilir again, Gani (sorry for the spelling: if I miswrite your names, I
won't forget your smiles, for sure !) and all the staff from the festival
! I wish you all the best and a very very long life to your Festival and
Albanian Film Making!
LOVE FROM LUXEMBOURG!
It was very nice to meet you and all the people in Tirana, I must say that
your festival can be small, but very interesting and could have the
special place on the festival map of Europe……
I want to thank you ones more for the wonderful time I have in Tirana and
I hope I will be able to come back. I wish you a lot of success in what
you are doing (and it works - slowly, but works, I have this experience
after three years).
Documentary Film Institute
Prague, CZECH REPUBLIC
Agron, Ilir and to all the staff of T.I.F.F,
I am writing to you will much pleasure for thanking you for the
hospitality and the respect that you showed to me. It was a pleasure as
well to participate in this festival and at the same time an honor.
In Kosovo the TIFF is welcomed with joy and at KOSOVAFILM they made me a
solemn reception for my award as the best film of TIFF. This was the
biggest award that Kosova wins in 20 years after the movie Proka.
for all and hope to work together in a near future.
My best regards Buqja
The winner of the best film of TIFF for 2003
in Florence after a long trip of 14 hours….tired and confused of this
unforgettable experience…. The festival…..the festival was far above of my
expectations: the quality of the short movies very high, the attention of
the media was incredible, the participation of the public, considering the
fact that this was just the first edition of the Festival can be
considered a good one and the organization just perfect. I hope that you
are happy with this first edition, or not????
But I know that you and Agron are perfectionists and I am sure that you
will get obsessed to improve this event that after some years will be
taken as an example from the other European countries….
One of these days I will write to the director of the Italian Institute of
Culture in Tirana just to express all my happiness of being a guest of the
Festival and I will remark (with modesty) that I did not have the chance
to meet him…..
you, thank you, thank you …..
message from France is just to say again how proud and happy I am for this
time spent in Tirana as a jury member of TIFF. What you have done with
your staff is a great work. I did not have doubts, but the result was
higher than what I dreamt about. All the echoes that I received were very
warm and really flattering on your regard. This festival is the real point
of departure for a big collective adventure...
Chief – editor
Jury Member of TIFF
for the brilliant festival.
“Screen International” magazine
Blanka Elekes Szentagotai in Bucharest 10 December 2003
first edition of the Tirana International Film Festival ended with the
best short film prize being awarded ex aequo to Italian director
Alessandro Dominici’s The Last Gunman and Kosovan filmmaker Burbuqe
Berisha’s Kosovo 9/11.
festival, which ran from Dec 1 to Dec 7 featured 82 short films from
30 countries. The five-member jury made up by Cork Film Festival
director Mick Hannigan, Genova Film Commission founder Andrea Rocco,
Czech filmmaker Andrea Prenghyová, French editor Luc Barnier and local
film director Gjergj Xhuvani, awarded the best fiction prize to the
Swiss film The Stairs by Frederic Mermoud, while in the documentary
category another Italian filmmaker, Simone Salvemini took home the
award for his story of Albanian emigrants in the Italian town Brindisi,
The Traffic-Lights Brothers.
Ukrainian filmmaker Stepan Koval’s multi-award winning The Tram No9
Goes was named best animation, while another Italian production,
Andrea Adriatico’s Fists And A Sky Is Closing Over Me was given the
best experimental film prize. Director Bujar Alimani’s The Kennel was
named best Albanian film with a special mention going to Eno Milkani’s
festival’s media prize was also awarded to Burbuqe Berisha’s Kosovo
9/11, while the public’s choice was a Belgian production, Michel
Vereecken’s You Should Make Movies.
compliments for organizing a wonderful film festival. I must say, you did
a great job, guys! After an excellent time I had in Tirana I will always
wish to come back.
All the best wishes!
Live long TIFF!
Organizer of DOKUFEST
many thanks for a wonderful experience in Tirana. It was very special to
be present at the birth of the festival and also to see what a great
country Albania is, and what wonderful people are there.
Hannigan (Director of Cork Film Festival, member of TIFF jury) and Una
so much for a most enjoyable time at the 1st Tirana film festival.
Everyone I meet is delighted to hear what a great festival Tirana is..
USA / GERMANY
for all, I felt very well and not only for my victory!!
Winner of the Best Film of TIFF
50-year isolation, the country shows the rare phenomenon of a centralized
management of cinematography by the state, made with entirely
propagandistic goals. The film production during this period reached
levels, which can be considered as record with regard to the number of
population in Albania. 15 fullk features, 20 documentaries, 16 animations
per year, all made in one of the biggest institutions of the country with
participation of the best representatives of the Albanian cinema. With the
new political developments and the change of system after the `90s, the
Albanian cinematography finds itself in the free trade's crossroad.
Albania is starting to live up to its (lost) potential, with the 2003
Tirana Film Festival as the current highlight.
Dear Agron & Ilir,...Once again, thank you very much for your hospitality
and long life to the TIFF !
...Once again, I wanted to thank you very very much for this wonderful
event that you have create in Albania. When I knew I was going to be once
more in Tirana after my first trip 10 years ago, I knew that I would see a
new country and that many things should have change... and, as you know,
the “choc” was impressive !
I’m sure that you have create with the TIFF a very important event for the
development of the cinema in Albania and a new way to promote the country,
his charm, specificities and interest to the foreign countries....
...I think it could be helpful if I could show to those people an extract
of the TV talk show and award evening of the festival. It is so rare that
a festival can count on the public
Television to promote a film festival like that.
Thanks again and all the best to all of you.
no doubts that I consider it a great achievement holding an international
film festival in Albania, especially one of short films, such as animation
films and fictions. On the other hand, this is a very difficult job, as
here in Albania films of this kind are only a few. I would consider this
festival as original in its kind. When learning of the project from one of
the organizers, Ilir Butka, I felt happy for the interest dedicated to the
cinematographic art. I believe it will be a great success, as Agron Domi
as well is a brilliant organizer. Even though I have not yet watched the
films presented in the event, I can say that this festival is an
initiative to be highly appreciated and at the same time supported with
all the financial means available by the state institutions.
opinion, this international film festival is a confrontation of great
values for the Albanian cinematography. Efforts made by Albanian
filmmakers or film studios will have now a more well-defined vision. Only
a confrontation of this kind can result in better ideas for a new
production, because, as I have learned, these films will be screened also
for the public. This is a very important element, as first, the Albanian
public will be introduced to the developments of the world cinematography,
and at the same time a different view will be presented on the
participating films such as fiction, documentaries and animation.
that every initiative addressing the creation of a festival makes an
opportunity to attract the public. In this respect, every activity of the
kind should be welcomed. The festival in question is interesting indeed
considering its organization, as it has found itself in the short film, a
cinematographic genre that has not yet made its own position in Albania.
Further on, I think it is positive the fact that this is an international
festival, which implies an attraction of productions by other countries
and this is very useful. Fourth, the festival includes in its program the
experimental film at a time when in national activities it has not been
introduced as a practice. In this way, I believe that the festival
attracts the public also with new experimental forms, bringing people
closer to a new type of production. Fifth, the films participating in the
festival have been realized not only in celluloid but also in the
electronic way. Differently from other international festivals of other
genres organized in Albania, this festival offers for the first time a
material prize along with the moral one, and, of course, this initiative
by the organizers makes the event more interesting.
the best chance during all these years to participate in such a unique
event as the Short Film Festival in Tirana. The first International Film
Festival marks a success not only for the organizers, but for all the
Albanian filmmakers as well. I just wish all the best to this initiative
hoping that TIFF will be one of the best known film festivals for short
Every time a festival is held, it offers, besides its values, also
stimulating emotions for the creative work of every filmmaker. I think it
is a very positive sign that, even though Albanian filmmakers have
participated in other international festivals in the world, it is the
first time that such an event is initiated in Albania. It is a great thing
that different cultures, different productions are screened and involved
in a competition here. I will call the festival a success in the road of
Albanian cinematography, being it an alternative for more important
developments in this field. As a matter of fact, by having already
participated in international festivals, Albania is certainly competitive
in this arts field, considering at the same time the fact that it is a
relatively new cinematography as compared to other European countries. In
this viewpoint it has awakened interest and has shown that there are
efforts to work with all means in achieving high levels.
It is an
important and happy event. I am well aware of what it means to organize a
festival of this kind in Albania. Selecting films from all over the world
and ranking in this variety of values the Albanian ones is to me a great
cultural event. It does not matter whether you win a prize in the
festival, as I believe the most important thing is that we will experience
a celebration of the film.
me some time to get over the great experience I had with you in Tirana.
A BIG thank you to everybody involved, the organisation was absolutely
amazing when one knows it was a first!
Long live TIFF, I'm sure it's only the beginning of an already very
successful festival. I miss you guys a lot too, it was really really
strange for me when I
got back to Paris. It took me some time to find the taste to do
anything. When I got back, people were asking after your country, people
are curious because nobody knows anything about it yet.
not stop thinking about your wonderful festival, beautiful city, and
I have no words to describe the amazing and unforgettable week I had
in Tirana, in your festival. I am really appreciated your warm
welcoming and hospitality. I meet unique people, colorful and
beautiful places and saw very interesting films. I think you are doing
very influential thing and having a main part in a very important
cultural revolution of your country.
I hope I will see you again in Tirana or Israel.
I am sending you a sign for luck and blessing (called “Hamsa”). It
written in Hebrew and it’s a little pray for luck, success, happiness