A Healthy Rose to Dokufest

It was visually crazy to be in calm Prizren for the Dokufest. Prizren that in its centre is full of cafés, where people drink tea and coffee, smoke cigarettes and eat cakes (they have sweet teeth in this area). They sit under covers that advertise for coca cola or for Tuborg or for beers like Peja. Like in so many cities in the South. However, there is a big difference here. Whereever you turn your head you see a poster with a rose, or a poster with roses set up in a way so you read CORRUPTION. It’s all over and create a small drama in the daily lives – you are surrounded by corruption is the message. And it IS all over, on my way to the airport as well. In many versions.

But that is not the only word that catches your eye.

Did you ever see a shop that sells a DOKUBurger? They have one in the central square in Prizren, where the water fountain offers water to men and women, boys and girls, and dogs. And where the Dokufest has its sales of tickets and t-shirts.

At the reception café Ocean there is a wall where the word Corruption is accompanied by WAR and LIES, themes which have been important, when the films were selected. Yes, Dokufest is an activist festival that also offers its audience discussions on current issues of today’s world with panelists, who are not in the film professional world.

It’s no secret that Dokufest gets good funding from international organizations and that the US support is substantial. It created a funny situation for me. We (the jury and the director Abbas Fahdel) left the screening of ”Homeland” that deals with the life of an Iraqi family just before and right after the American invasion. We went to a reception hosted by the US embassy, whose ambassador praised Kosovo for the decision to fight corruption. I came from a film that indirectly puts forward that the American invasion has left a divided country with internal fights, and massive corruption.

There’s no corruption within the Dokufest, which has decided to go for the best of the best films, picked up through submissions and what has been picked up at festivals during the last year. The festival does not operate with submission restrictions (like “has to be premieres”) – and has few problems in getting what they want. The Sarajevo International Film Festival, however, has premiere restrictions and that has created some problems for Dokufest.

Do they show too many films in Prizren? Could be. I was at screenings that were sold out, like the funny ”Houston, We Have a Problem”. And I was at screenings, where we were only 10-15 people – and I heard from colleagues that they had been at films watched by under 5 people. Cannibalism? Meaning that all potential viewers at a certain time slot went for the same film.

CORRUPTION… the roses in the promotion clip shown before every screening wither with sighs… from Copenhagen I did a corrupt action, I stole a fresh and healthy rose, from the FB page of organizer Eroll Bilibani for this goodbye and thank you!

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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