About halfway through the festival, DokuFest 2016 is in full swing. Thousands of visitors have indulged in the documentaries shown at the Balkan’s biggest festival dedicated to documentaries and short movies. This year, the festival is tackling a particularly pressing issue: Corruption.

The people at DokuFest have guts. There are safer things to do than to address corruption in a region where corruption has become a way of life. Perhaps most of all in Kosovo, in whose second biggest city DokuFest has its home.

„All of this happens in a small corner of the world, in a country still shaken from its turbulent past, one continuing to struggle with endemic corruption that is threatening the very future of its citizens. So no wonder Corruption is the main theme of the festival this year and will be highlighted in many different forms and across many festival sections: a specially curated film program entitled Power, Corruption and Lie“, Artistic Director Veton Nurkollari announces in his opening statement.

How deep corruption goes here and how much it is a global problem as well was almost inadvertedly symbolized by the choice of venue for DokuFest’s press conference a few days before the opening.

It was held in a location in a street in Prishtina named after Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu’s stage name Mother Teresa.

The soon to be canonized Catholic nun misused millions donated to her supposedly charitable work in Calcutta and is reported to have been responsible for appaling conditions both in the hospices and the orphanages run by her order.

This year’s program includes documentaries such as Johan Grimonprez’s Shadow World or David Bernet’s Democracy. The shows are complemented by an astounding number of panel discussions, exploring further aspects of the festival’s topic.

Celebrating Cinema And Art

This almost surprisingly leaves still enough room to celebrate the art of cinematography as a whole.

DokuFest, coordinated by Director Nita Deda, offers festivalgoers a well balanced choice of a total of 227 documentaries, short movies, art films and regional productions in up to five venues all over Prizren – thus also giving people from abroad an opportunity to explore the the city – unlike many other festivals that prefer to keep their visitors in one spot.

Young artists coming to Prizren also profit from a number of master classes and workshops DokuFest offers these days – such as Seamus Murphy’s photography master class and the Creative Film School.

So, culture is abundant these days in Prizren. And all of this is run practically exlusively by volunteers. This makes this rich a program all the more amazing.

Given this, it just seems appropriate to let the world know what’s going on. The press and media center, coordinated by Kosovar journalist Una Hajdari, do a fantastic job at that, both on the homepage and, particularly, on the DokuFest’s social media accounts.

Another thing making this festival unique is DokuNights. For while the festival lasts there can be no night without party lasting til early in the morning.

Photo: (c) Majlinda Hoxha/Dokufest
Photo: (c) Majlinda Hoxha/DokuFest

And again it is surprising and high profile acts this festival, now in its 15th year of existence, has to offer. Syrian music legend Omar Souleyman was DokuNights‘ opening act and the following nights have left little to desire.

Dokufest's Opening Act: Omar Souleyman Photo: (c) Majlinda
DokuFest’s Opening Act: Omar Souleyman Photo: (c) Majlinda

DokuFest runs through August 13th. One can expect to be going out with a bang.

Title photo: DokuFest’s Opening Night. Photo: (c) Somer Spat/DokuFest
All photos in this piece were obtained under CC license CC BY-SA 4.0