THE WINNERS 2003
WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT
THE NEWSPAPER OF TIFF
the competition 2003
What they said about TIFF
First Tirana International Film Festival
GEP/Interfilm, 18 January 2004
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 of production.
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 baby doll!
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 (Slogans,
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
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 Festival
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 mondo.
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 disposizione.
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
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
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
thank you, thank you …..
This 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
Thank you for the brilliant festival.
Blanka Elekes Szentagotai
“Screen International” magazine
Blanka Elekes Szentagotai in Bucharest
10 December 2003 04:05
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
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.
My best 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
Firstly, 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
(Director of Cork Film Festival, member of TIFF jury) and Una Feely
Thank you 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
Thank you for all, I felt very well and not only
for my victory!!
Winner of the Best Film of TIFF
After a 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
It was 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 movies.
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
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
GREETING FROM THE
MINISTER OF CULTURE
GREETING FROM THE
MINISTER OF CULTURE
MAYOR OF TIRANA
Hotel Tirana International
FREE INTERNET ACCESS