Tirana International Film Festival

Cinema Short Film Festival
fiction, documentaries, animation and experimental

December 05 - 11, 2005


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TIFF 2005


Guests of the Festival

Ken Loach, Goran Paskaljevic, Carl Henrik Svenstedt, Fatmir Koci, Interfilm Berlin, Danish Film School, David D'arcy, Ron Holloway, and more ...

Special Programe
“P   A   N   O   R   A   M   A”

Greeting remark by the Minister of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports

Dear Friend


Entry Rules & Regulations

Submitted Films



Second Tirana International Short Film Festival 

“Think Different, See Alike” – ran the motto of the Second Tirana International Short Film Festival (4-10 December 2004) on a poster with a gentleman wearing a Godot-Chaplin-esque bowler whose face is wrapped in celluloid. Organized jointly by Foundation Art Media Albania (FAMA) and the Albanian Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, together with the Mayor of Tirana, the second TIFF under Agron Domi and Ilir Butka, filmmakers and video artists who run the independent FASADA Studio, far exceeded even the expectations of its founders. Numbers alone say nearly everything. Of the 700 films and videos from 63 countries applying for admission, 140 from 40 filmlands were accepted into the four-tier competition for purses of over 20,000 Euros. In addition, 30 feature films were screened in retrospective tributes that ran late into the night in the Academy of Fine Arts and the Millennium 2 venue. Altogether, TIFF welcomed over 200 guests, including a large contingent of Albanian talent – film, video, and media artists from Tirana and elsewhere in Albania, plus filmmakers from Pristina and Przren in Kosovo.

                Applications covered the full spectrum of short film-and-video production: 330 fiction, 118 experimental, 117 animation, and 114 documentary films. Given the overwhelming number of enquiries, TIFF felt compelled to wave an apologetic “Selection Closed With Regrets” banner across its website to slow the flow of aspiring applicants. “Apparently many want to come because Albania is an exotic place to visit,” said Ilir Butka. Whatever the reason, Tirana has leapfrogged onto the European film stage to become a major event in the Balkans. Next September, when TIFF becomes a full member of the European Coordination of Film Festivals (ECFF), the festival may broaden its focus beyond shorts to include independently produced features.

                “We aim to create in Albania a cultural center of worldwide alternative and independent cinema,” stated Agron Domi at the opening night ceremonies held in the imposing classic-style Dajti Hotel in downtown Tirana. Words to that effect were repeated in the daily festival bulletin, “Bjectiff” (read: “BE-OBJEC-TIFF”), printed in English and Albanian. And “Top Show” roundtable sessions with guests and filmmakers were aired nightly on the local Top Channel TV. Indeed, the whole intellectual and cultural community supported TIFF at its second outing.

                Blendi Klosi, the Albania Cultural Minister, opened the festival in praise of the country’s new cultural identity. “If you happened to be here last year,” he said, “then all you have to do is to stroll down the main boulevard to note the difference.” Indeed, during the balmy weather favoring this year’s festival, the streets were alive until the wee hours, the sidewalk cafes were filled to the last chair, and eye-catching boutiques in colorful edifices stayed open extra hours to accommodate tourists. Hotel President, the festival’s four-star hotel with the distinguished Carlsberg restaurant, offered around-the-clock internet service to festival guests.

                Millennium 2, the festival’s flagship venue with 300 seats, was packed for competition screenings. Students and cineastes crowded into the Black Box (another 300 seats) at the Academy of Arts for the nightly retrospective tributes to Sergei Paradjanov and John Cassavetes. Kosovo filmmaker Burbuqe Berisha, winner of the “Best Film of the Festival” Award at TIFF 2003 for the short feature Kosova 9/11, returned to Tirana to curate a program of Kosovo films produced in Pristina and Przren (Kosovo’s second largest city and the site of a short film festival of its own). Next year, it was reported, another Millennium venue in nearby Durrës will link with its twin in Tirana, thus extending TIFF to the sandy beaches of the Adriatic Sea.

                The Albanian Film Commission under the auspices of FAMA can boast of three European coproductions in

2005. The commission is housed in the restored “Kinostudio Shqiperia e Re” (New Albanian Studios), a temple-like edifice dating back to 1952. Closed in 1992, after which it was abandoned for a decade, the studio complex is about to become a modern “film city” for home production. Just a week before this year’s TIFF, a new film school, half private enterprise, half state institution, opened its doors to a dozen students for a three-year program in directing, screenwriting, camera, and editing.

                If there had been any nagging doubts among festival visitors as to the strategic importance of Albania for the future of Balkan cinema, then these were quelled by a short excursion to the nearby historical port city of Durrës. The trip included a stopover at the restored Hotel Adriatik on the Adriatic Sea, a first-class, palm-tree-lined, beach-side hotel with a casino and restaurants reminiscent of the Côte d’Azur. Next year, the Hotel Adriatik may be welcoming VIP guests from Hollywood, given the completion of a new highway that will link both cities to Mother Teresa International Airport, currently under reconstruction with German and EU financing.

                The International Jury – composed of Siena festival director Barbara Biakowska, Belgian filmmaker Jean-Philippe Larouche, Albanian director Fatmir Koci, and KINO editor Ron Holloway – cited the short fiction films as the strong suit at TIFF2. Five of the festival’s top awards, plus two special mentions, went to filmmakers working in the narrative genre. Ellery Ngiam’s Jia Fu (Family Portrait) (Singapore), an amusing, bittersweet, low-key story about a well-to-do Singaporean family hit hard by the Asian stock-market crash five years ago, was voted Best Film of the Festival. Yousaf Ali Khan’s Talking with Angels (UK), a biting attack on discrepancies in the British social welfare system through the eyes of a young lad who stands up for his ailing mother and siblings under his care, was awarded Best Fiction Film. Lendita Zeqiraj and Blerta Zeqiri’s Rrugedalje (Exit) (Kosovo), a black comedy about three young men cornered in an apartment during the Kosovo conflict, was named Best Albanian Film. A talented sister team from Pristina, they are currently reshaping Exit into a full-length feature film.

                The Media Award, given by a separate jury, went to Panagiotis Fafoutis’s Red Sky (Greece), a piercing drama about a lonely waitress and two wild disco-ravers, as they plunge into a tragic moment none of them will ever forget. Rafa Russo’s Nada que perder (Nothing to Lose) (Spain) is memorable for the sensitive exchange between a friendly taxi-driver and an aspiring actress, who later sinks to callgirl status. It was voted the Public Award. Two other fiction entries received Special Mentions. Graham Cantwell’s A Dublin Story (Ireland), a street-wise tale about two boys coming of age, and Micha Wald’s Alice et moi (Alice and Me) (Belgium), a hilarious story of unrequited love foiled by capricious communication on a mobile telephone.

                Peter Cornwell’s Ward 13 (Australia), awarded Best Animation, takes a newly admitted patient to an emergency ward on a riotous, nightmarish, Kafkaesque trip through a weird hospital. Similarly, Virgil Widrich’s Fast Film (Austria), given a Special Mention, takes the viewer on a magic-carpet trip through familiar scenes from Hollywood classics by way of floating film clips. Zelimir Gvardiol’s Crni gavrani (Ravens) (Serbia & Montenegro) was voted Best Documentary. An indictment of the Milosovic regime, Ravens documents how despairing parents part ways with a nationalist-minded grandfather over the needless death of an only son who had served in the Serb army.

                Dorian Ahmeti’s Kumbulla te hidhura (Bitter Prunes) (Albania) was awarded Best Experimental Film. Bitter Prunes explores in abstract images how emptiness in life is compensated by shadowy memories of the past. Ahmeti, after the fall of communism, studied abroad, first in Italy, then at the California Art Institute. Returning to Albania, he is currently organizing film festivals and video programs in cities across the country.

                Another imaginative experimental entry was Fumiko Matsuyama’s Abenteuer der Rumflashe (Adventures of the Rumbottle) (Germany). Written, animated, directed, produced, and distributed by a Japanese media artist living in Berlin, this delightful eight-minute Cuban pastiche was shot from the hip with a camrecorder during the Havana film festival. Since Fumiko has a knack of making an experimental video at nearly every festival she visits, look for another Matsuyama entry at the next Tirana festival.

                This year’s TIFF owed a vote of thanks to coverage in the local media. Elsa Demo, Albania’s top film critic, reported with insight on festival highlights for Shekulli, Tirana’s largest circulating daily. And Kult, the city’s arts weekly, plugged the festival with an “exclusive” section that featured interviews with Albanian film professionals and international guests. Asked what their plans might be for next year, the festival codirectors cited two priorities. Ilir Butka hinted that a Rainer Werner Fassbinder retrospective and exhibition would be most welcomed. And Agron Domi reiterated that the time is ripe for TIFF to graduate from shorts to include independently produced features as well.

                This coming December, when the Third Tirana International Film Festival takes place as a member of the European Coordination of Film Festivals, the TIFF office expects to be swamped with applications for entry. After all, more than 20,000 Euros in cash prizes were awarded to the winners at the 2004 competition.

– Ron and Dorothea Holloway nfrom KINO, GERMANY


TIFF 2004

TIFF 2003

Movie Theater


PHOTO 2004

Second Edititon

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