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KEN LOACH - present in TIFF GORAN PASKALJEVIC
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INSTITUTO LUCE in Tirana
JOS STELLING - "Erotic Tales"
APULIAN CINEMA DAYS
CARL HENRICK SVENSTEDT
FRANKO NERO - Special Guest

SHORT ATTACK - interfilm Berlin
PARAJANOV - Tribute

JOHN CASSAVETES
JOS STELLING - "Erotic Tales"
APULIAN CINEMA DAYS

What they say said about TIFF
National Cinematography Center
Albania Film Commission
ANAGNOSTI - Father And Godfather

Artlink
Ron Holloway
Fan Noli Foundation
Tunnel

Visual Art

Artan Peqini
Ali Oseku
Agim Zajmi
Genc Permeti
Petraq Papa
Shpend Bengu
Ilir Butka
Ilir Zefi
Igli Jorgo
Genc Mulliqi
Viktor Ferraj
Ziso Kamberaj

 

 

Ron Holloway
For the past 25 years Holloway has been a Berlin-based correspondent on film, television and the media for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Moving Pictures International. He has written articles on film, theater and cultural affairs for the Financial Times and the Herald Tribune.

He is the author of six books on film history and criticism. Together with his actress wife, Dorothea Moritz, he has published the quarterly magazine KINO German Film and International Reports since 1979. The two have also collaborated on four documentaries: Made In Germany (1985); Sundance (1986); Klimov (1988); and Parajanov (1994). In addition to contributions to several film lexicons, anthologies and essay collections, his selected publications include Z Is For Zagreb (1972); Beyond The Image (1977); O Is For Oberhausen (1979); The Bulgarian Cinema (1986); Goran Paskaljevic: The Human Tragicomedy (1996); and KINO Macedonian Film (1997).

Born 26 November 1933 in Peoria, Illinois, Holloway received his B.A. in Philosophy and M.A. in Religious Philosophy at Loyola University in Chicago. He completed his Ph.D. studies at the University of Hamburg in Germany with a dissertation on the Religious Dimension In The Cinema, with particular reference to the films of Carl Theodor Dreyer, Ingmar Bergman and Robert Bresson. He co-founded the Chicago Center for Film Study and the Cleveland Cinematheque, and was honored with a Rockefeller Fellowship 1969-70.

From: http://www.cinemafoundation.com/free/holloway.html

THE HOLLOWAY FILE

This is the only complete index of the films and filmmakers of the ex-USSR. It has been assembled by its author, film scholar Ron Holloway, from many original sources including correspondence with the filmmakers. Where information was available from ex-Soviet archives, he has attempted to verify it, and has corrected it as needed. He updates it regularly. For ease of browsing and searching, it is a single large document. THE DATABASE WILL TAKE SEVERAL MINUTES TO LOAD. CLICK HERE TO BEGIN LOADING THE HOLLOWAY FILE

First Tirana International Short Film Festival
“Welcome to the Tirana Short Film Festival” runs a patch on the festival’s website, 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 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 Triptych. 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.

Ron Holloway, GEP/Interfilm, 18 January 2004

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 from KINO, GERMANY


FOCUS:
Third Tirana International Short Film Festival

After two strong outings, abetted by the breaking news that Tirana was chosen »World City 2005,« it was a sure bet that the Third Tirana International Short Film Festival (5-11 December 2005) would go bigtime on the world festival stage too. With more than 20,000 Euros in purse prizes as bait, this year’s TIFF received over 700 applications from 65 countries for entry in its five sections: 370 in the fiction category, 185 in animation, 85 in documentary, 60 in experimental, and 30 more in the cross-country Albanian-language shorts section. In addition, festival director Ilir Butka and programmer Genc Permeti programmed 27 feature films in free-fall evening programs that ran deep into the night. Most important of all for a festival’s continued existence, TIFF 2005 could count on the support of 35 sponsors, plus the city’s foreign ambassadors and cultural centers, for the six-day event.

Three juries divided up the awards. The International Jury headed by critic David D’Arcy, awarded »Best Film of TIFF« to Heiko Hahn’s Vorletzter Abschied (Before I Go) (Germany), the poignant story of an old couple faced with the woman’s shattering Alzheimer illness. Beth Amstrong’s Danya (Australia), the story of a young girl’s gradual grasp of the reality of death, was awarded Best Fiction Film. Special Mentions for fiction shorts underscored the strength of this category. Robert Bodina’s Lulebore (Snowdrop) (Albania), a moving tale of a husband’s losing effort to raise the money to secure for his ailing wife a life-saving operation abroad, was also voted the Public’s Award. Jason Branderburg’s 113 (Switzerland) uses a subtle flashback technique to unveil the hidden wartime secrets of a building (»113« is the street address) about to be torn down by wreckers.

Another Special Mention went to Roman Filippov’s Posvyashenie (Initiation) (Russia). Shot in black-and-white, it sketches the determination of a sensitive young boy to escape his tormentors on a playground while on his way to a flute rehearsal. A personal favorite was another Russian entry: Vladimir Kott’s Dbep (The Door). This absurd Beckettian tale begins with a simpleton emerging from behind a still-standing door after a house has been razed, whereupon he carries the door around on his back like the clowns in Roman Polanski’s Two Men and a Wardrobe (Poland, 1959), drawing all and sundry into a merry round of encounters until he disappears behind the door again.

Indeed, the fiction category was the strong suit at TIFF with Spanish entries topping the list for audience appreciation. The Media Award by Albanian critics went to Alex Sampayo’s La buena caligrafia (The Good Caligraphy), the story of an illiterate Spanish woman whose desire to learn to read and write leads to a secret about her husband that in the end warms her soul more than distressing her heart. José Javier Rodriguez Melcon’s Nana (Lullaby) needs only three minutes to recount the dangerous voyage of asylum-seekers on an open sea, for the mother’s Lullaby is directed at a sleeping baby in the arms of a frightened young African mother. And Luiso Berdejo and Jorge C. Dorado’s La Guerra (War), set in World War Two, focuses on the efforts of a young girl to save her baby brother after her parents have been wantonly killed by marauding soldiers.

Equally strong were a handful of entries in the documentary section. Igor Strembitskyy’s Podorozhniy (Wayfarers) (Ukraine), awarded Best Documentary Short, depicts in striking poetic images the everyday in a clinic for the mentally retarded. On the surface Xavier Lukomski’s Le pont sur la Drina (The Bridge over the Drina) (Belgium) appears to be little more than a one-shot static portrait of a bridge over the River Drina in eastern Bosnia as it emerges from the darkness of night into the light of day, save that the dialogue of a witness at Den Haag pinpoints in chilling terms the death-toll of bodies (men, women, children) that passed nightly under this historic bridge once celebrated in a novel by Nobel Prize winner for literature Ivo Andric. In Maciej Adamek’s insightful Powrot (Getting Back) (Poland) we follow the faltering efforts of a man to start all over again after serving a 10-year prison term. And Burbuque Berisha’s straight-forward Te rritur ne rruge (Growing Up in the Streets) (Kosovo) the focus is on street-children, some with ailing or jobless parents, making the rounds with produce and wares to make ends meet at home.

Tomek Baginski’s Fallen Art (Poland) was awarded Best Animation Short. A multi-festival winner, it depicts the crass attitude of a deranged officer at a military base towards underlings in his command. Another musing multi-festival winner was Geza M. Toth’s Maestro (Hungary), which blends an operatic aria with puppet animation to underscore a closing pun on a »performance« gag. And Erik Rosenlund’s Butler (Sweden) spoofs sex and marriage in line drawings about a butler who loses his job when a couple discover that the erotic begins at homebase.

Shpend Bengu’s Hyrje&Dalje (Enter&Exit) (Albania), a black-and-white exercise in flashing images, was awarded Best Experimental Short. And in the new competition for »Albanian Shorts« the entries included productions from Kosovo and the USA. Dhimiter Asmailaj’s 89 cents (USA), awarded the top prize, probes the searching subconsciousness of a young student living in New York City.

Currently, the Albanian National Center for Cinematography (ANCC) is promoting the launch of a half-dozen newly financed productions and coproduction. Kujtim Cashku’s The Magic Eye has already made the rounds of festivals in Cairo, Tel Aviv, and Montreal. Robert Budina’s short feature Snowdrop won two prizes at this year’s Tirana festival. Artan Minarolli’s Chant d’amour, a coproduction with France based on a short story by awarded author Ylljet Alicka, is finished and headed for either Berlin or Cannes. Dhimiter Anagnosti’s Father and Godfather, an original script backed solely by ANCC funds, is now in postproduction. Besnik Bisha’s Mao Tse Tung, the story of a boy given this name during the country’s link to Red China, is also nearing release. And Fatmir Koci’s A King for Circumcision, based on Ismail Kadaré’s historical novel Sinister Year, is ready to go before the cameras.

Fatmir Koci, Albania’s best known director abroad, was honored at TIFF 2005 with a three-film retrospective: his short features The Third One (1988) and Ballad Through Bullets (1989), plus the feature Tirana Year Zero (2001). Ken Loach was on hand for the special screening of Tickets (2005), an interwoven train odyssey directed together with Ermanno Olmi and Abbas Kiarostami. Serb director Goran Paskaljevic’s Balkan Powder Keg (1999) and Midwinter Night’s Dream (2004) were sellout presentations at the Millennium 2 venue. So, too, British documentarist Nick Broomfield’s Kurt & Courtney (1998), his controversial film about rock stars Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. Last, but not least, seven of Regina Ziegler’s Erotic Tales were booked for late hour cineastes.

Ron Holloway KINO, GERMANY

 

 

 

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