Screening Up Close & Personal: LGBT Police

On the 19th of July, International Film Festival Prishtina (PriFest) screened ‘Up Close and Personal: LGBT Police’, a film by Chris Belloni which documented the lives of LGBTQ+ police officers from different countries around the world, conveying a portrait of how their sexuality or gender identity played a part in their profession. The session was opened by the Dutch Ambassador Gerrie WIllems, and it was concluded with a debate with two of the police officers starring in the film: Marja Lust and Abdel-Aziz Laten, who are part of the Dutch police network “Roze In Blauw” which assists cases of violence or discrimination against LGBTQ+ citizens. The ambassador Marriët Schuurman also took part, as well as Salih Dragidella, the officer responsible for Gender Equality and LGBT issues in the Kosovo police.
For a detailed report by Kosovo2.0 click here

Your Artists for Change in Prishtina: Queer Film Days and Filmmaking Workshop

Between the 16th and the 21st of July, art.1 had a very exciting time in Prishtina, Kosovo. While the 11th edition of the Prishtina International Film Festival took place, the project Youth Artivists for Change brought the Queer Film Days into the program, screening several movies which regarded LGBTQ+ topics.

The opening consisted of the film ‘I am Sofia’, which told the story of a young transgender woman from Rome and the challenges she faced. The protagonist herself, Sofia Qyvalar, was present at the event and, after the film, she took part on a debate about the importance of art for LGBTQ+ activism. Alongside her, sat Marriët Schuurman (the Human Rights Ambassador for the Netherlands), Chris Belloni (filmmaker and founder of art.1), and Erblin Nushi (a filmmaker from Kosovo who emigrated to the USA), for a conversation moderated by Sudeep Dasgupta, a professor from the University of Amsterdam. All of them shared their experiences and engaged with the audience in a discussion which touched multiple topics such as the clash of different realities, emigration, the creation of communities and the importance of film

The program went on with films such as Consequences - our Queer Film Days selection - from the Slovenian director Darko Štante, which later won the prize of Best European Film, awarded by the festival jury.

Alongside the screenings and the debates, it was also time for the first filmmaking workshop to take place in Prishtina. The Dutch trainer Nienke Eijsink and the local trainer Gazmend Nela introduced the group of young participants to the primary notions of documentary making and how they can be used to talk about Human Rights, LGBTQ+ issues and Gender Equality. The workshop was hosted in the Drop In Center, managed by Centre for Equality and Liberty (CEL), another partner of the project. The group of young people took great advantage of the safe space to talk about things that really mattered to them, such as asexuality, the process of coming out, fetishes and activism. By the end of the training, they all had produced short films, some were documentaries, while others were animation pieces or stories created from past experiences that they had had.

On Saturday, 20th of July, we all gathered in CEL’s safe art space to watch their work being screened. Donarta and Raven worked on a piece about bullying and fat shaming, while Valza created an animation alerting for violence. Bjeshkë made a documentary about the protests which had taken place in the previous day, regarding the police discrimination towards the Roma community in Kosovo. Gentrit created an animation about feet fetishism, and about the taboos and prejudices it involves. With Donarta’s help, Alba also told the story of how a friend of hers commited suicide due to an unexpected pregnancy which would not be tolerated by her family. On top of all of this, there was still time for an animation about being asexual, developed by Vernesa, and an animation about coming out of the closet as a lesbian, created by Alba. Raven also produced a short film where he interviewed everyone and made a summary of the workshop that showcased how much fun everyone had had (especially when they had to get very crafty and creative to find ways to overcome the absence of tripods :-)

The festival continued until the 21st of July, when art.1 left Prishtina with a bittersweet feeling and looking very much forward to see more of what these young artivists are going to do in the future.

First filmmaking training in Tirana, Albania

On the 10th of May, the Marubi Fillm Academy in Tirana and the two trainers, Nienke Eijsink and Arianit Gjonbalaj welcomed the participants of the filmmaking training. The group consisted of 9 people, with ages betwen 17-29 years-old. Most of them hadn’t had the opportunity to really learn about filmmaking up until now, but they all shared an affinity towards it. During the introductions, it was also immediately clear that they were very interested in engaging with LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality issues, and that they were very excited to learn how to do so using film. 

The next three days were very intense, with plenty of theory learning but also moments for reflecting, sharing, and experimenting with the cameras. 

The very first exercise consisted on the creating of films with only five shots, where each small group would advertise a product that they wished existed. As results, we got a banana with a shape that wouldn’t be as easily sexualized, which stated that “it seems to be easier to change the shape of food rather than people’s minds”. The second film presented a machine and a card that would grant women free access to sanitary products, in order to avoid the costs adjacent to them, and the third group worked on an “anti-patriarchy” juice.

During the last day of the workshop, the participants had to work in an 8-hour film project, which included developing a concept, writing and pre-producing, shooting and then editing. After all of their hard-work, each group had their project screened. The first film was an animated response to a poem by the participant Thimi, which talked about being a star despite feeling sad and alone at times. They also worked on the story of a man who found out that his sister had a relationship with a girl and responded by murdering her. The film suggested an alternative scenario where she got her revenge by locking him up and threatening him. In addition to bringing up questions regarding homophobia, this was also a reference to the Albanian tradition of family members getting revenge on other families through murder. Finally, the last film portrayed a case of online bullying and intended to function as an awareness campaign to prevent suicide and address mental health matters. As a bonus, we also got to see a short animation against homophobia on which one of the participants had worked on the night before. 

Towards the end, each one of them presented the ideas with which they want to apply for the project mini-grants that will allow them to create their own documentaries. 

“I believe that many young people in our country are very creative but we don’t have many opportunities where to show our ideas. I personally think that movies are a great tool that if used in the right hands can make a big change because films have the power to influence people and make them think deeper. Films can elicit deep feelings and help us reflect on our lives.” - Participant in the workshop


Participants: Romina, Dario, Thimi, Mateo, Tringë, Rexhina, Egzon, Ilenia and Elisabeta.

Upcoming: Queer Film Days in Prishtina and Filmmaking Workshop

Prishtina International Film Festival, the most known film festival in Kosovo, is taking place between the 16th and the 21st of july. As part of the project Youth Artivists for Change, the program will also include a section named Queer Film Days, curated by art.1. 

The opening of the Queer Film Days will be marked by the screening of I am Sofia, a film about an italian transgender woman, followed by a debate and a Q&A with its protagonist. The next days will be filled with other queer movies (full program below) plus an extra screening of Upclose and Personal: LGBT Police, a film produced by art.1 and directed by its founder, Chris Belloni, consisting of personal testimonies of LGBT police officers from The Netherlands, Italy, Canada amongst others. Furthermore, there will be a debate moderated by Sudeep Dasgupta (Amsterdam University) with Dutch police officers who participated in the movie and local police officers and activists.

The Human Rights Ambassador of the Netherlands, Marriët Schuurman will also be present for a debate concerning the empowerment of LGBTQ people through the arts and the importance of their visibility in different platforms. 

While the festival is taking place, it will also be time for another filmmaking training. This time in Prishtina, a local trainer and the Dutch trainer Nienke Eijsink will embark on an adventure with a group of approximately 10 young people who will learn more about using film for activism regarding Human Rights, LGBT Rights and Gender Equality. 


Program: Queer Film Days Prishtina

17th of July 


18:00 I am Sofia + Q&A

National Theatre, Main Hall


22:00 Eva and Candela

Kino Armata 

18th of July


22:00 Consequences

Kino Armata 


19th of July


19:30 Upclose and Personal: LGBT Police + debate

ABC Cinema


22:00 Rafiki

Kino Armata  


20th of July


21.30 A Moment in the Reeds

Kino Armata


Case Study - Serbia 2018

1. Background

This case study was prepared in the framework of the project “Youth Artists for Change” funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Creative Twining scheme. The main goal of the project is to utilize film, theatre, podcast and storytelling activities as powerful awareness raising and advocacy tools with primary focus on young people (14-24 years old). The project takes place in four countries of the Western Balkans: Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia through the alliance of seventeen organisations working with arts, culture, gender equality and LGBTI+ rights. We are very happy to point out that many ERA members from all these countries are involved in the project and are cooperating with Stichting Art 1. This alliance connects young people of different cultural backgrounds through activities such as launch of LGBTI+ film fesivals, photo exhibitions, debates and multiplier events to disseminate the results of the project.

2. Overall Objective and Case Study Questions

The overall purpose of the case study paper is to understand the rights of LGBTI persons situation in Serbia as of 2018 and the main developments during 2018, by making an overview of the political, legal and social context as well as the cultural and arts scene currently existing in the country. The study will have final recommendations and conclusions and will serve as a mechanism to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of the project “Youth Activists for Change”to be implemented in Serbia in 2019-2020.