Many LGBT+ people in Kosovo are deprived from Psychological Services

This article is originally published on kosovotwopointzero.com. To read the full article, click here.


Many LGBT+ people in Kosovo are deprived from Psychological Services

This article is originally published on kosovotwopointzero.com. To read the full article, click here.


Queer Film Days in Albania

Between 18-22 September 2019 a new film event happened in Tirana, Albania. Entitled “Queer Film Days” (QFD), the program consists of a number of films and events which highlight topics that refuse to be invisible and tell stories that “create a new cultural space”.

QFD has been organised by Open Mind Spectrum Albania (OMSA), headed by Arber Kodra, and in collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tirana, the EU delegation, Stitching Art.1 and the International Human Rights Film Festival Albania (IHRFFA).

The events are also a part of the Youth Activists for Change (YAC) project which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. YAC aims to empower filmmakers, storytellers, artists, and activists in creating art and performances focused on human rights/LGBTIQ+ rights and gender equality.

The festival opened on 18 September with a second showing of the award-winning exhibition ‘Culture of Humiliation’ by Macedonian artist and human rights activist Antonij Karadzoski. Through his artwork, he aims to break down stereotypes and raise awareness of important human rights issues such as bullying in the LGBTI community. The event kicked off at Europe House.

A number of films were shown over the days of the event, the first of which is ‘I Am Sofia’. This film was screened 19 September at Kinema Millenium and a Q&A with the director took place afterwards.

On the 20 September, there was a screening of a film called ‘Until Porn Do Us Part’ at the Academy of Film & Multimedia. The protagonist of the film, Sydney Riviera was also in the attendance and he was answering questions from the audience after the screening.

On 21 September it was a matinee of films ‘Scar Tissue’, ‘High Tide’, and ‘Up Close and Personal’ which was shown at Europe House.In attendance were Dutch LGBT police officers Marja Lust and Abdel Late, and a Q&A will take place.

The last day of event 22 September took the shape of a presentation of the final results of the filmmaking training undertaken by Youth Artists for Change Project including individuals from both Albania and Kosovo.


ERA – Seven Grants awarded for LGBTQ+ Arts Projects

ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey in cooperation with member organizations - Da Se Zna! and Come Out, as well as with Stichting Art 1 from the Netherlands, within the project “Youth Artivists for Change” awarded seven grants for LGBTI Arts projects.

ERA awarded seven grants to the young LGBTI people from Serbia, whom are expressing their activism through specific activities, as well as through the LGBTI arts and culture project and initiatives. All awarded projects are related to the film production, podcasts, storytelling, theater performance, DRAG culture and other art forms that candidates founded interesting and relevant.

Apart from distributing seven grants for LGBTI Arts projects, ERA will provide awarded grantees with a safe working space (IdeaLab in Belgrade and in Novi Sad) which is equipped for audio and video recording, as well as for montage and editing programmes and tools. Beside equipment all awarded grantees will be provided with mentoring during the preparation and implementation process of the projects.

The project “Youth Artivists for Change” is a creative alliance of five countries, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, the Netherlands and Serbia, and targets young people, aged 15-24, in the fields of film-making, storytelling, podcasting, youth advocacy, theatre and art in general. The alliance gathers 17 organisations and networks working in the fields of arts, culture, human/LGBTI rights, gender equality and youth work. The project, is an idea of Dutch organisation Stichting Art 1 and is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The implementing organisations for Serbia are ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for the Western Balkans and Turkey, Da Se Zna and Come Out. ERA’s member organisations CEL KosovoLGBTI Support Center MacedoniaSubversive Front MacedoniaWomen's Alliance in Macedonia and Open Mind Spectrum Albania are also partners for this project in the other three countries.


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
festivals.

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.


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