blogEast is a new initiative of goEast - Festival of Central- and Eastern European Film. We hereby declare our solidarity with our colleagues and friends from Central- and Eastern Europe, who see themselves confronted with large challenges because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Within the following weeks blog entries will be published here, looking at the situation from a cinematic, political and/or social point of view. blogEast is supervised and edited by the goEast team and is part of the program Pan-Europan Picknick, supported by the Kulturfonds Frankfurt Rhein Main.
COVID-19 came a bit late in Kosovo. For a while we thought we were special as there were registered cases everywhere around us but not in Kosovo. We were even praising our isolation and our inability to travel visa-free for keeping us safe from this virus. Yet, we were not immune to it and on March 13 Kosovo registered its first two cases. Our government had already started taking a few measures, however, with the first cases confirmed it decided to quarantine the two cities where the cases were registered. Cases continue to appear in other parts of Kosovo as well, and we are in a complete lockdown now.
Kosovo is special and our politicians continue to make sure we are not bored during this lockdown. Just when it should have been devising a local response to the pandemic, the government lost a no-confidence vote brought in by one of the coalition partners. This threw our nation into a political turmoil. Instead of debating ways to battle the virus our politicians were busy throwing venom at each other while the health sector was facing more and more challenges everyday.
Citizens of the capital city Prishtina have taken to banging pots and pans on their balconies to express their anger about the politicians. This reminded me so much of a few scenes from my last film "Cold November". Everything was the same, except for the cause.
As the coronavirus continues to spread rapidly, we are staying inside.
We'll get bored, frustrated, lonely, angry, and stressed. Humans don't like to be thrown out of their routines.
But let's be optimistic and focus on the bright side of the story. Life under quarantine isn't that bad after all. Let's use this time to reflect and to be closer to each other. Lockdown, social distancing and isolation can't last forever. While staying inside is a necessity, people have found ways to uplift their mood and adapt to the new normal.
Art has become a therapy. It helps process and cope with life's challenges these days. Our local TV stations and internet platforms are broadcasting more local films, and general audience reacts fantastically to it.
Take care of your health and protect others, because more hugs are just about to come!
Ismet Sijarina is a Film Director and Scriptwriter living in Kosovo. He directs short films and was focused on documentary films for many years. His films such as BEYOND THE RAINBOW (documentary) or COLD NOVEMBER were shown at many international film festivals and won numerous awards. Ismet is engaged deeply in the film industry in Kosovo, he was a Board Member of the Kosovo Film Center and works as a Lecturer in the University of Prishtina. He also is a Member of the European Film Academy.