Let us introduce you to director Samir Karahoda from Kosovo, who is participating in this year’s Berlinale Shorts competition — with the first Kosovar film at Berlinale Shorts ever!
Born in Prizren, Kosovo in 1977, he began to working as a photographer in 1992. In 2003 he completed a photography degree at the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul, where he is currently a postgraduate student. Alongside his work as a photographer, he is also a cinematographer and lecturer and curates the short film programme at the DokuFest International Documentary Film Festival in Prizren. Në Mes (In Between) is his directorial debut.
In the age of globalisation, digitalisation and over 68 million refugees worldwide, questions arise. What, where and when is homeland? What is ‘Leitkultur’ (‘defining culture’)? A leading German politician even advocated the establishment of a ‘Heimat’ (‘homeland’) ministry. Në Mes examines traditional family and patriarchal values and ideas. In rural Kosovo, fathers build identical houses for their sons. These sons live all over the place, anywhere except Kosovo. The houses embody the love, longing and hope of those who stayed at home for those who went to work abroad that they will one day return and settle here again. In practise however, they only ever come back for family celebrations and funerals. Although they feel connected to the homeland and culture of their childhood and youth, they also feel alienated. Do they even want to return? So while the houses are symbols of family equality and unity, they are also castles in the air.
What is your ambition in the film?
The filmmaking style reflects my process of understanding this phenomena allowing me to try and reflect this to others through careful observational portraiture of the families as well as my inner reflections of the vision I’d been seeing for a long time — houses all in a row, all of them exactly the same, all of them sitting empty. Other topics began to emerge that further explained this curious occurrence. Film is strongly concentrated on the visual image, mainly through static images of the houses, details of construction, portraits of fathers and brothers and the geographical position of the whereabouts of houses.
What do you like about the short form?
It’s a nice step to test personal creative boundaries and in the other side it’s a form that gives the filmmaker a chance to share its story faster and cheaper to the audience!
What are your future plans?
I’m „In between“ so still couldn’t decide what I’m going to do in the future… Whatever I work on in the future, I will be shooting and framing it myself, it’s a nice experience.
24 films from 17 countries will be competing for the Golden and Silver Bear, the Audi Short Film Award, endowed with 20,000 euros, and a nomination as “Berlin Short Film Candidate for the European Film Awards 2019”.
Still wanna know more? There’s a Q&A with Samir Karahoda on The New Current, too.