August 14-20 was the best week I’ve had in Kosovo. HANDS DOWN! I volunteered at the Anibar Animation Festival in Peja, Kosovo.
The Anibar Animation Festival began eight years ago. It was founded by my friend’s counterpart, when he was only 17. (What was I doing at age 17? Certainly not founding international film festivals.)
My friend had asked me if I would be the festival’s Jury Coordinator. I told him I would think about it. The next thing I knew, I was having a meeting with his counterpart, where we discussed my role as the Jury Coordinator. I walked out of the meeting thinking, “Wait! Did I ever … agree … to be the Jury Coordinator?”
I’m not going to lie, I was dreading the whole thing. I pictured a bunch of high-powered Hollywood types who would call me in the middle of the night to make strange demands. Turns out, I was wrong to be so worried.
The jury was comprised of five lovely people who came from Spain, Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, and the United States.
I met many new people from all over the world. At one point, I was at lunch, and all four of us spoke different native languages (French, Chinese, English, and Albanian). I love that my native language is the one used to facilitate communication between people who speak other languages.
I also saw many films. The festival had two theaters, plus two screens they set up in a local park.
I loved some films, and hated others. Below are two of my favorite films shorts that were shown at the festival. (Warning: Don’t watch these if your boss or your kids are in the room!)
Volunteering at the Anibar Animation Festival also meant I got to spend time in Peja, which is my favorite city in Kosovo. I mean, would you look at this view?
Even the weather cooperated, by backing away from the 100-degree mark.
I miss the little routine I developed every morning, where I bought iced coffee (!!!) and went to the Anibar theater to hang out with my friends (and the newly rescued theater kitten) before the start of the festival’s daily activities.
It was a week full of friends, film screenings, workshops, talks, a gallery opening, and free food and drinks.
The pouring rain on the night of the closing ceremony forced people to abandon the after-party at the park and stay at the theater. Group karaoke broke out across the theater’s stage and balcony. The night ended with a group of people dancing in the flooded streets of Peja.
Yeah, it was my best week in Kosovo …