For years now, Anibar has achieved a noticeable position in Kosovo’s cultural portfolio. It’s been almost a decade of hard work and commitment to resisting cultural passivity and absence of diversity in the arts and culture. Each year, we bring together the young and old, from Kosovo and beyond, to celebrate a diverse community of filmmakers, artists and talent. From the beginning, through volunteering efforts and more individuals stepping forward, we have gained the potential to grow and expand beyond political and geographical barriers. We are proudly celebrating eight years of the festival, and we want to become a stronger voice of common interests, a formulation of shared beliefs on how our community sees the artistic expression in turbulent times of a whole political, economic and industrial mess. We have always considered it extremely important: to establish a strong connection amongst communities, to get a strong focus on common issues, which have been excluded from attention in the society before. The festival has come together with the sole purpose of linking paths and people, ultimately to find ways to discover needs necessary to keep us give presence to absence, in the best possible way. Our aim is to bring concrete suggestions and represent our passion for change.
Founded in 2010, Anibar intersected the lack of cultural empathy in the city of Peja. As a non-profit cultural organization, we have strived to build cultural activities with the help of our International Animation Festival. In the past two editions, the festival spoke about Migration and Global Warming, themes that were well received and applauded by many. Since May 2014, we have also “occupied” the only cinema in the city, which had been inactive for the many years following the post-war period. Our film programs, and other groundbreaking initiatives at the cinema have revived an interest to see and experience culture from a new angle. This led to receiving a 15 year lease for the building of the cinema from the city council, to manage it under our administration and creative perspectives, an opportunity which often brought battles and challenges.
This year we have joined forces with others to Reclaim the City, as an official theme and a promising mission of Anibar. Because we believe that public space in Kosovo is a venue that has been exposed to various negative setbacks that caused a disconnection with the local society, we want to reclaim the city from suppression. By reclaiming the city, Anibar aspires to reflect a better-defined social consciousness to interacting with public space. Government regulations and the private sector have been the force behind an ongoing power over how others interact with the city, and as a collective of people who started Anibar seven years ago, we have the urgency to promote that public space belongs to the public. Our theme this year is an initiative that we hope to establish and challenge not only for the edition of the festival, but for the coming years as well. This initiative is a response to an elite of actors who cause disintegration with the public space, and worse: injecting obliviousness and lack of productivity. Our approach to reclamation is a creative signal to the city’s creativity, inviting residents, and even visitors to help us develop and respond to a creative intimacy with space not only when festivals take place. This project intends to explore both the nature and urban landscapes, the old and the brand new, in order to revive the liveliness in the use of space from dullness and lifelessness.
This journey began with our long-time active voice to issues of revitalization of public space against local governmental ownership in Peja. We succeeded to take over the only cinema, and we are in the process of fully opening doors to the public. This achievement has led us to believe that we will continue to remain active in the revitalization of other silenced and abandoned spaces, potentially to appeal to the full realization of its use and wastage. However, we believe that our mission is to involve all the community in this process, people with ideas and activists beyond the borders of the city. We want to constantly encourage people outside of our geo-organisational ground to take lead of their own in the process of the activation and recovery of other public spaces. This initiative has not only consulted, but will be embracing perspectives of and from fields of expertise, such as anthropology of space, urbanism, culture, environment, and historical preservation. And most importantly, the voice of the people. That is why we are constantly aiming to keep a progressing spirit of work in our organization with everyone involved: residents, artists, experts, researchers, storytellers, and visitors. We are bringing together every voice to compose a song that speaks to the city. And Peja will only become an anthem of how buildings, history, locations and ethos can be used for the good of the community in other cities as well, and how this song can become a major hit that keeps a city singing and dancing to its heritage, to what the past and present give us to remember, use and live.