Milazim Salihu • Distributor
by Vladan Petkovic
29/04/2010 - Distributor-exhibitor Genci, based in Pristina, Kosovo, is the first such company in the territory, and so far the only one actually functioning. Since it took over a city-owned company in 1999, although not yet completely privatized, it has distributed a number of European films, most recently Lorna’s Silence [trailer, film focus], Revolutionary Road [trailer] and Albanian titles Us And Lenin and Lindje, Perendim, Lindje.
Cineuropa: What is the state of distribution and exhibition in Kosovo?
Milazim Salihu: It’s disastrous. Nothing functions properly, although a film law was established in 2005. There is a Kosovo Film Centre, with a modest budget of €400,000 (funds for one feature film, four documentaries and three fiction shorts). But none of this helps because exhibition is destroyed and there are no more cinemas in Kosovo, except our two in Pristina.
The main problem is that none of the cinemas have been privatized yet and the old companies are not working, so we don’t have a real exhibition network. Genci took over the former city-owned exhibition company Nikola Tesla in 1999, and we work under Kosovo’s Privatization Agency.
How many distributors are there and how is your company run?
Genci is the only serious company actually distributing films and exhibiting them. Our partners are Continental Film in Zagreb [Croatia], which provides US titles; Megacom Film from Belgrade [Serbia], through which we get European films; and Imperial from Tirana [Albania]. We also buy some films independently from companies in Bosnia, Croatia, Albania and Macedonia.
Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe. What kinds of films do they like to watch?
They are very well informed and they want to see all the current hits. The highest grosser last year was 2012, which sold 12,000 admissions. Unfortunately, there are not enough screens to play all the films that are in demand. That’s why we are hoping that soon a big international company will enter the Kosovo market and that then we can build multiplexes, which would be feasible. If there was a multiplex with 12 screens, including 3D, there would be room for US, European, regional and local titles.
Another big problem is piracy. Two days after the world premiere of any film, there’s a subtitled, pirate DVD for €1.50 and neither the government nor Eulex [the EU administrative body supervising Kosovo] are doing anything to stop it.
Kosovo produces a significant number of documentaries. Where can they be seen and are there other possibilities for showing independent films?
There is no room for Kosovar documentaries in cinemas, and apparently not on TV either, so they can be seen at festivals such as Dokufest in Prizren and Skena/Up in Pristina. For the past ten years we have been cooperating with the embassies of France, Turkey, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland and others, organizing revues of European films so there is no lack of them.
Kosovo has a lot of problems with electricity and water shortages. How does a distribution company work under those circumstances?
In 1999 and 2000 we bought generators so that we can ensure proper screenings. The situation with electricity is now a bit better, but we’re still often using generators.