The Anibar Animation Festival started in Peja, Kosovo on Monday and continues through the end of the week.
If you’re thinking that Kosovo sounds like an unlikely place for an animation festival, well, you’d be right. A small landlocked country in the Balkan Peninsula, its size slightly smaller than Connecticut, the territory is mostly known to Americans from newspaper headlines. It was the site of a brutal war that took place in the late-1990s. The war ended following a U.S.-led NATO intervention, though tensions continue to simmer between Albanians and Serbs, and the existence of the country remains disputed.
Peja, where the festival takes place, is one of the larger cities in Kosovo with a population of just under 100,000. During the war, 90% of the buildings suffered damage, with many burned down completely. Today, at least in the city center of Peja, the outward signs of conflict have been erased, and the country has found more urgent problems to deal with, like poverty and an unemployment rate that hovers around 30%.
Anibar was founded unofficially in the mid-2000s by a group of teenagers who were no more than 15 years old. “We were trying to make our own animated films,” festival co-founder Vullnet Sanaja told me. “[We were] writing up stories and drawing storyboards, trying to set up scenes and doing some stop motion clay animation, however, we were never able to finish any of our films. We realized we need more people and more skills to finish a film, and a festival looked like the place to have them both.”
Sanaja and festival co-founder Rron Bajri were unable to travel abroad due to the difficulty of obtaining visas, so they decided to bring the festival to them. They waited until they turned 18, at which time they started a non-profit organization. With just a few hundred euros and copies of films that they cobbled together from friends and acquaintances, Anibar officially came into existence in 2010.
Soon, other local teens, like Petrit Gora and Rozafa Imami, began to pitch in with organizational tasks, and the festival grew. Now, in 2017, it has turned into a full-fledged festival attracting important guests from across Europe, as well as Asia and North America.
Read complete article here: