This closing blog I have had in my agenda ever since Femart festival ended, alongside four other blogs which still remain only as notes in my notebook. Where do I start?First of all, this festival has created a community of artists and activists – which might sound like nothing, but it isn’t, especially for a feminist festival. The conversations I’ve had during the festival, on the presentation of violence in theatrical performances, on the history of political and feminist activism in the Balkans, the similarities of the challenges that Kosovo and Jordan face, are not conversations I have every day – and they are very welcome when they happen.
Second, it is a great achievement for every festival when there is space created for young creators. If Femart did not exist, I would have never have met with slam poet Flutura Balaj. Balaj is a high school student and performed her poetry for the first time this year, on the festival’s second evening. “I was only twelve years old,” she says, when she started hating her body – and continues with a story on her growth in this toxic culture that awaits girls from the moment they enter puberty. I have seen myself in her poetry, and this does not happen often.
Third, the diversity in stories shared through films, performances, and concerts has been astoundingly rich – and harder still to be summarized in a few words. With the film “Bota”, we see an Albania that holds as much beauty as it does pain, in “Copë Copë” the everyday brutality against women in Kosovo is given a voice and a face, in “Colours of August” we see how a story written in Spain takes on different nuances in Kosovo, Rina Kaçinari reinterprets what we would otherwise consider “serious” music, Christine Salem sent the audience straight from the Oda Theater to Reunion Island, “Private Confessions” proves how trauma is inherited through generations. There is much more than I have been able to follow along with, and I am still disappointed at my inability to watch the play, “Silent Sky”.
Fourth, the panels – usually I avoid them as much as I can, but this year the topics were feminist and not spoken on as often as they should: cultural representation, abortion and body autonomy, views on property, and the role of feminist men as allies. In normal conditions these conversations happen primarily in private spaces, even though they are essential for a healthier and more equal society.
Fifth, with every edition of the festival the history of feminist creation in Kosovo becomes richer. As I said in my first blog, Why Kosovo Needs Feminist Festivals, events like Femart fill a historical void. In this historical lack of women creators in an Albanian context, it is important that we leave this legacy in the present. Telling stories is just as much an artistic act as it is political – and most stories I experienced in Femart challenge the past, give a voice to those forced silent, and aim for unlimited opportunities in the future.
Until the next edition, Hana