“I don’t believe in omens, or forebodings of fear,” a grave voice whispers. “I flee from neither slander nor poison”.
Placed over soothing images of laundry fluttering against the sky, these verses open the first chapter of Katarzë films’ “Corona Diary”. As lockdown measures were implemented across the globe due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the people of Prishtina were asked to remain home while spring bloomed outside. Searching for a sense of community in isolation, Leart Rama and Redon Kika, co-founders of the Prishtina-based production company, started a video diary of the Kosovan capital under lockdown.
The result is a series of short films which, either shot from windows or during limited state-approved walks, portray the lives, landscapes, and events of quarantine.
In collaboration with several Kosovar poets, each of the short documentaries is narrated through poignant verses that resonate with the theme of the film and intensify its emotional impact. Ranging from the longing for a day by the sea to political protests, each episode of the Corona Diary exposes and expands on a different aspect of life under lockdown in Prishtina.
In the second episode, Home, Kosovar writer Eli Krasniqi expresses the yearning for our loved ones through her poem Shtepia Jem Me Rranje, (The House Is in Ruins”), set over intimate snippets of life on the capital’s balconies.
The third episode, Cak Cak Cak, is a poetic response to the unrest caused by the no-confidence motion presented by the country’s main opposition party Democratic Alliance (LDK) against the Prime Minister Albin Kurti. As was common under the Yugoslav regime, citizens went on their balconies to make noise with iron pots as a sign of protest.
On 27 April, to mark the National Day of Missing Persons from the 1998-1999 war in Kosovo, citizens turned off their electricity for two minutes to pay tribute to the victims. The 12th episode of the Diary, N’terr, remembers the heart-wrenching story of Fatime, a woman who lost her son Reshat to the war in 1998.
Combining fresh, startling footage with mesmerising sounds and a gripping voiceover, the films dig beyond the apparently static reality of the lockdown to uncover the nuances of the collective response of the residents of Prishtina. Poetic and provocative, the Corona Diary is a timeless testimony of the Covid-19 pandemic in Kosovo that is both universally relatable and pressingly local.
You can find the complete series on the YouTube channel of Katarzë Films.