I mentioned the existence of these episodes on social media a couple of months ago, actually two years ago, and FINALLY here they are. After taking the final steps into my own hands (i.e. having them subtitled as best I could, cut down into shorter clips for those with shorter attention spans, and uploading them to YouTube) – I’m pleased to present the Wiki Loves Monuments video project I worked on in partnership with the Institute for the Protection of Monuments in Kosovo, Kosovo Ministry of Culture and FLOSSK.
I don’t know if you have ever heard about this website called Wikipedia, but this project stemmed from an annual competition they organize called “Wiki Loves Monuments” where people can upload images of cultural heritage sites and monuments from their home country to Wikimedia Commons (a public domain media database) and win prizes. Kosovo has participated since 2014 and by 2016 they were looking for more unique ways to promote the end results. As luck – or whatever you want to call it – would have it, I had already been talking for months to IPMK/IKMM and anyone who would listen about producing some fresh video content about culture in Kosovo around the same time. Many, many coffees (and rakias) later, this idea of making some videos together to highlight some of the cultural heritage of Kosovo in conjunction with Wiki Loves Monuments was finally born.
Next step was to assemble a team, and not just any team, but the best team. Thinking it would be a little boring just following me around, I immediately called up one of my best girlfriends, Marigona Nila, who happened to be a TV presenter in Albania at the time. Originally from Peja, she admittedly had not done much cultural exploration in her home country yet so, needless to say, she was more than happy to come over and partake in the project with me.
As for the videographer, we were fortunate enough to enlist one of the best in the biz for a couple of days, Berat Hasani from PINKMOON, who you can usually find creating beautiful music videos for all the top musicians in Kosovo. On sound we had Mic Master Pellumb Ballata making sure we could be heard. Good ol’ Gazi Bajri stepped in for a bit of additional filming, as well as edited both episodes (which have since been turned into four), and his brother Ilir Bajri, an extremely talented musician and the founder of Prishtina Jazz Festival, composed all the music, recorded my voiceovers, and created the computer graphics. Oh yeah, and then there was Bresta…our producer…who despite his questionable communication skills (JK Bresta, love you long time even though you still haven’t responded to any of my emails) is responsible for pulling it all together in the end. Talk about a motley crew…
I hope you can imagine after hearing all the background to this and seeing some of the beautiful footage why it simply HURT knowing how much work and talent went into the production of these videos, yet after their showing at the Wiki Loves Monuments awards ceremony in March 2017, they remained buried in a hard drive only to be lost or forgotten. Like, no one cared about them or even wanted to talk about them ever again.
Sorry, guys, not on my watch.
While these videos are far from perfect (I mean, we didn’t even have a script or real plan, just some knowledgable people to meet at the various sites) and they were kind of thrown together at the last-minute, something a bit different floating out there on YouTube pertaining to the cultural heritage of Kosovo is better than nothing in my opinion. One of my biggest frustrations while living in Kosovo was witnessing so many half-ass or dead-end projects, especially in cultural heritage and tourism, so even though it took longer than it should have, I just wanted to make sure this didn’t become one of them and lived on somewhere for someone interested in the culture of Kosovo to see – even if it was never my responsibility.
Regardless of how much I would have done differently and how many more sites and monuments I would have tried to include, in the end I’m proud of this project and thankful to have played a part in it alongside so many talented people. I learned a lot more about the places I had been to many times before but never knew their full history, I met so many interesting characters who in some way or another became invaluable contacts, and at the end of the day, we accomplished our primary goal of showcasing some culture heritage in Kosovo.
You can find the full list of all photo contributions for WLM in Kosovo on Wikipedia here
Would like to give one more shout out to all the people who made this possible – Marigona Nila, Berat Hasani, Bresta, Pellumb Ballata, Gazi Bajri, Ilir Bajri, Alban Bakija, Arianit Dobroshi, and the crew at Prishtina Hackerspace. CALL ME, mofos, if you want to do it again ❤