In 2003 during one my trips to Kosovo as a film director I met students from the University of Pristina. The setting of their city and their country, still carrying the scars of war and reconstruction, did not match their character. The media filter continued to roll out non stop the Balkans message – war, looting, rape and murder. However, despite the war, the ruthlessness, the loss of their friends, their loved ones, the citizens are determined to succeed and have an incredible zest for life. I am referring here to the Kosovans but the facts are similar in the majority of the Balkan countries.
My confrontation with these young people also reminded me what the European Union granted and to be grateful for an area of peace and democracy. Meanwhile, we have lived in this region from birth and we perhaps are no longer aware of this vital aspect.
Being in the country itself also made me discover their universal music. Their traditional music which is alive and present in all aspects of daily life, is proof of their cultural crossbreeding and a coming together of the Orient and the Occident. It is this culture prism that was to be used as the basis for my documentary. The plot was going to be weaved around the guiding thread which is music.
On returning to Belgium I thought that I should produce more than just a single documentary on this extremely rich topic. My idea to “transform the idea of the time bomb of the Balkans into a cultural powder keg,’ to help to transgress borders in principle through their music, could certainly be done more effectively than by the initial audiovisual project.
From that moment, I decided to produce a festival, the first of its kind in Belgium, to put to the fore traditional music, electronic music and cinematic artists who originate from south-eastern Europe.
After more than 7 years of encounters, meetings, trips, learning and in the light of the feed-back from the festival-goers and artists as well as from the media, the team of 1001 valises is aware that Balkan Trafik is much more than a « Balkans vs Europe » festival.
The festival enables people of all the communities in Brussels to see how rich their culture is and to share it with others in the famous Centre for Fine Arts of Brussels during three days.
The story goes on…
Instigator and producer of Balkan Trafik