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The air is filled with music, calls to prayer, and conversations over macchiato. The laughter of children and adults alike echoes along the winding streets. The smell of çebap wafts throughout the city, inviting people into restaurants to share a meal. Toddlers weave their way in between strangers in games of tag, giggling away. Strangers share a refreshing drink of water at the communal spring taps around the city: a place where age, background, and language don’t matter. It seems like all of Kosovo is here to enjoy the one-and-only, highly-anticipated festival: Dokufest.

Dokufest is a popular annual film festival which brings local and international artists, as well as art-appreciators, to Prizren, an ancient city built along a river. Throughout the year, organizations and companies prepare for the event, collaborating with filmmakers, writers, poets and designers to create works of art. The United Nations Kosovo Team (UNKT) worked for several months on the creation of an interactive area to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The UNKT area, conveniently located next to the river, near the bridge closest to the Sinan Pasha mosque, features mirror installations, inspired by the “Reflect” theme of this year’s Dokufest. The main attraction is the two back-to-back mirrors which allow participants to look at themselves with a photo in the background, which represents an SDG. The most popular photo, thus far, is the gender-balanced police officers versus the all-male photo of firefighters (representing SDG 5, Gender Equality). Participants are able to place themselves in various situations and reflect, both literally and symbolically, on what they believe the significance of the situation is. For instance, a participant would be asked about their thoughts and feelings on an all-male firefighting team.

There is also an installation by UN Women, a close partner of UNKT, to represent SDG 5: Gender Equality. Their mirrors allow participants to reflect on gender roles. Using phrases on small magnets, visitors place the magnets which they believe the other sex should embody through behaviours, actions, and words, on the mirror. Many of the magnets featured gender stereotypes, such as “A woman should clean the house.” Participants are then able to evaluate the gender stereotypes within society, including how they harm both men and women.

The UNKT area also features a large SDG banner as well promotional material, which enables UN interns and staff to interact with visitors, teach them about the SDGs and answer their questions about how the SDGs can be applied within Kosovo.

Thus far, the UNKT section has been well-received by visitors of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities. Younger children have put together SDG puzzles, youth have been taking selfies with the SDG mirror installation and promoting the #DokUNfest hashtag through their social media, and older adults have read through informational materials. Each participant was engaged, asked insightful questions, and left the booth with information on Sustainable Development Goals. Visitors have been from multiple countries, municipalities within Kosovo, age groups, and ethnic backgrounds, yet they all have one thing in common: they want to change and improve the world they live in.

Our goal for Dokufest is to promote the SDGs and encourage locals to take small steps in their daily lives to help reach the targets of the SDGs by 2030. While Kosovo has significant development work left to do, the dedication, positivity and confidence of residents, both young and old, is promising. Kosovo has one of the youngest populations in Europe, but even the older generations are young at heart: no one gives up on the work that needs to be done, and nearly everyone is committed to making Kosovo a better place. That level of dedication is what makes Kosovo and its people so special.

Come by our area at Dokufest to participate in our exhibit yourself! We will at our area every day from 9:00am to 8:00pm and would be thrilled to introduce you to our stations. The final day of Dokufest is on August 11th, 2018, so make sure to drop by our area before then!

Written by Sarah Tenus, Communications and Parliamentary Intern

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