'Films, Excellent Opportunity to Discuss about Topics that Might Be Ignored'
Albanian Daily News
Published September 18, 2017
Remarks at Marubi Film Academy by Ambassador Bernd Borchardt, Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania

Art has a curious way of bringing people together; it has meaning and relevance for all people, regardless of their national, cultural or social backgrounds. Through art we can be moved to think in ways that we would not have thought possible; it helps to shape our world views and inspires change.

It is with this spirit in mind that the Marubi Film Academy in Tirana has organized this human rights film festival every year for the past 12 years. Every autumn, year after year, the festival attracts artists, civil society, State Institutions and others from all around the word. The remarkable thing is that we are all here not just because of an appreciation of art but also because of a desire that this appreciation leads to a fuller and deeper understanding of current human rights issues.

The OSCE Presence in Albania is proud to be with you again, as a long-standing friend of the film festival. In the 20 years of the OSCE continued engagement in Albania, we firmly voice our support, throughout our daily activities, to the promotion of human rights.

In particular, this year, I compliment the Academy's Director, Mr. Cashku, for having chosen "Radicalization" and "Populism" as two of the main topics of the film festival. The OSCE has also seen the great need to grapple with these topics at the heart of the festival this year and has also reached to the arts to do so. In fact, last June, an exhibition supported by the OSCE was on show at the Fine Arts Gallery (FAB) featuring the best entries submitted by students of the Tirana University of Art. The topic "Radicalization" reflected the preventive efforts to address violent extremisms by stimulating a dialogue around the phenomena, especially among youth.

We have seen racism and nationalism tightening their grip in Europe and the world at the moment. Fundamental conditions for a democracy, such as respect for facts, freedom of the press and the equal value of all people, are flagrantly ignored. However, this trend is a complex one, and alongside the very worrying incidents we have seen occurring there is a greater openness and commitment to the equal value of all people. The variety of films the International Human Rights Film Festival Albania is presenting over the coming days really shows this.

Albania is in a unique position to speak about radicalism and populism. Under a dictatorship for nearly half a century, the country experienced the most insidious distortion of populism: a people who were brutalized in its own name. Now Albania has a new and rare reputation, as a country with an approach to religious co-habitation that shows how people of different faiths can live in harmony with each other.

This year's films offer an excellent opportunity to discuss about delicate topics that might be ignored or side-lined. This is the essence of the film festival, an opportunity for us. It is a democratic forum which brings together strangers and gives fresh stimuli for dialogue.

Finally, let me extend my congratulation to the Academy's staff and its Director, who made this event possible once more. Thank you to the filmmakers and their movies who move us to speak out, to act, for ourselves and for those who cannot.

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