International Literary Festival “Pro-Za Balkan” 2019/Synergy: literature, film, music

The 7th International Literature Festival Pro-Za Balkans, which brings together well-established authors from Balkan countries, was held in Skopje from 19-22 May 2019.

The award of the International Literature Festival “PRO-ZA Balkan”, the “Prozart” award, awarded to a prominent author for his contribution towards the development of the literature on the Balkans, in this year of 2019, with a unanimous decision of the Prize Awarding Board, goes to the exceptional prose writer from Bulgaria, Alek Popov.

Also the award for 2018 was given to the writer from Serbia, Svetislav Basara (because of health reasons, he wasn’t able to come to Skopje in 2018).  

Participants were Jagoda Mihajlovska-Georgieva (MK), Turkish writer and scriptwriter Tarik Tufan, Slovenian writer Jedrt Lapuh Malezic, Serbian writers Teofil Pancic and Svetislav Basara and Ivica Prtenjaca from Croatia. Winner of the “Prozart” award was Alek Popov. The special guest of the festival was Turkish writer, scriptwriter and actor, Ercan Kesal, known as the scriptwriter of “Once upon a time in Anatolia” by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Within “PRO-ZA Balkan” festival, “Skopje fellowship program” was held for the sixth time. “Skopje Fellowship” program is dedicated to foreign publishers, festival directors and program managers, literary agents and scouts. Macedonia is among the first countries in the region to establish a program dedicated to such a profile of guests, and continues with the same intensity.

The objective of the Fellowship Program is to familiarize the stakeholders of the prominent festivals and the world of publishers with the Macedonian literary scene, which, we hope, would result in new translations, visits of Macedonian writers abroad, promotion of the Macedonian and Balkan literature, networking of writers and cultural workers in the area of publishing and literature with their European and worldwide colleagues, increasing the interest for the Macedonian literature abroad…

Participants were Pierre Astier – Literary Agency Astier-Pécher (France), Bettina Wörgötter – Paul Zsolnay & Deuticke, (Austria) and Katja Urbanija – Goga, (Slovenia).

They had important meetings with publishers and writers from Skopje. Of course, writers and guests from the Balkans had the valuable opportunity to present and develop cooperation. Thus, the best way in practice we conducted the purpose of more EU culture programs, and also our goal – networking of writers from the region with publishers and literary agents from non-Balkan countries in Europe and elsewhere.

We are sure that with this activity new translations of the writers from the Balkans will arise abroad, and will certainly remain valuable contacts between publishers and writers.

Also, the festival organized round table “Literature, fear, politics” at the EU Info Center, where guest writers and the members form the “Skopje Fellowship Program” were participants.

The festival venues, Daut Pasha hamam, EU info center and Cinematheque were full with audience and media response was immense – and not only in Macedonia – numerous news regarding the Prozart award were published in Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Slovenia too.

From 2019 the festival introduced interdisciplinary approach to it’s agenda, so the screening of the film “Mission London” (script by Alek Popov) was held at the Cinematheque of North Macedonia. Also, professional musician (Goce Jovanoski from “Foltin”) and music student worked on the project “Musicians’ cut” and performed experimental sound impression from the “Mission London” movie, while, during the process of (re)composing, Jovanoski presented the basics for creating film music to the student.   

The moto of this festival edition was “Synergy: literature, film, music”.