Kosovo - Cutting the Lifeline

From the ten-part Documentary series "Balkan Express"

A Film by Gernot Stadler

Documentary drama, 52 min, 2006/07
Directed by
Gernot Stadler
Werner Veits, Klaus Achter
ORF Enterprise

On 17 February 2008, the former Serbian province of Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. For the approximately 90% of Kosovo Albanians, this is the first time in their history, where the dream of state independence becomes true. But the road to an economically stable country, that can also offer its inhabitants a promising future, is long and stony.

The film “Kosovo – Cutting the Lifeline” documents the life of the people of Kosovo on the threshold of independence. Traditional large family structures in the countryside are still the only way for many people to survive economically. In the 1970s and 1980s, many Kosovo Albanians immigrated to Germany, Austria or Switzerland in order to ensure the survival of their families at home as so-called guest workers. Money from the diaspora was and still is the main source of income for countless families. However, since the establishment of a UN administration, after the war in 2000, and the drastic tightening of visa requirements, Kosovo Albanians have hardly been able to go abroad in Western Europe.

The film juxtaposes the daily life of farmers in the countryside with life in the capital Prishtina, where small-family structures have largely replaced the old Albanian extended family. Thousands of people have found work in international organizations. Those, who can afford it, send their children to study at the local university.