Review: Routine (2018), by Bekim Guri

Alban Sylejmani lives his street life in the town of Ferizaj in Kosovo and his routine lack of food and shelter and being regularly getting beaten up either by his drunken father or his peers, is interrupted only through the visits by the documentary filmmaker Bekim Guri.  The only thing that the documentarist can to do help is occasionally buying him or giving him some food, and Alban is grateful enough to let Bekim film him. He is answering the questions sincerely and tell his own stories from the streets. Year after year after year…

The short documentary Routine that Bekim Guri has assembled serves as an examination on both universal topic of homelessness in the contemporary world and the fragility of the young state of Kosovo unable to deal with such issues on the institutional level. We can assume that Alban’s case is far from being the only one, yet the stigma he has to deal with, apart from often being hungry, surviving a tragedy after tragedy and feeling unwanted, is hard. And, what is most important, he is sympathetic enough as a character so we can trust him and stick with him.

Bekim Guri aims for the raw, guerilla-like feeling, filming by himself with a hand-held camera in uninterrupted dynamic shots straight from the streets. Guri is never seen in frame, but he makes his presence known by asking questions and making suggestions to his protagonist, making their interaction feel genuine. On the other hand, employing the non-linear editing in covering the time span of several years in which we see Alban always dealing with the same issues, not only adds to the overall dynamism of the film, but also fits perfectly as a social statement.

Title: Routine
Country: Kosovo
Language: Albanian
Running Time: 14′
Year: 2018
Director/ Cinematographer: Bekim Guri
Production: Bekim Guri Stone Production
Producers: Bekim Guri & Albina Hoti
Editing: Bekim Guri & Valon Jakupaj