Mirë se vjen! Welcome.
I hope this list can be a journey of discovery. Access to Albanian cinema has been limited in many countries, though youtube is useful for Albanian speakers. I’ve read 1 Albanian book, The Palace of Dreams, by Kadare, excellent. I’ve done a couple of Albanian-linked threads. And i’ve seen Albania across the sea from Kerkira/Corfu. Michael Palin visited for his Eastern Europe TV series. But it remains an enticing enigma wrapped in a mystery
I’m doing a mix of indigenous Albanian films- Skanderbeg (Soviet co-production), Her Children, Intervista, Slogans, Give Me the Colors, Now I See, East West East, Amnesty, Agon, the Albanian-Serbian co-production Honeymoons- and also films set and shot elsewhere involving Albanians e.g Eternity and a Day, Lorna’s Silence, The Albanian. I’m even including some films with scenes referring to Albania, like the football match commentary in The White Bus, and the Albanian tape in Inside Man. The British comedy star Norman Wisdom, a plucky mischievous little working class hero against the snobbish establishment, has been a big star in Albania, where his films were given the green light for popular viewing under the Communist regime. Actors James and John Belushi had Albanian parents, Gjon Mili the US-based photographer and director of the excellent short film Jammin’ the Blues was from Albania. —
The first public showings began in the cities of Shkodër and Korçë; these showings were of foreign films. The first Albanian films were mostly documentaries, the first film being about the Manastir Congress that sanctioned the Albanian alphabet in 1908.
The Communist period
After World War II, the communist government founded the Albanian Film Institute in 1945, which became Kinostudio Shqipëria e Re in 1952. This was followed by the first Albanian epic film, Skënderbeu, a cooperation with Soviet artists chronicling the life and fight of Albanian national hero Skanderbeg. The film won an award from the Cannes Film Festival. Two other known films from the time are Fëmijët e saj (Her sons) and Tana. Tana is known as the first Albanian movie, and also as the first movie that has a kiss scene in the history of the Albanian movies.
In the 1960s, films concentrated mostly on the subject of the World War II occupation of Albanian by Italian and German armies and the fight for liberation. The movies had strong positive connotation towards the communist partisans and bad connotation toward the forces of Balli Kombëtar, and they are viewed as state propaganda. Some of the directors of the time were Dhimitër Anagnosti, Viktor Gjika, Gëzim Erebara, and Piro Milkani.
In the 1970s, there was a drastic reduction in the number of imported movies as a result of the cultural and political isolationist campaign by the state. This resulted in an increase of production in movies to five or six a year early on and up to 8 or 10 a year by the end of the decade, peaking at 14 movies a year in the 1980s. The genre of movies was also diversified to include dramatic as well as family and children movies. Two the movies of the time were Beni ecën vetë, directed by Xhanfize Keko in 1975, and the comedy Kapedani, directed by Fehmi Hoshafi and Muharrem Fejzo in 1972. A new cadre of directors of the time was composed by Rikard Ljarja, Sajmir Kumbaro, Ibrahim Muçaj, Kristaq Mitro, and Esat Mysliu. This period also marked the start of artistic and made-for-TV movies such as Udha e shkronjave, a movie directed by V. Prifti in 1978.
Some Albanian movies made during the 1980s were Ballë për ballë; directed by Kujtim Çashku and Pirro Milkani in 1979; Dora e ngrohtë, directed by Kujtim Çashku in 1983; Agimet e stinës së madhe, directed by Albert Minga in 1981; Kohë e largët, directed by Spartak Pecani in 1983; and Tela për violinë, directed by Bujar Kapexhiu in 1987.
In the 1970s and 1980s, there were also 20—40 documentaries produced that dealt in cultural elements as well as propaganda. This period also saw the birth of animated films, with Zana dhe Miri by V. Droboniku and T. Vaso in 1975; animated films numbered around 16 a year.
These cinematic works were the result of a great cooperative effort by the Kinostudio, various directors, writers, composers, actors as well as influences by the state that formed an entire industry. By 1990, about 200 movies had been produced. By the end of the 1980s, Albania had over 450 theaters. However, most of the equipment was aging and disintegrating.
During the 1990s, the change of the communist form of government to a more democratic one led to a big change in the Albanian cinema. The big conglomerate Kinostudio of old was broken up into several smaller studios, movies started to be produced in private studios by the old directors and even some foreign ones, but in conjunction with the new National Center of Cinematography (Qendra Kombëtare e Kinematografisë).
Although new movies are being produced, many Albanians have returned to watching and enjoying the old movies, now shown on the various private television stations. The old propagandistic elements are now more a source of comedy than hate, and the early style is much appreciated.
Some of the most acclaimed recent movies include Kolonel Bunker, Parullat (Slogans), Dasma e Sakos, Tirana Year Zero, and Porta Eva.
In the late 1990s, many new cinema theaters were built, especially in the bigger cities (such as “Millennium” in the capital city of Tirana) that mostly show western and more prominently American movies.
TIRANA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (since 2003)
Now added to the site:
The Great Albanian Warrior Skanderbeg (Yutkevich)
“Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg (16 May 1405 – 17 January 1468; Albanian: Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu, widely known as Skanderbeg, Turkish İskender Bey, meaning “Lord Alexander” or “Leader Alexander”), or Iskander Beg, was a prominent historical figure in the history of Albania and of the Albanian people. Known as the Dragon of Albania, he is the national hero of the Albanians and initially through the work of his main biographer, Marin Barleti, is remembered for his struggle against the Ottoman Empire, whose armies he successfully ousted from his native land for more than two decades."
Missing from the site:
The Sadness of Mrs Snajdrova (Milkani)
Dear Enemy (Gjergj Xhuvani, 2004)
Pylli i Lirise, (Gezim Erebara, 1976)
Father and Godfather (Dhimiter Anagnosti, 2006)
A Tale From the Past (Dhimiter Anagnosti, 1987)
Tirana Year Zero (Fatmir Koci, 2001)
Black Flowers (Mevlan Shanaj 2003)
Alive (Minarolli)- “In a country where tradition is constantly at war with modernity, Koll is a college student set on enjoying his youth to the fullest. When his father dies and he is forced to assume responsibility for an ancient crime, Koll is thrust into the gruesome, feudal heart of contemporary Albania”
Albania is a member of the United Nations, NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of Europe, World Trade Organisation, Organisation of the Islamic Conference and one of the founding members of the Union for the Mediterranean. Albania has been a potential candidate for accession to the European Union since January 2003, and it formally applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009.
Albania is a parliamentary democracy and a transition economy. The Albanian capital, Tirana, is home to approximately 607,467 of the country’s 3.6 million people, (80% Muslim) and it is also the financial capital of the country. For much of its history, Albania has been occupied (or claimed) by Greece, Italy and, for 500 years, the Ottoman Empire. After WW2, as a socialist repulbic, the country was ruled by Enver Hoxha with an iron fist until his death in 1985, after which there was a gradual process of increasing links with and travel to other countries, along with democratic elections. Albania has a varied climate and rich diversity of scenery, flora and fauna for its size, including bears, wolves and lynx, and its symbol is the golden eagle.
Prominent Albanians include Gjergj Kastrioti, Nobel Prize winner Mother Teresa- Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu-, the writer Ismail Kadare, the painter Ibrahim Kodra, the composer Simon Gjoni, the Olympic athlete Klodiana Shala, and Pope Clement XI. Other well known individuals include the prime minister of the Ottoman Empire Ferhat Pasha and Mehemet Ali the viceroy of Egypt.
suggestions please, and any additions to mubi database or mention of films I’ve overlooked would be great!
XHEVAHIR SPAHIU: udhëtimet e mia
Do ta shaloj renë
të shkoj mbi malet e mia,
po deshën shi, t’u derdh pika lotësh.
Do ta shaloj kalin
të ndiej shijen e erës
kur dashuria më pret.
Do ta shaloj lumin
të më çojë në det,
të mbaj mbi vete anijet.
Do ta shaloj pemën
mos pikëllohet pa zogjtë,
rrënjët t’i ngulen më thellë në tokë.
Do ta shaloj ëdrrën
pa yzengji dhe pa fre,
të më çojë tek e nesërmja.
Do ta shaloj këngën,
zot i saj, rob i saj, – t’i këndoj
lëvizjes dhe nga pika e vdekur
I can’’t let today pass without mention of the death (October 4th 2010) of Norman Wisdom the British film comedian who was a hero in Albania
Ditën e mirë! Have a good day.