For its 20th edition, DokuFest presents a collaboration with the Albanian National Film Archive for a program titled IMAGES FROM THE SIEGE – A NEWSREEL HISTORY OF COMMUNIST ALBANIA.
A four-hour selection, featuring thirteen newsreels, short and medium length docs, this program chronicles four and half decades of Albanian political and cultural life with films produced by its Kinostudio.
Beginning with the Russian-produced doc, SHQIPËRIA (Albania) (1945) directed by the famed documentarian Roman Karmen, the series charts Albania’s early alliance with the Soviet Union then its unexpected switch to close ties with Maoist China.
Along this vivid, non-fiction journey, we see a mosaic of chilling totalitarian show trials, military parades and the cult of Enver Hoxha in full flourish at his 1985 state funeral. The final portion of the program concludes with the massive popular demonstrations in the 1990’s that signaled the end of Albania’s one-party system.
IMAGES FROM THE SIEGE – A NEWSREEL HISTORY OF COMMUNIST ALBANIA is curated by Iris Elezi, a filmmaker and currently the director of the Albanian National Film Archive and the Albanian-American filmmaker Thomas Logoreci.
The first program, consisting of following films: SHQIPËRIA (1945), URIME SHOKË STUDENTË! (1955), KINOREPORTAZH NR. 1 (1959), PING PONG (1971), BEKIM FEHMIU NË SHQIPËRI (1972), had its screening on Monday at Lumbardhi Indoor.
Logoreci explained that creating this program was not a challenge, as they are doing the Albanian Cinema Project, the initiative to help save the archive.
“We have been watching these films, obsessively. We watch many documentaries, fiction films, but we like to watch documentaries a lot, because even though people say it’s just propaganda, even the Khrushchev hat handing to Enver Hoxha, every one of them has something interesting that you learn so much about the way government used sound and text to create a national narrative. And you see the Albanian history year by year. It’s a visual vocabulary that Albania had each year that was specific, which I find very fascinating”, says Albanian-American filmmaker.
According to him these films have something emotional not just for Albanians.
“In the world now there are more increasing dictatorships than democracies, and we are always being threatened to have another police state like Albania, and Albania had such a specific method of repression. The stories, the tragedies, of individual people, are endlessly interesting to me, as half-Albanian, I grew up very obsessed and interested in these stories… There is something tremendously dramatic about what people went through during that time, how people survived, and how we continue on, which is the human story really. We are learning it now on another level with the virus we are experiencing difficulty we have not experienced before. I think these films feel like something very emotional for us, not just as Albanians but as people in general” adds Logoreci.
The screening of the films within this program will continue on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 14h at Lumbardhi Indoor.
PROGRAM 1 – 09.08.2021 – Lumbardhi Indoor from 14:00
- SHQIPËRIA (1945), dir. Roman Karmen
- URIME SHOKË STUDENTË! (1955), dir. Viktor Stratoberdha
- KINOREPORTAZH NR. 1 (1959), dir. Endri Keko
- PING PONG (1971), dir. Agim Fortuzi, Ilia Terpini
- BEKIM FEHMIU NË SHQIPËRI (1972), dir. Vitori Celi
PROGRAM 2 - 10.08.2021 – Lumbardhi Indoor from 14:00
- NË FESTIVALIN E 11 TË KËNGËS (1973), dir. Donika Muci
- PËRJETSI (1974), dir. Dhimiter Anagnosti
- GJYQI KUNDËR TË DEKLASUARVE NGA POSHNJA BERAT 6-7 JANAR 1978 (1978), dir. Abaz Hoxha
- NË UDHËT E VITET 2010 (1981), dir. Esat Musliu
PROGRAM 3 - 11.08.2021 – Lumbardhi Indoor from 14:00
- DHIMBJE E THELLË, BETIM I MADH (1985), dir. Halil Kamberi, Kujtim Gjonaj, Viktor Gjika
PROGRAM 4 – 12.08.2021
- ALBAFILM (1991), dir. Petrit Beci
- SHEMBJA E IDHUJVE (1993), Kujtim Gjonaj
- TINGUJ TË ZJARRTË (1991), dir. Ardian Murraj
PHOTO EXHIBITION: BEKIM FEHMIU’S VISIT IN ALBANIA
DokuFest in collaboration with the Albanian National Film Archive in its 20th edition will also present a photo exhibition of never-before-seen still black and white images taken during a 1972 visit to Albania by the acclaimed Kosovar actor Bekim Fehmiu (1936-2010).
The recently discovered photos capture Fehmiu’s rare trip along with Albanian personalities such as the writer Ismail Kadare and film director Dhimitër Anagnosti.
Albanian-American filmmaker Thomas Logoreci explains the joy while preparing this exhibition.
“We were in the archives, doing a project with UCLA, to preserve every still photograph taken in the communist time, production but also documentary photos. Some events, like the Bekim’s visit were captured on still film, and we found these in an unmarked envelope, in the Bekim folder negatives but it was an envelope of photos taken that afterwards in 1973 there were some figures that went through some trouble and it was like we cannot talk about Bekim’s visit anymore. Yugoslavia-Albania had problems, in 1974 the repression in Albania became much tighter so the photos were safely put away, but we found them last summer. When I held them up to the light I knew instantly what these photos were. Iris will tell you I said ‘Oh my God it’s the Bekim Fehmiu visit’. To see Ismail Kadare, to see Dritwro Agolli, to see Xhanfize Keko, in these still images was an amazing discovery and brought us much joy in archive that day, to print them for the first time, to expose these negatives that have never been exposed before”, says Logoreci.
Born in Sarajevo, Fehmiu grew up in Prizren which makes the premiere presentation of these photos such a special event. In 1967, Fehmiu attained international fame after appearing in the Cannes-winning Yugoslav fiction feature, I EVEN MET HAPPY GYPSIES.
The opening ceremony of this exhibition is on Tuesday at 19:30 at Shani Efendi.