Edition 20: 6-14 August, 2021

Balkan Dox

IMAGES FROM THE SIEGE - A NEWSREEL HISTORY OF COMMUNIST ALBANIA - II

Albania
— 60 min / Black and white

1

Synopsis

NË FESTIVALIN E 11 TË KËNGËS (In the 11th Festival of Song) (1971) (11 min)
Dir. Donika Muci
No one knows why for certain but from 1968 to 1973, communist Albania enjoyed a brief liberalization in the arts. Banned books and Beatles records changed hands. Albania’s Nobel-nominated novelist Ismail Kadare wrote two of his most famed masterpieces, Kështjella (The Castle) (1970) and Kronikë në gur (Chronicle in Stone) (1971), during this period. The rock and roll and jazz arrangements featured in this concert doc were the pretext that brought about the end to the artistic thaw. Several performers seen in the festival were sent to prison or internal exile. The portly, smiling music conductor, Gasper Çurçia, was later accused of forging bus tickets and executed.

PËRJETSI (Eternity) (1974) (7 min)
Dir. Dhimitër Anagnosti
Dhimitër Anagnosti (b. 1936) is considered by many Albanian cineastes as the country’s most talented filmmaker, a sold craftsman who made his communist-era reputation as a fiction writer and director. This restored documentary was shelved in the wake of the crackdown on artists, surprising since it’s a flattering, brightly-colored ode to the dictatorship, commissioned on the thirtieth anniversary of the communist takeover.

GJYQI KUNDËR TË DEKLASUARËVE NGA POSHNJA BERAT 6-7 JANAR 1978 (Trial Against the Declassed from Poshnja, Berat January 6-7, 1978 (1978) (17 min)
Dir. Abaz Hoxha
Perhaps the most chilling testament to the ruthlessness of Albania’s communist regime, this documentary presents a public trial in a packed cinema: four young men accused of industrial sabotage and listening to foreign music. In the finale, replicating the Stalinist show trials of the 1950s, the audience applauds the death sentences for two defendants, and long prison terms for the other two who absurdly also lose their voting rights. The ice cold Poshnja is a rarely-screened, forbidden film (it is not even listed on the Albanian archive website), the sole directing effort of Albania’s leading film scholar, Abaz Hoxha.

NË UDHËT E VITIT 2010 (On the Road to the Year 2010) (1980) (7 min)
Dir. Esat Musliu
By 1980, Albania had broken with all the world’s superpowers. The isolation pushed the country into a corner. Industrial production slowed to a virtual standstill. Lines grew for bread, meat and milk. To inspire the typical socialist worker, this Kinostudio production highlighted the achievements of a model laborer who’s met his work goals thirty years into the future. Director Musliu ironically mirrors much of the ridiculous rhetoric that filled most of the era’s state-controlled media.

Official Trailer