Tuesday, 26 June 2007

ALBANIAN FILM AND DOCUMENTARY


By Fatmir Terziu
How did film and documentary help create ‘dictatorship” in the years after the Second World War in Albania
Film, documentary and photography have been significant element of propaganda techniques, which help to keep alive ‘dictatorship’ in the years after the Second World War in Albania. It can be said that dictatorship can be found surviving in both new and old forms, in exhibitions, and above all in the cinema, documentary and photography. From the shooting of the first film in Albania ideology and censorship have been in strong relationship with each other.

There are many facts that state that the first film was not released for public viewing. Even though the film about the national Albanian hero George Kastrioti which was realised as a collaboration with soviet filmmakers didn't escape from this ideology, it was the first and only Albanian film to win an award in the Canne. A photo that escaped from the communist ideology and censorship now reveals a truth long forgotten. It helps to create a new documentary to highlight the reality. For example, a simple photo kept secret from the communist government, by the Bicaku family from Librazhd, a small town in Albania, now after this family received an award in USA, shows that during the time of the Holocaust, Albanians played an important role by protecting innocent Jewish people. This photo caused a new documentary to be made.

So, in the years after, among all visual arts, the documentary, the photography and especially the cinema have changed the way of how the relationship between state and culture can be. Albanian filmmakers tried to escape from the old traditions and helped to reshape the history of filmmaking in the country. Within a few years from the invention of documentary, the photography and the cinema, "even in the poor and little Albania the seventh art was joyfully and with no hesitation embraced" (Leskaj, 2006).

"But stranger things have happened. Not a lot of people know this, but for a good decade from the late 1960s, Albanian films were among the most watched in the world. The reason was simple. That nice Mr Mao deemed them the only foreign fare ideologically safe enough to be shown to hundreds of millions of Chinese in the wake of the Cultural Revolution. Which is why, from time to time, you will come across Chinese directors paying handsome tribute to some "European classic" no one outside Tirana has heard of" (Fiachra Gibbons, Friday March 16, 2007 The Guardian)

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