Albania Theater and Cinema


Archaeological excavations have brought to light the ruins of some theaters (one of which, in Bylis, with 7000 seats) active in the classical era. But the first representation of a play in Albanian (Matrimonio a Lunxhëria by K. Hoshi) took place in Gjirokastra only in 1874 and the major Albanian playwrights of the early twentieth century carried out their activity in Calabria (Anton Santori), Turkey (Sami Frashëri), Egypt (Çajupi) and Romania (Grameno). The situation of the theater did not improve even after the conquest of independence and it was necessary to wait for the advent of the People’s Republic for permanent professional theaters financed by the state to be established. The most important is the Theater of the People of Tirana; others arise in major cities making tours frequent in the countryside. They are flanked by variety theaters, numerous puppet theaters and many amateur companies linked to factories, schools and agricultural cooperatives. The repertoires follow the canons of socialist realism and complement works by national authors (such as Kolë Jakova (b. 1916), also director of the Teatro del Popolo) to texts of the European classical theater. The years of chaos following the fall of the regime did not help cultural institutions such as theaters, which often had to face enormous financial and organizational difficulties to maintain constant programming. However, the widespread diffusion of the theatrical culture desired by the regime has borne fruit, and the new Albanian writers have all shown a notable predilection for this means of expression: they are also playwrights, in fact, the writers Theodor Keko and especially Stefan Çapalicu, the most famous and represented (Three love songs, 2004) by the new Albanian playwrights in Northern Albania, a country located in Europe according to


Practically non-existent in the pre-war period, except for some short films in co-production with Italy, the cinematographic activity appeared in the 1950s with the opening in Tirana of a studio for newsreels, documentaries and dubbing, with the participation of actors, technicians and assistants in the monumental historical co-production with the USSR for the film Scanderbeg (by SJ Jutkevič, 1954), with the construction of soundstages and the construction of some films of national interest. In the following decade, under the Chinese ideological influence, the cinema of political contestation develops, while the capillary distribution network grows.Kristaq Dhamo’s Tana on agricultural collectivization, followed by others on the construction of socialism such as The First Years (1965) by the same director, The Commissioner of Light (1966) by Dhimitër Anagnosti and Viktor Gjika on literacy in the countryside, Ancient Plagues (1969) by Anagnosti on the re-education of intellectuals, as well as from the classic line of the Resistance with titles such as Tempesta (1959) by Dhamo, The debate (1961), L’eco della riva (1966) and L’ Unità guerilla (1969) by Hysen Hakani. In films, documentaries and newsreels of current affairs (kinoditar) of the seventies, a very rigid ideology prevailed: a socialist realism prior to the “thaw”, modeled on the Chinese rather than the Soviet one, even if the research was oriented towards an Albanian specificity (Metkoi, 1971, and Paths of struggle, 1974, by Piro Milkani; Verdi montagne, 1971, by Anagnosti). Still on the theme of the Resistance, the medium- length film The Last Winter by Ibrahim Mukaj and Kristaq Mitro stood out for the role assigned to the female contribution, which inaugurated the first “week of Albanian cinema” in Paris in 1977. Operation Fire (1973) by Victor Gjika, Beni walks alone (1975) by Xhanfise Keko and Lo scontro (1976), again by Gjika. The Daughter of the Mountains (1974) by Anagnosti is a Chinese-style ballet film that summarizes thirty years of Albanian history. The economic and social crisis of the 1980s also affected the cinema sector, where no significant developments took place. Even in the following decade there are no big news: many of the films produced are in fact linked to the old names of Albanian cinema, whose works remain within the borders of the country and the topics covered are almost always aimed at analyzing the past. An exception is represented by Kujtim Çashku (b.1950), a prolific director, author, among others, of Balada and Kurbinit (1990) and Colonel Bunker (1996), and Fatmir Koçi (b.1959), who shot Nekrologji in 1994. Starting from the early years of the 2000s, the Albanian film industry begins to produce, albeit with great economic difficulties, some films that stand out in international festivals, such as Slogans (2001) by Gjergj Xhuvani (b.1963), presented in competition in Cannes and dedicated to a surreal and grotesque reconstruction of the years of the dictatorship of Hoxha, and Tirana year zero (2001) by Fatmir Koçi, presented in Venice, a road movie between Tirana and Paris that deals with the theme of Albanian emigration to Europe. The same director also remembers The Time of the Comet, released in 2008.

Albania Theater

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