Following WWII, the government of Albania centered itself on isolationist politics, which separated the country from not only political, but also cultural influences of others. This caused Albanian culture, including film, to follow a strict set of ideologies and aesthetics. However, despite media restrictions and enforced censorship, Albanian filmmakers created and shared stories that helped quench a thirst to explore in a time when Albanians themselves were unable to do so.
While the dictatorial regime prevented foreign influences to reach Albanian citizens, domestic filmmakers needed to navigate through and develop production and post-production methods on their own. Although this was a challenging task, it allowed filmmakers in Albania to create a distinct approach to creating films.
The Albanian National Film Archive (AQSHF) currently houses a large collection of film-related materials that chronicle the development of the Albanian film industry from the 1940’s to the 2000’s. This collection consists of thousands of items, including costume and set-design sketches, animation slides, productions stills, and more-- all depicting the evolution of Albanian cinema during a period of cultural repression.
Albanian cinema is a generally unknown cultural treasure. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, Albanian cinema history was not often documented or written about in works beyond Albania, primarily due to the lack of materials and the country’s cultural/political isolation. While some articles and book chapters have discussed the topic, most of them fail to cover the history preceding the 1990’s. Albania’s cinematic collaborations with artists from foreign countries including Russia (1950’s-60’s), China (1960’s-70’s), and Italy (1980’s-90’s) provide a rich history of international partnerships in the arts. The AQSHF collection allows for this history to be shared.
To this day, there is so much that has yet to be discovered on Albanian cinematic history. The AQSHF collection contributes to filling in this gap by showcasing how Albanian artists, such as actors, musicians, screenwriters, directors, and designers, were constantly engaged with the arts even beyond Albanian borders. Examining this history through digitized materials will help users better understand Albania’s historic censorship policies and how they influenced Albanian cinema