Albanian film wins US award

Albanian film wins US award

TIRANA, March 20- The film “Streha Mes Reve” with screenplay and directed by Robert Budina has been awarded the “Global Vision Award” winner at the “Cinequest Film Fest” in San Jose USA. “Streha Mes Reve” ia the second feature of

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Reconstruction in Gjirokaster risk UNESCO expelling

Reconstruction in Gjirokaster risk UNESCO expelling

TIRANA, March 19- The “Neck of Bazaar” which is the museal complex in Gjirokaster for its historical and cultural values, is undergoing a full rehabilitation. But removing the pavement has brought some negative feedback from cultural heritage specialists who have

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An artistic video to help understand Albania

An artistic video to help understand Albania

TIRANA, March 14- During March 8 and 9 of 2019, 13 Albanian video-artists presented their works to the Austrian public at the Belvedere 21 museum in Vienna a multimedia art festival titled “Déjeuner avec Marubi,” to introduce themselves to the

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The mystery over Egypt’s Albanian father

The mystery over Egypt’s Albanian father

TIRANA, March 11- Balkan Insight (BIRN) investigative news outlet and its Albanian branch Reporter have published an article by Jack Davies on Muhammad Ali who casted the foundations of the modern Egyptian state. Ali was allegedly of Albanian heritage, but

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A talk on the transitory state of possible stories

A talk on the transitory state of possible stories

TIRANA, March 14- On behalf to the exhibition “The transitory state of possible stories” by artist Valentina Bonizzi hosted at Zeta Gallery, a talk between scholar Brunilda Pali, activist Diana Malaj, and curator Luisa Perlo, will be organized at the

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A mission to expand green areas in Albania

A mission to expand green areas in Albania

TIRANA, Mar. 4- In the north of Albania there is a recent initiative being taken titled “Create your oxygen, plant five trees” for combating deforestation and air pollution. The largest forest areas are located in these regions of Albania, however

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Cultural testimonies in a book

Cultural testimonies in a book

TIRANA, Mar. 6- “The complete history of the humankind will be written when Albanians will participate in it,” has said albanologist Maximilian Lambertz. This phrase was used by current Austrian Ambassador to Albania in the introduction of a collection of

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The national flag Eagle

The national flag Eagle

By Sonja Methoxha TIRANA, Mar. 4- Apart from all the political turmoil in our country, the parliament recently was succumber by a more delicate debate regarding the eagle of Albania’s national flag. As a culture in Albania our flag has

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First Women International Film Festival

First Women International Film Festival

TIRANA, Mar. 7- The OSCE survey conducted in Western Balkan countries represent a reality that many women face in their everyday lives. A narrow-minded mentality which damages the psychology of women and therefore their lives. To tackle this global phenomenon

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Albanian in the International Mother Tongue Day

Albanian in the International Mother Tongue Day

TIRANA, Feb. 22- UNESCO has assigned Feb. 21 as the International Mother Tongue Day, a day celebrated in all the countries worldwide. The aim of this day is the appreciation of the language as the the most important tool in

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 20- The film "Streha Mes Reve" with screenplay and directed by Robert Budina has been awarded the "Global Vision Award" winner at the "Cinequest Film Fest" in San Jose USA. "Streha Mes Reve" ia the second feature of the screenwriter and director Robert Budina who has had his world premiere at the “Tallinn Black Nights” film festival.

In the movie "Streha Mes Reve" the leading role of Besnik is performed by internationally renowned actor Arben Bajraktaraj (known for: Taken, Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows). The film tells the story of Besnik, a shepherd in a village in northern Albania who is looking after his father, a former communist. Where different religions have found a way to peacefully coexist, Besnik is a devout Muslim, his mother was a Catholic, and his brother turned to the Orthodox faith in Greece. 

Even after discovering that the old mosque of the village was a church and that the building was actually separated between the two religions in the past, the tranquility of everyday life can only be preserved with the help of Besnik. However, after his father's death, drastic changes threaten the family of Besnik and the shepherd is bound to make his way. 

The film was funded by the Albanian National Center of Cinematography and produced by producer Sabina Kodra from Era film, in co-production with Radio Televizioni Shqiptar and Cristian Nicolescu from Digital Cube from Romania.

The film “Streha Mes Reve” was filmed by director of photography Radu Jude, Marius Panduru who also filmed “Album”, triumphing at the Sarajevo Film Festival in 2014, Ştefan Tatu (Wolf) and composer Marius Leftarache. The casting is also composed of other renowned actors as Esela Pysqyli, Irena Cahani, Bruno Shllaku, Osman Ahmeti, and others. The film premiered in Albania on December 13, 2018. 

With the script and directed by Robert Budina, the main message that carries “Streha Mes Reve” is the belief in God, in oneself, and in others. In his notes, director Robert Budina writes that he did not want to make a movie about religion, especially a historic one. 

“I didn't even want to make a film about the particular religious coexistence or the traumas that the communist system in Albania did. I wanted to make a personal, intimate, subjective movie about an individual's relationship with the community, family, religion, love, God, and nature,” said Budina.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 19- The “Neck of Bazaar” which is the museal complex in Gjirokaster for its historical and cultural values, is undergoing a full rehabilitation. But removing the pavement has brought some negative feedback from cultural heritage specialists who have been demanding no damage, as this would impact on an expulsion from UNESCO.

The Minister of Culture Elva Margariti retaliated that the forgotten splendor to this bazaar with the rehabilitation of facades and roofs has been returned, as a second phase of the project is being initiated. These interventions are necessary as today we have a growing tourism development and Gjirokaster is central to the government’s investments in this sector. 

“3.5 million dollars worth of investment, over 5000 square meters of restoration, and revalued properties, returning Gjirokaster its splendor like never before together with our strategic partner AADF,” said Margariti. 

67 guest houses are built so far in the historic city and the “Neck of Bazaar” is part of the investments being made in the framework of the project “Integrated Urban and Touristic Development in Albania” in the urban centers of Saranda, Gjirokastra, Berat and Permet, financed by the World Bank at the value of 63.8 million euros. The rehabilitation of the engineering infrastructure, the water supply network, electricity, the anti-fire network, the Lan network and the restoration of pavements and sidewalks are being carried out. 

The cobblestone dismantling process has first started with its detailed documentation on the routes in which the interference is being carried out and the respective stones are stored according to the routes where it was dismantled. It is promised that no damages will happen. The cladding layers will be stored and after the completion of the infrastructure works after the completion of the infrastructure works, they will be restored. 

The good news is that pieces of cobblestone that were thought to belong to earlier than the 1970s were discovered during the works. The Archeological Service Agency has been notified regarding all this information and the materials on these findings will be reviewed at the National Council of Archeology. 

However, in the past years the interventions made by the institutions seem to be very scarce for the historic center of Gjirokaster. Cultural heritage specialists have repeatedly demanded not only emergency interventions when cultural monuments jeopardize, but also a sustained maintenance, and according to them, for years it was not at the right level. 

The director of the "Gjirokastra" Foundation Sadi Petrela has also joined the responses of specialists regarding this case. No less critical of the interventions that the Ministry of Culture has done and continues to do, Petrela among others says that the historic center is risked to be expelled by UNESCO in case this situation continues.

One aspect is that some of the restorations are very controversial. Petrela said that it is not the case to say good or bad, because it goes into detail and technical arguments, but there is no kind of strategy and direction, there are no clear rules of play. There are examples of failures or incorrect restorations that indicate that there is much to see and in terms of the effectiveness of these investments with regard to the preservation of cultural heritage.

The second aspect is how effective these investments are to bring economic and social development on the basis of conservation restoration preservation. In fact, it is not thought much about the developmental aspect, we talk a lot about the folkloric asket, our heritage, etc., and how worthwhile it is, how worthwhile, and how much more development can be discussed a bit. Everything remains within the framework of the propaganda and framework of party politics of the day and the monuments that continue to be destroyed.

“Gjirokastra definitely is risked getting out of UNESCO and there  are two dangers. Lack of investment and wrong investment,” said Petrela. 

He said that there are 500 illegal buildings in the historic center of Gjirokastra. There are 500 flats  in cultural monuments including the religious ones, and so is the number of illegal constructions. It risks Gjirokastra from mismanagement, illegal construction, lack of investment, lack of plans and projects. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 14- During March 8 and 9 of 2019, 13 Albanian video-artists presented their works to the Austrian public at the Belvedere 21 museum in Vienna a multimedia art festival titled “Déjeuner avec Marubi,” to introduce themselves to the public, and also provide a deeper understanding of Albania. Some images display people crying over the death of the dictator, others the colorful cubist shapes over wrecked facades, and another image showed a girl adding colors to a black-and-white picture of her mother. 

Some artists like Anri Sala and Adrian Paci have long emigrated from the Albanian art scene and are contributing to the contemporary European art scene. Other artists have studied abroad and worked in western art scenes collecting experiencing so they can experiment with the Albanian heritage. Such artists are Silva Agostini who lives in Berlin, Elsa Martini in Vienna, Violana Muranaj in New York and Tirana, Ermela Teli in Switzerland, Adrian Paci in Milano and Shkoder.  

It’s been a while since the Albanian art has gotten out from the provincial artistic channel, however artist Adrian Paci said that we are still a small country averted a bit from the main cultural and artistic discussion channels. Yet, we are not expelled from it.

“This festival is part of those grand attempts to create a dialogue between the Albanian and the international art scene, but these are processes which should be kept constantly alert,” said Paci.

Some material for the Albanian artist comes from Enver Hoxha’s regime, who censored the largest income of artistic composition. The dictatorship heritage is no part of the artistic imagination. A sour past transformed into art can always remain actual, as it happens with Paci’s video “Interregnum” that discusses the individual’s deforming during communism. It is also depicted in the monologue of artist Driant Zeneli who recalls his childhood during the regime while painting an autobiography through his photographs, and in the visual display of the regime victims’ stories prepared by artistic group “Memo” with written texts of writer Agron Tufa.

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In the project MEMO the previously inaudible victims finally have the chance to confess their stories. Their voices of pain are the voices of the artists that are living freedom today. A memorial over the regime that only art can elevate. According to artist Leonard Qylafi the multimedia instruments are a proper tool to face this trauma. 

“Entrance to the collective memory through a personal perspective.”

Words and visuals aren’t enough that is why absorbing the surrounding environment through, together with documentation are necessary. “Nailsong” is a powerful video which unites the power of sound with visuals, where a stirring hand draws unclear concentric circles in the presence of a warning voice.

The artistic video is a genre embraced by Albanian artists. This terrain isn’t dominated by male artists, as female artists have been experimenting with images and their reflexions for a while now. A special focus on this festival were actually works of Albanian female artists. 

“Female artists aren’t introduced yet as they deserve it, a phenomenon present worldwide. Since the first day of this festival was also March 8, the International Women’s Day, it was an almost obligation to put a gravity point to the art scene created by women,’’ explained Annemarie Türk on the choice. 

The majority of the female video artists come from the painting world. Violana Murataj discovered artistic videos after a camera came into her household for the first time. She said that everyday she would discover something new and feel closer to the medium. After she studied in New York she returned in Tirana because of the Albanian climate. 

“Even more that Albania offer you the opportunity to touch artistic themes in the social or family spectrum, there are many tangible themes for us artists and they create space for composition for each artist,” said Murataj.

Elsa Martini is another Albanian artist but who has been living in Vienna for 10 years now. She turns into art not only her homeland remembrance but also her experience from the foreign country. Albania and Vienna for her are “interference” that enrich one another. She said that she had to be assimilated with the culture in Vienna but also with rewatching her history through another perspective. She had to restructure her thoughts, emotions, and her whole life. In her work “Executing love” she elaborates on her emigration experience. A kiss between two people that seems to be never finalized, a man and woman in security uniforms, and an interrupted kiss by a glass.

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Another female artist Ermela Teli was introduced by her work “A political care,” an artistic video on the Roma families living on the suburbs of Albania’s society. Teli has been living in Switzerland for three years now. She understands art as “inner need to communicate, even outside the walls of Albania and the economic problems, I speak, feel, and live in my creative manner.” She said that her artistic mentor is life itself and what she discovers through challenges, circumstances and events. Other female video artists like Donika Cina, Alketa Ramaj,  and Silva Agostini, brought brief moments that oftentimes were private reflections which through art they were approached in a different dimension, that of human connection.

The colors are used to avoid the sadness of a “dead city”, shouted by the background voice of current Albanian prime minister Edi Rama when Mayor of Tirana, who was the first to undertake the project of painting the facades on the capital’s buildings. As the camera documents the changes in Tirana, the typical background noises of the city are heard. These scenes are seen in the introductive works of renowned artist Anri Sala, “Déjeuner avec Marubi” and “Dammi i colori.” Sala himself however, missed the festival and was only represented by his internationally acclaimed works.

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Video artist Leonard Qyfali brought another perspective to this view of changes experienced by Tirana by considering the chaotic changes. In a photo montage it is documented the scenery transformation step by step in front of the artist’s window. Images that make one also understand the urbanistic anarchy that associated Tirana. For politically involved artist Ergin Zaloshnja art is a tool to criticize the structures of power. His work “The last hope” documents a project close to Tirana’s artificial lake. 

“Déjeuner avec Marubi” was a festival full with intensive images, yet limited to only two nights. During the intervals of the video introductions the Austrian public had the chance to connoisseur the artists through discussions. When one hears the Albanian artists speak on their perseverance to continue their hard path as artists, one can also understand that this path holds strong motifs ready to be transferred into art. 

“Precisely in the far-from centers suburbs you can find projects and other interesting things happening, especially in the space of arts and culture, and the Albanian art scene has been an important part of the European art for a while,” concluded Annemarie Turk.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 11- Balkan Insight (BIRN) investigative news outlet and its Albanian branch Reporter have published an article by Jack Davies on Muhammad Ali who casted the foundations of the modern Egyptian state. Ali was allegedly of Albanian heritage, but that statement among many other are still under a question mark. 

From all the biographies of historical persons who became a somebody from being a nobody, Davies claims that only a few of them can be called as more extraordinary than Muhammad Ali’s story. Ali was an unknown Albanian who planned his path from the darkness to becoming the “father of modern Egypt,” with his successors running the country until 1952. He passed away in 1849, and on March 4 was his 250th birthday.

Ali was one of the unique cases who made it without anybody’s help, however, his story is quite mythologized. There are a few questions that Davies raises. Was March 4 his real birthday? Or did he choose this date to enforce his brand as Napoleon Bonaparte of Ottoman Empire (Bonaparte also celebrates his 250th birthday this 2019)? Was he really Albanian, or was this a pushed fact to attract Albanian soldiers under his command?

No one knows and truth is that there is no way to determine these minimal facts. Professor Khaled Fahmy writes that “he [Ali] didn’t come from a renowned family, so his parents had no reason to write down his birthdate.”

Whenever his birthdate or who his ancestors might have been, it is accepted that he was born in Kavala, 150 kilometers east to Thessaloniki. Just as with many history protagonists, his father died when Ali was young and left him under the care of the local governor. Napoleon Bonaparte was his hero. If it wasn’t for Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 then history perhaps wouldn’t have heard of Muhammad Ali. 

Egypt was an important territory for the Ottoman Empire and when the French Emperor invaded it, Fahmy writes that the Sultan panicked. His first reaction was to send an army through Syria. He also later sent a smaller fraction of 4000 Albanian soldiers to join the war through maritime, which took a new smaller contingent with it from Kavala. 

“Muhammad Ali is part of this force, and the earliest sign of him comes from entries to his connection to this Albanian contingent,” writes Fahmy. 

Halfway through the Mediterranean, the Albanian contingent leader died and the second commandant suddenly disappeared once the ship sailed. This made that Ali to take things to his hands. It is assumed that this is the moment that Ali wins his Albanian identity, or the identity that catapults him to greatness. Academic Ali Afaf Lutfi Sayyid-Marsot from University of California wrote in 1984 that he had no doubts on Ali’s Albanian origin.

“Due to the kinship character of the Albanian bodies and their loss of high commanders, these soldiers would only be led by another Albanian. This together with his qualities and charizma helped Ali towards his rapid growth,” wrote Sayyid-Marsot.

An anonymous writer for the 1841 edition of the Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine also wrote in conviction of Ali’s Albanian heritage. He describes him as an Albanian, opposing the general reportings of him as a beggar, slave, or porter. This writer admitted that priot the death of Ali’s father, he was a military officer patrolling on Kavala’s streets. 

Fahmy on the other hand believes that the Ali’s Albanian heritage are part of his mythology, together with allegations of sharing the same birth year as Bonaparte. This comes when the leadership of the Albanian forces turn to Ali, and he becomes thus connected to them. Fehmy writes that he exploited this because after the leaving of the French army and the backing out of the Ottoman forces, Albanians are the only ones left. And they were quite scary, he notes. 

“Thus, he connects after them because he thinks that there is something on the move, and he deeply connects to them, and this is where the relationship starts,” wrote Fehmy.

Fahmy said that the key to Ali’s character are the anxiety and miracle he felt when he arrived in Egypt in 1801. After Ali saw the treasure in Egypt, he couldn’t imagine returning to Kavala, thus he settled there. Knowing that the Ottoman Empire was falling, Ali didn’t link his ambition with it.

“I am very much aware that the Empire is daily moving towards its crumbling. Over its ruins, I will built a great kingdom,” wrote Ali on his memoirs.

And this is exactly what he did. His achievements were so successful that his successors would reign over Egypt until the monarchy fell in 1952. According to renowned albanologue Robert Elsie, one of these kings, King Fuad I, even traveled towards Europe in failing attempts to get support in acquiring the Albanian throne after the country had already declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. 

However, prior to his grandchildren being kings, Ali had to build a kingdom first. Fahmy explains that in order to do that he needed a modern army, yet, an army cannot be established under a vacuum. The setting up of an army requires schools, which on their behalf need publishing houses. To have fierce soldiers, the country needs a healthcare system which requires doctors, who require trainings. So a country needs a medical school which needs books that need translating, which need another sort of expertize. Thus, Fehmy explains, step by step within 40 years Egypt starts being modernized. 

Either by accident or plan, Ali managed to bring Egypt in the 19th century and changed the structure of the Ottoman Empire more than any other factor in 500 years. Political scientist Jasmin Mujanovic explained that Ali was pretty unique in the ways he used to ensure his power and success. Mujanovic wrote that Ali understood that the Ottoman Empire was not in the same state it used to be, thus he started to show himself more progressive by imposing many social and political reforms in providing a stable heritage. 

Ali is part of a “strategy book” upon which Balkan leaders act, especially one of the most important points paid attention to was when the empire fell in crisis. Mujanovic explained that Ali tried to create alternative local resources to help his citizens to survive on periods of crisis. Mujanovic points Montenegrin prime minister Milo Djukanovic and Bosnian prime minister Bakir Izetbegovic as part of this school of thought, by acting as strongmen against one another in the region’s advantage. 

“The Ottoman Empire has been declining longer than most empires exist, so there is a very long period of learning until the Austro-Hungarian Empire comes to the Balkans and there is another falling. So get this institutional reminder of how to make political judo, by pushing your opponent in the direction you want him to go,” wrote Mujanovic.

The political scientist said that even though Djukanovic certainly doesn’t Ali’s biography, but there exists a certain wide political methodology that these rules traditionally had because they were exposed to similar political conditions and this a political knowledge inherited through generations. He notes that there are more similarities than differences on how Balkan and Middle East elites have behaved comparing to contemporary ones. 

What differentiates Ali from many other contemporary leaders and Ottoman rebels was his total lack of nationalistic ideology. He chose neither his origin Albania or birthplace Greece as the place to build his kingdom. In 1827 he interfered to the Greek independence war against Ottomans, for which Ali lost his fleet. Nevertheless, he would turn against the Ottoman Empire and almost assume it. 

Beginning 1830 Ali’s son Ibrahim Pasha, led Egypt’s modernized army alone only a few days away from Constantinople. French diplomat and adventurer Baron de Bois-le-Comte reached the army while its advances and went to Ibrahim’s tent for an interview. According to de Bois-le-Comte’s later published book it was stated that Ibrahim alleged that his grandfather (Ali’s father) was from Anadole and arrived from Kavala after leaving due to a family fight, whereas his grandmother was from Drama, a small town located in the north from Kavala.

Ali marching towards Constantinople was stopped by Russia, which forced it towards the negotiations table. However, for Russia these negotiations weren’t very fruitful as it left Ali a his successors with a considerable empire which would last for more than a century.

Even if Ali was an Albanian or not, a significant part of his heritage was. After the first and last monarch of Albania King Zog, left after communism emerged to power, Ali descendant King Farouk invited Zog to settle in Egypt, where he stayed for more than a decade. In a more humane level, behind the La Grotta bar in the de-facto capital of Ramallah in Palestine, the Albanian flag hangs. When bar owner Shadi Zaqtan was asked in 2017 why the flag was hanging there, he explained that his ancestors were among the 4000 soldiers that crossed the sea with Ali in early 19th century.Regardless that Zaqtan doesn’t speak a word in Albanian, he still keeps a necklace on his neck with a two-headed black eagle on a red medallion. 

Apart from the heartwarming relationships among the royal families and the unknown family trees, the real heritage of Ali is modern Egypt. Without his unique attempts to survive and flourish in the midst of the Ottoman Empire’s wrecking, the modern national state of Egypt as we know it might have never existed.

“His survival until the end is an evidence to his political genius,” noted Mujanovic.

 
                    [post_title] => The mystery over Egypt’s Albanian father
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-16 11:35:29
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-16 10:35:29
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 14- On behalf to the exhibition “The transitory state of possible stories” by artist Valentina Bonizzi hosted at Zeta Gallery, a talk between scholar Brunilda Pali, activist Diana Malaj, and curator Luisa Perlo, will be organized at the gallery on March 16 at 6 p.m.. The three guests have written on Bonizzi’s work from their personal curatorial, narrative, and collaborative perspectives. Thus, both the visual works and writings will be unraveled through a performative conversation.

The Transitory State of Possible Stories a solo show by artist Valentina Bonizzi, who lives and works between Albania and Milano, and curated by Luisa Perlo. The questions of what exists inside the law and what is the ending story are reflected in the selection of her works, realized and produced in Albania between 2017 and 2019. The works have been produced in a series of actions with a participatory element made by the artist through two “counter-architectures” :the Prime Minister’s Office Building, built during the Fascist occupation between 1939 and 1941, and the city of Kamza, considered the periphery of the city Capital, built by migration coming particularly from the north of the country after the end of the Communist Regime (1991).

In the exhibition, the two narrations, the central and the peripheral, become complementary: the system of power in which we live is included in the written word and its oral transmission, the permanent and the temporary, what appears concrete and the series of fluid stories inhabiting individuals and communities. The space between these meanings is the place where the artistic work places its poetic potential, or the possible one, which is about our relation with the law and its narration.

Brunilda Pali is a postdoctoral researcher at the Leuven Institute of Criminology. Brunilda has studied Psychology at the University of Bosphorus, Gender Studies in the Central European University, Cultural Studies in Bilgi University, and Criminology in KU Leuven. Her areas of interest are feminism, critical social theory, social and restorative justice, and arts and literature. Brunilda writes on restorative justice in Restorotopias, a blog about  another place that engages with restorative praxis. It finds anchorage in heterotopia, a concept used by Michel Foucault to describe certain cultural, institutional and discursive spaces that are somehow ‘other’: disturbing, intense, incompatible, contradictory or transforming. The website is an initiative that takes place within the postdoctoral project Restorative utopias in dystopian times: The shaping of restorative justice in the European penal systems and policies, granted to the author, Brunilda Pali, by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

Pali also writes on her other interests in the collective blog Security Praxis, which provides commentary and analysis, as well as ongoing discussion of current events and cultural artifacts related to security politics, policies and routines. 

Diana Malaj is one of the three funders of the activist group ATA (Kamza) which priority is the fights for the use of cultural spaces in their city, the only places where they have a possibility to gather. Diana is a law graduate and an activist focusing on the right of the accessibility to culture in the periphery, with a specific focus on the role of women in art and literature. She is interested in what she calls “the terrain of action and reflection” which defines the human being as a subject of law and right and her/his resistance as a creative act. Through activism with the ATA group, she has been able to explore various disciplines such as anthropology, journalism, art, literature and law, all of which are ways of re-conceiving the dimension of social movements and activism.

Luisa Perlo is a co-founder of a.titolo, a non-profit organization created in 2001 by the homonymous collective of curators, critics and art historians, founded in Turin in 1997 together with Giorgina Bertolino, Francesca Comisso, Nicoletta Leonardi and Lisa Parola. a.titolo was the first curatorial collective established in Italy and one of the first organizations in the country to work with artistic projects in the public realm according to collaborative, participatory and process based methodologies. a.titolo investigates and promotes the relationship between art, urban and social environment by curating public art and context-specific projects, exhibitions, workshops, residencies, video, performances, experimental and multidisciplinary programs for learning and cultural production.
                    [post_title] => A talk on the transitory state of possible stories
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-12 13:24:24
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Mar. 4- In the north of Albania there is a recent initiative being taken titled “Create your oxygen, plant five trees” for combating deforestation and air pollution. The largest forest areas are located in these regions of Albania, however after 1991 the woods have received multiple damages to this national treasure due to mismanagement, illegal cutting, and massive fires. Five thousand trees were planted recently mainly in the areas of Puke and Malesi e Madhe, in initiative taken by schools, local public institutions and the community.

“Greenery is an absolute necessity, and now everyone knows that a healthy life comes from a healthy environment. In these two days we hope to be able to plant the goal of five thousand trees, starting from Fushe Arrez, Puka, Shkodra and Malesia e Madhe,” said Cesk Midhja from the prefecture of Shkoder.

The regional authorities urged people for this initiative to be undertaken. One thousand and five hundred trees were built only in the area of Malesi e Madhe. Midhja said that people should become more accountable to protecting trees and this initiative may very well serve as an awareness campaign for the citizens. 

One thousand trees are currently being planted around the natural reservoir surrounding the lake of Shkodra. This information is stated by Agim Dardha who serves as director of the National Agency for Protected Areas for the region of Shkodra. He said that the aim of this initiative and its organizers isn’t only the preservation of these ares, but also their management and utilization for guaranteeing a stable tourism in  the region of Shkoder. 

“Fortunately our region has many option for tourism, starting with the sea, lake, river, and the mountainous areas. With the melting of the snow which will allow the opening of the roads, we will be sending 20 thousand other saplings to plant along, so we can increase the greenness in that area” said Dardha.

The forest damages caused in the mountainous areas of Malesi e Madhe for more than 20 years, has affected both the life of the region inhabitants and their economies. Thus, its mayor Tonin Marinaj has urged in all the residents to be involved in the initiative “create your oxygen, plant five trees.” 

He said that Malesi e Madhe has a large woodland space, but over the years it has been damaged, regardless of the pricey fines imposed on individuals who have committed illegal woodcutting. Thus, the four big municipalities of the region of Shkoder have united in this fight to save the north’s forest, and as a result its environment. 

In the territory of Malesi e Madhe are included the Albanian Alps with Kelmend, Vollga or Razem, which are highly touristic attractions for their scenery. These areas have attracted more tourists in the recent years due to improved infrastructure. This has positively affected the economy of the area and its residents, but the deforestation could potentially lead to decreased visitors.

“I urge all the residents and villagers to plant trees, starting from the garden of their houses, the streets of their neighbourhoods in the city or village they inhabit,” said Marinaj.

According to data Albania is supposed to have 1,5 million hectares of forests within its borders. Due to deforestation and damages from the past 20 years, only 400 thousand hectares of forests are left. Many of these lands are desolated, barren and to some others the ecosystems are highly harmed. 

Due the lack of state control in the vandalism to our ecosystems has affected in the river and lake draughts, extinct animals and plants, and high levels of smog and carbon dioxide. Tirana especially was the fourth most polluted city in Europe for 2018, with 79.14 pollution index. That number became higher in 2019, at 82.83 pollution index, ranking Tirana the 38th most polluted city in the world. This is especially strange as Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj has been going around the city planting trees, the gas prices have increased, and the government passed a law imposing higher taxes on cars older than 10 years (produced earlier than 2009), which emit high carbon dioxide.

 
                    [post_title] => A mission to expand green areas in Albania
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-11 13:17:35
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Mar. 6- “The complete history of the humankind will be written when Albanians will participate in it,” has said albanologist Maximilian Lambertz. This phrase was used by current Austrian Ambassador to Albania in the introduction of a collection of papers titled “Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and Albania in 1916-1918.” The book was introduced during a scientific conference held in the framework of the Austrian-Albanian year 2018. 

This book comes after an intensive work among of the Austrian Embassy in our country, the Foreign Ministry of Austria, the Albanian Ministry of Culture, and the National History Museum in Tirana. Maximilian Lambertz is one of the most renowned Austrian albanologues, who was the only scholar in the Albanian Literary Commision in Shkodra during 1916-1918, which on its behalf was the first meeting that led to a unified Albanian language. 

“This collection of research papers can be described as a contribution to writing humankind’s history, because in it have contributed history professors, military professors, archeologists, museologists, linguists, political scientists, and albanologues both from Albania and Austria. These papers comprise a special interest for the reader, because they don’t only display the historical development of events, but go beyond that by contextualizing the of administrative, educative, scientific, and socio-politic progress in the subsequent set-up of the Albanian state,” said Sattler in the conference.

Ambassador Sattler mentioned some examples written in the papers. For instance the building of the first railroad line in Albania that went from Shkoder to Berat, the establishment of more than 231 Albanian schools, the establishment of the Albanian Literary Commission, the first interinclusive Albanian census, etc.. He recall that during the Austro-Hungarian military administration in Albania, the institution, the military, the infrastructure, and the language itself experienced a modernization burst. 

However, this was a period of war and invasion which apart from the many positive effects Albanian received, there were many negative aspects too, which are more than rational under such circumstances. The scholarly book also mentions all these facts and angles to allow a more comprehensive historical perspective on the period. 

Authors to have contributed in the book are Paskal Milo, Tamara Scheer, Marenglen Kasmi, Valentina Duka, Kurt Gostentschnigg, Proletar Hasani, Beqir Meta, Ledia Dushku, Ilir Kalemaj, Enriketa Pandelejmoni (Papa), Erwin A. Schmidl, Gentiana Kera, Anila Omari, Aljula Jubani, Bendis Kraja, Izer Maksuti, Rovena Vata, Luan Perzhita, Dorian Koçi and Skender Bushi.

Historian and director of the National History Museum Dorian Koci observes that the report in the collection speaks of a short historical time-frame filled with many complicated processes of political, socio-economic and cultural characters. As a result it creates an empathy in the public opinion too, apart from the lines of scholars. Koci mentioned that 1916-1918 corresponds to an independent Albania under the suffocating atmosphere created by War World I (1914-8), especially in a small, newborn country like Albania. 

“As history tells us, the Albanian territory would turn into a world war zone at the beginning of 1916, with the scope of the center bloc forces where Austro-Hungary and Bulgaria were included, and their confrontation with the Antanta bloc,” said Koci.

He added that this was a period characterised by high nationalistic sentiments by the neighboring countries, which took the shape of an armed war that led to a territory annexation in damage of the Albanian state. Regardless of the context of war riots, inner conflicts, and efforts to preserve the borders through diplomatic or war means, the relations between the two countries displayed attempts to revive the culture and science in the life of the citizens. In this framework the diversity of the relations between Albania and Austro-Hungary in 1916-1918 are much wider than what the conference time-restrain allowed to express. 

Dr. Koci stressed that it is precisely the nature and intensity of these reports regarding the impacts of politics, diplomacy, cultural, educational, scientific, archeological, museological, and linguistic developments, united the scholars to share their research in the fields of study.
                    [post_title] => Cultural testimonies in a book
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                    [post_date] => 2019-03-10 14:03:28
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                    [post_content] => By Sonja Methoxha

TIRANA, Mar. 4- Apart from all the political turmoil in our country, the parliament recently was succumber by a more delicate debate regarding the eagle of Albania’s national flag. As a culture in Albania our flag has a more than a patriotic meaning or symbol for our people. It also deeply reflects our history of overcoming centuries-old hardships and invasions.

Even though the two headed eagle isn’t the only state symbol for Albania, but more countries around the Balkans and even Russia have adopted it. It is claimed that the first to have used it were the Roman Empire. It was then adopted by the Byzantines, under which our country have been occupied during the 14th century. The symbol then however, was a two-headed eagle with a star between their neck-parting on top of a golden field.

During the time of Skanderbeg, he adopted the same figure but contrasting with the lack of the star and on top of a red field instead. However, the double headed eagle was then a symbol of power. Even though Albania had officially parted from the Byzantine Empire following its fall, the eagle was widely used regarding its symbol of power. These emblem was adopted in 1451 and started being widely used afterwards by great Albanian figures. 

The flag was also adopted during the National Awakening which led to the Independence of 1912. Ismail Qemali urged the two-headed flag eagle on a red field to be used as the national flag for our newly established state. It was the same symbol used by Skanderbeg, who is proclaimed our national hero. Some legends even claim that the flag raised in Vlore after the declaration of Independence by Ismail Qemali and 42 delegates, is Skanderbeg’s flag. But those are only legends. 

There is a very lovely old legend regarding how Albanians got their name Shqipëri and how our country remained to be known as the land of eagles. The story follows a young boy who went out for hunting and saw a majestic eagle landing on top of a rock, which had a snake in its beak. On top of that rock the eagle also had its nest. It left the snake there and then it flew away. The boy went to see the nest and saw a tiny eagle playing with the snake. The snake though wasn’t dead and attempted to eat the tiny eagle.

The boy took out his boy and immediately killed the snake. He then took the small eagle home with him. But then the majestic eagle went to his home, asked him why he took its child. “The child is mine because I saved it from the snake you did not kill,” said the boy.

“Return to me my child, and as a reward I will give you the acuity of mine eyes and the strength of my wings. You shall become invincible, and you shall be called mine name!” replied the eagle. 

The boy returned the baby eagle to its mother, but when they both grew up, the baby eagle would always fly above him, who was now a man. The young man killed many wild beast with his bow and slew many enemies of his country. His eagle friend always followed him.

For his bravery the young man was made king and named “Shqiptar” which means “son of eagle” (eagle in Albanian is shqiponjë), and the kingdom was called “Shqipëri” or the Land of Eagled. The two heads of the eagle in our national flag then represent the north and south, which were separated in dialect and religion, but united in nationality.

According to the law our national flag’s eagle has nine feathers in its wings and seven in its tail. However the flags that have been circulating in the inner market lately are Chinese products of a distorted eagle, which doesn’t even look like a normal bird. And in fact many more souvenir products being sold to tourists are Chinese products. But before getting any nationalistic feelings, this is a pragmatic solutions used for many other products, and for many souvenirs even in developed countries.

The issue however remains the distorted image of the eagle that these products held. A many people didn’t even notice the difference, and before they could even notice it, the products and the tiny flags succumbed the Albanian market and stores. Suddenly the whole square was filled with such wrong representations of the flag, that a scandalous rumour had it that even the president of Albania had one of these fake flags hanging on his residency. 

A series of debates, talks and speculations started to overcrowd the attention of many people. Interpretations about the feathers, tail, claws, tongue. As Ben Andoni writes “the colors became murderous, Byzantium was mixed with the Nation, Albania with Arberia, politicians were scolded, patriotism was shown… Cacophony won.”

He mentions an episode of former Socialist Movement for Integration deputy Luan Rama who asked for accountability in the parliament regarding such defects on our national emblem. He had previously accused the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of using the white eagle it has adopted in its institution, which is actually a Slavian symbol. Yet, no one seemed to be doing anything about the misrepresentation of our national flag in our streets and creating false memory.

As aforementioned the emblem of the two-headed eagle is used by many other countries, as it symbolizes freedom and power. But the shape of Albania’s eagle doesn’t converge with that of those of the Slavs, Germans, Russians or Austrians. “The Eagle is a symbol which natural habitat has the flag. It has been specified by [Marin] Barleti for the eagle in Skanderbeg’s flag. This flag has also cycled during the National Awakening. They redesigned it, reformulated it according to Barleti’s dictum and made an excellent eagle. Since that of societies Vatra, or Drita, the eagles are beautiful, black, with their opened and spreaded wings, which seem dynamic and unique,” has written historian Pellumb Xhufi.

Thus it is very well stated that the colors at least cannot be changed, as in the situation of the Ministry. However, there is a living heraldist, Mr. Gjin Varfi, who is also renowned for a book on Albanian heraldry he published some time ago. For some time now his opinions have been totally disregarded, just as our state’s institutions have been totally disregarding our national symbols too. 

But beyond Mr. Varfi and his colleagues, or our government leaders, I raise the question, how can people who regard our national flag and especially the eagle so high, let its distorted figure in the fake flags go totally unnoticed? 

 
                    [post_title] => The national flag Eagle
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Mar. 7- The OSCE survey conducted in Western Balkan countries represent a reality that many women face in their everyday lives. A narrow-minded mentality which damages the psychology of women and therefore their lives. To tackle this global phenomenon there have been many movements and initiatives undertaken young women to provide support and help for victims of misogynistic, physical and/or sexual violence.

The #MeToo movement that started in the US after sexual violence testimonies against Harvey Weinstein, but that took a global scale to combat sexual harassment and violence is one example. But women are marching worldwide to speak-up against such cases and for their rights. In Albania at least three protests for women’s rights have been organized since summer 2018, and another one will be taking place on March 8th, the International Women’s Day. 

UN Women Albania is also organizing the first International Women Film Festival in the framework of women’s day. Six films will be screened at Kinema Millenium in Tirana from March 8th through 11th, with free entrance for viewers. 

“One in two women in Albania experience at least one form of violence in their lifetime, physical, psychological or sexual. This pandemic devastates lives, causes untold pain and suffering. The UN Women country office in Albania, in partnership with the Albanian National Center of Cinematography, is organizing the first ‘Women International Film Festival’, focusing this year on the theme of gender-based violence. The event will start on the 8th of March to mark International Women’s Day. A variety of documentaries, long and short movies by various international and national cinematographers, will be shown free of charge for the audience. This festival will give the opportunity to the public to see and reflect on the deeply rooted inequality in the roles, rights and opportunities of men and women, attitudes and social norms that normalize such violence, and the way they are portrayed in various countries.” writes UN Women Albania in its brochure.

The schedule is as follows:
  • March 8th, 6 p.m., Die Fremde (Germany): The movie examines one woman’s struggle for personal freedom. It is a riveting and heartbreaking story of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, who must not only free herself from that marriage, but also the cultural prejudices and judgments that would keep her there.
  • March 9th, 5 p.m., Ivan (Slovenia): After a young woman gives birth to Ivan, a chain of unexpected and nerve wrecking events begins. She finds herself in an impossible situation when she has to choose between her lover and her child. A personal drama placed in Slovenia but could have taken place anywhere.
  • March 9th, 7 p.m., Three Windows and a Hanging (Kosovo): In a traditional village in Kosovo, the female school teacher admits in an interview that she and three other women from the village were raped during the war. When the men of the village find out, they start a hate campaign against her. A reflection of rituals showing gender inequality, lack of freedom of expression and patriarchal mentality.
  • March 9th, 8:40 p.m., Ajo (Her, from Kosovo): To escape an early marriage and to protect the mother by her aggressive father, Zana has to make a courageous decision. The film is about domestic violence, gender roles and male-controlled traditions.
  • March 10th, 7 p.m., Jaha’s Promise (Ireland): The story of a young woman’s battle to eradicate the practices that almost destroyed her life: child marriage and female genital mutilation. The life and activism of Jaha Dukureh who at 15 was married to a middle-aged man she had never met before. Over 200 million women in the world live with the devastating consequences of female genital mutilation, which is still being practiced in 30 countries.
  • March 11th, 2:30 p.m., Netizens (USA): NETIZENS expose the proliferation of cyber harassment faced by women, from the web to the most intimate corners of their lives. As the internet becomes the next frontier of civil rights, this feature documentary follows three women, targets of harassment, along with legal experts and others, as they confront digital abuse and strive for equality and justice online.
[post_title] => First Women International Film Festival [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => first-women-international-film-festival [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-09 23:15:59 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-09 22:15:59 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=140844 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 140776 [post_author] => 338 [post_date] => 2019-03-04 13:22:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-04 12:22:38 [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 22- UNESCO has assigned Feb. 21 as the International Mother Tongue Day, a day celebrated in all the countries worldwide. The aim of this day is the appreciation of the language as the the most important tool in preserving the cultural heritage of each people, and the need to cultivate the mother tongues of various world ethnicities, which are part of the cultural treasure of civilization. Considering the Albanian language on this day, as the mother tongue of Albanians wherever they might be living, we can gladly point out that its status for the past 100 years has been increasing. After being a forbidden language during the Ottoman Invasion it became the official language of Albania after the Declaration of Independence in Nov. 28, 1912. However, it still remained forbidden in some areas of the nation which became part of Greece and Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian Kingdom by violence. This condition was bettered after the second war world when Albanians of Kosovo, Macedonia, and Montenegro won the right to education in their mother tongue. They opened Albanian speaking schools in all levels, up to the University of Pristina and the Albanian language department of the Skopje University. The 1974 Yugoslav constitution recognized Albanian as the official regional language in Kosovo, and as the parallel official language in Macedonia. After Kosovo was declared independent in 2008, Albanian became its only official language. In Macedonia, the language was a regional language from the ‘80s, until 2018 when the country’s parliament approved Albanian as another official language within its borders. Beyond these borders, in Montenegro Albanian is a recognized official regional language for the minorities, supported by the government. In Greece however, for the Albanian minorities the language remains unsupported by the government, yet, the children of immigrants can still learn it by their parents. In Italy with the Arberesh people the situation remains the same as in Greece. And in Turkey, which also has a large number of Albanian immigrants, the government doesn’t allow their children to learn Albanian. The Albanian language has progressed a lot in these past 100 years, especially in its refinement scale. From a language with a few literary variations and two official dialects (toske in south, and gege in the north), from 1972 its has elevated on the national literary levels, accepted from all the territories of the nation. It was the Consulate of Pristina, which in 1968 took the major step of language unification. Intellectuals united under motto “one nation-one language” declared that Albanians in Yugoslavia would accept only Albanian as their official language. The Orthography Congress ratified their decision, ending thus a period when Albanian would be written in different variations, and thus a new era with a single national language begins. This Congress has been appraised for its contribution to possess and apply the spoken and written Albanian language in all the country’s legal activities. The Consulate imposed on schools, publishing houses, editorial offices, newspapers, administration, etc., on the Albanian regions within Yugoslavia to start using the Albanian language. In Albania this obligation became obligatory in 1978 under a government decision. After the post-90s subversion of the mono-partisan political system and the passing in a pluralistic one in Albania, it is noted a lack of care for the language from the government and society. This was followed by a constestation of the literary language with trial to create new ones. In both written and spoken lecturing practices, this situation unfortunately is noticed even nowadays. This is unforgivable as the constitution obliges the protection of the language as a state duty. A comparison can be made with Macedonia, which follows punishments for those publishing houses, newsrooms or institutions (say) that disrespect the language. Such a law is missing both in Albania and Kosovo, even though a bill is sent for revisal in both parliaments. As a consequence of this lack of state care, publications, newspapers, magazines, televisions and official documentations hold inexcusable, dramatic violations of literary norms. A more grave violation is the appropriation of foreign words in dictionaries. This has caused a fading of the language, foreign words replacing many beautiful Albanian ones, which might be lost from our collective memory; and that is a pity as our language remains one of the oldest and most unique language in the globe. In the sphere of spelling there is a massive disuse of the letters “ç” and “ë” which come from the technological chatting applications, but also from a lack of respect for our alphabet, for which our ancestors died to protect. Televisions are now filled with foreign accentology, stressing on the first syllable of the words like in English, whereas the Albanian language model follows an ending accentuation. This has caused a spoiling of phraseology metrics and melody, which sounds more to an Albanian-English-Italian surrogate. The International Mother Tongue Day was the perfect case to voice to schools, press, and everyone involved in public lecturing to respect our language, which is our most unique distinguishable trait, and what unites us Albanians in one nation.   [post_title] => Albanian in the International Mother Tongue Day [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => albanian-in-the-international-mother-tongue-day [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2019-03-01 14:26:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-03-01 13:26:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=140776 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 141051 [post_author] => 338 [post_date] => 2019-03-25 12:59:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2019-03-25 11:59:02 [post_content] => TIRANA, March 20- The film "Streha Mes Reve" with screenplay and directed by Robert Budina has been awarded the "Global Vision Award" winner at the "Cinequest Film Fest" in San Jose USA. "Streha Mes Reve" ia the second feature of the screenwriter and director Robert Budina who has had his world premiere at the “Tallinn Black Nights” film festival. In the movie "Streha Mes Reve" the leading role of Besnik is performed by internationally renowned actor Arben Bajraktaraj (known for: Taken, Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows). The film tells the story of Besnik, a shepherd in a village in northern Albania who is looking after his father, a former communist. Where different religions have found a way to peacefully coexist, Besnik is a devout Muslim, his mother was a Catholic, and his brother turned to the Orthodox faith in Greece. Even after discovering that the old mosque of the village was a church and that the building was actually separated between the two religions in the past, the tranquility of everyday life can only be preserved with the help of Besnik. However, after his father's death, drastic changes threaten the family of Besnik and the shepherd is bound to make his way. The film was funded by the Albanian National Center of Cinematography and produced by producer Sabina Kodra from Era film, in co-production with Radio Televizioni Shqiptar and Cristian Nicolescu from Digital Cube from Romania. The film “Streha Mes Reve” was filmed by director of photography Radu Jude, Marius Panduru who also filmed “Album”, triumphing at the Sarajevo Film Festival in 2014, Ştefan Tatu (Wolf) and composer Marius Leftarache. The casting is also composed of other renowned actors as Esela Pysqyli, Irena Cahani, Bruno Shllaku, Osman Ahmeti, and others. The film premiered in Albania on December 13, 2018. With the script and directed by Robert Budina, the main message that carries “Streha Mes Reve” is the belief in God, in oneself, and in others. In his notes, director Robert Budina writes that he did not want to make a movie about religion, especially a historic one. “I didn't even want to make a film about the particular religious coexistence or the traumas that the communist system in Albania did. I wanted to make a personal, intimate, subjective movie about an individual's relationship with the community, family, religion, love, God, and nature,” said Budina. 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