Marubi pictures make debut U.S. showcase

Marubi pictures make debut U.S. showcase

TIRANA, March 23 – More than a hundred pictures of the famous 19th and early 20th century Marubi photo collection are being showcased in Connecticut at a gallery run by an Albanian artist in their first trip to the U.S.

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Albania prepares for Summer Day celebrations

Albania prepares for Summer Day celebrations

TIRANA, March 13 – The Summer Day atmosphere is already present in Albania’s main cities, with celebrations having kicked off in Elbasan, central Albania, the traditional host of the country’s sole official holiday with pagan roots marking the end of

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Albania marks Francophone Spring

Albania marks Francophone Spring

TIRANA, March 9 – Albania will be holding two weeks of events celebrating Francophone Spring, an annual traditional event celebrating French culture in several Albanian cities and riving culture each March. This year’s events scheduled to be held from March

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Experts petition against gov’t bypass project in UNESCO-listed Gjirokastra

Experts petition against gov’t bypass project in UNESCO-listed Gjirokastra

TIRANA, March 7 – Architects, academics and culture heritage specialists have come together to strongly oppose government plans to build a bypass in Gjirokastra, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southern Albania, warning that the concrete modern structure ruins the

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Tirana to host second watercolor biennale

Tirana to host second watercolor biennale

TIRANA, March 2 – Tirana is poised to turn into a global stage for watercolor artists again welcoming about 400 artists from 65 countries around the world after its late 2015 inaugural edition. Helidon Haliti, a 47-year veteran painter who

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First ever Albanian horror movie makes world premiere

First ever Albanian horror movie makes world premiere

TIRANA, March 2 – “Bloodlands” has made its world premiere as an Albanian-Australian co-production, marking the first-ever Albanian horror movie with an Albanian setting and cast. Directed by Greek-Australian Steven Kastrissios and Albanian-Australian producer and actor Dritan Arbana, both of

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Albanian, Dutch artists retrace beauty in paintings

Albanian, Dutch artists retrace beauty in paintings

TIRANA, March 2 – Two Albanian and Dutch artists have opened a joint exhibition retracing Albania’s landmark tourism destinations in paintings. The paintings of Anita Duriçi and Tirana-based Dutch artist Kees Stalman are described as an opportunity to visit beautiful

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A decade on, ‘Internationals’ launched in English

A decade on, ‘Internationals’ launched in English

TIRANA, March 2 – “There is a misunderstanding that ‘Internationals’ is a book against the international community, I have received both compliments and criticism by foreigners,” said writer Ylljet Aliçka at a ceremony this week on the republication of his

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‘Around’ photo exhibition opens at Zeta gallery

‘Around’ photo exhibition opens at Zeta gallery

TIRANA, Feb. 23 – Photographer Ervin Berxolli is being showcased at Tirana’s Zeta gallery with his “Around” series. Curator Ardian Isufi says “Ervin Berxolli’s memory is like going for a curious walk through nature and its traces and getting involved

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Court orders suspension of works at controversial ‘Veliera’ Durres project

Court orders suspension of works at controversial ‘Veliera’ Durres project

TIRANA, Feb. 17 – A court has ordered the suspension of construction works at a controversial project to build a luxury veil-like square in front of the country’s biggest port of Durres that risks burying ancient ruins in concrete next

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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_131726" align="alignright" width="300"]marubi 4 Funeral ceremony, Kel Marubi, 1937[/caption]

TIRANA, March 23 – More than a hundred pictures of the famous 19th and early 20th century Marubi photo collection are being showcased in Connecticut at a gallery run by an Albanian artist in their first trip to the U.S. where an estimated 200,000 people of Albanian roots live.

Gjergj (George) Pali, an artist from Shkodra who managed to flee the country in the late 1980s just before the country's hardline communist regime was collapsing and has been living in the U.S. ever since opening dozens of exhibitions, says he is happy he is inaugurating his GR gallery in Stamford, Connecticut, with the Marubi exhibition.

"It's a great pleasure to inaugurate this gallery and successfully conclude this initiative with friends from Shkodra to have Marubi here," says Pali, a 60 year-old artist who a couple of years ago came back to Albania with an exhibition in Tirana.

Curator Vladimir Myrtezaj described Pali’s May 2015 "Journey" exhibition in Tirana as an intensive artistic research, a fertile imagination, which combines well the genres of painting and collage.

“His work rests upon two main pillars: one is a current of subconscious reminiscence closely related to music, which he often transforms in a thoroughly instrumental form in his paintings, while the second comes from the author’s traumatic journey during which he often considers the origin of life describing it through an openly tragic humor in his paintings,” says the curator about Pali, who escaped Albania for political and artistic reasons in January 1988 at a time when people crossing the border were also executed, imprisoned and had their families interned.

Lucian Bedeni, the director of the Marubi national photo museum in Shkodra, says the exhibition serves promoting cultural heritage.

[caption id="attachment_131728" align="alignright" width="300"]marubi 3 Ships at docks, Kel Marubi, 1913[/caption]

"At a time when everybody seems interested in politics, we should not lose focus on promoting cultural heritage such as Marubi," Bedeni told VoA in the local Albanian service.

The "Life in images" exhibition features 150 black and white pictures portraying men and women from all social classes in their daily life at the end of the 19th century, when the first Albanians migrated to the U.S.  The pictures reveal a people anchored to their traditions, fierce guardians of their identity, set against the backdrop of the flourishing city of Shkodra, says curator Zef Paci.

The selected pictures are part of the newly restored Marubi national museum of photography in Shkodra, home to home to 500,000 photos and negatives tracing the beginning of Albanian photography in the 19th century by capturing life and historic events in Albania and the region.

The exhibition at Gjergj Pali's GR Gallery in Connecticut will remain open for four months until July 17.

Albanian photography started with Pietro Marubi, an Italian immigrant fleeing political repression from his country. He opened Albania’s first photography studio in 1858. Three generations of Marubis followed in his footsteps. For about a century, the Marubi family amassed more than 500,000 negatives. The selection of pictures reveals the political, social, cultural and religious diversity of the country.
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_131586" align="alignright" width="300"]panair elbasan Elbasan handicrafts fair[/caption]

TIRANA, March 13 - The Summer Day atmosphere is already present in Albania's main cities, with celebrations having kicked off in Elbasan, central Albania, the traditional host of the country's sole official holiday with pagan roots marking the end of winter, celebrated nationwide every March 14 since more than a decade now.

Streets have been decorated with flowers and the traditional Summer Day cookie, the ballokume, is present in every shop while sunny weather heralds a March 14 packed with events, especially in Elbasan and Tirana, the holiday's two main hosts attracting dozens of thousands of visitors nationwide.

Celebrations in Elbasan are already underway with a local book fair and two handicrafts and trade fairs drawing visitors in one of the country's eldest cities, only some 30 km off Tirana, linked through a new highway considerably cutting distance since 2013.

The Elbasan public also hosted Verdi's La Traviata last Sunday with some of the best Opera House soloists performing at the local Skampa theatre, in a comeback after four decades to Elbasan. Local government officials in Elbasan described the opera as the culminating moment of the four-day celebrations that have kicked off since March 11.

Other painting, cycling, music, carnival and sports events are scheduled in Elbasan for Tuesday, March, 14, the culmination of celebrations.

A long-awaited local handicraft fair that has opened at the Elbasan ethnographic museum is also seen as an opportunity to preserve local tradition and promote new jobs.

"We had been striving to open this fair in Elbasan for a long time. Finally, we made it, identifying people who deal with handcrafts and artworks. This could also have an impact on employing people in the short-run," Kreshnik Belegu, the director of the Ethnographic Museum is quoted as saying.

The atmosphere in Tirana is also vibrant with the main boulevard already decorated with big flowers and dozens of entertainment events scheduled to take place, including the inauguration of a new historic bazaar downtown the capital city.

"We are ready for Summer Day. We will start with the fantastic inauguration of the Pazari i Ri, games and entertainment at the boulevard, a trade fair and local DJs at the Mother Teresa square, the Lake Carnival, 400 foreign artists at the Pyramid building and a super street party at the Bllok. We will wait for you on March 14 from 9 a.m. until as long as you can!” says Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj.

[caption id="attachment_131587" align="alignright" width="300"]The Pazari The Pazari i Ri market and entertainment square[/caption]

The municipality says celebrations will kick off at 9 a.am. with the inauguration of the Pazari i Ri (New Bazaar) neighbourhood, which has been completely transformed into a multi-functional space that will serve not only as a market for Tirana citizens, but at the same time an attractive space to spend the afternoon. During Summer Day celebrations, this area will host the children's painting corner, a concert by the Opera and Ballet Ensemble and live music in the afternoon.

The municipality says the newly reconstructed Pazari i Ri square will employ about 300 meat, fish and fruit traders in the morning hours and serve as a venue for citizens who want to spend the afternoon enjoying local food.

The Pazari i Ri and the Avni Rustemi square, a joint $3 million investment by the Albanian government and Albanian-American Development Foundation, will serve Tirana as a new commercial but also tourist and entertainment center. A symbol of Tirana's traditional urban life and a destination of commercial value housing more than 15 sites of cultural heritage protected by law, the new bazaar is a described as “perfect candidate for a natural pedestrian mall and tourism destination.”

Visitors to Tirana can also watch some 400 international artists attending Tirana's second watercolor biennale making live demonstrations at the Pyramid building and attend a noon concert with Albanian singers Alban Skënderaj, Marsela Çibukaj, Klajdi Haruni & Bruno at the Rinia park next to the central boulevard.

The southern Albanian town of Permet, nicknamed as the city of flowers and known for its thermal springs and famous canyons, has also announced some events focused on local food and music. The local iso-polyphony tunes masterfully performed by late Permet clarinetist Laver Bariu have been placed under UNESCO protection as “a masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.”

Until a decade ago, summer’s Day was mostly celebrated in Elbasan.

Approved by the Albanian Parliament in 2004 as an official and national holiday, this day of pagan celebration symbolizes the rebirth of nature, the awakening from a long dark winter and a general rejuvenation of one’s spirit.

The celebration of Summer Day dates back to ancient times in the city of Elbasan, which due in part to its location in the geographic center of the country, was considered the umbilical city for all of Albania.

According to an Albanian legend, the Mountain Muse, who was the goddess of hunting, forests, and all things related to nature, would usher in summer by coming out of her temple on the 14th of March.

While thousands of people still rush to Elbasan, where the holiday originates, celebrations in Tirana are becoming even bigger ever since Summer Day was announced a national holiday.
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                    [post_content] => frakofonTIRANA, March 9 - Albania will be holding two weeks of events celebrating Francophone Spring, an annual traditional event celebrating French culture in several Albanian cities and riving culture each March.

This year's events scheduled to be held from March 13 to 28 will focus on the digitalization era, at a time when smartphones dominate and culture is becoming more and more digital each day.

Music, cinema, theatre, exhibitions, conferences, dances, poetry, gastronomy and even wine tasting are some of the events which will be held in Tirana, Shkodra, Korça, Fier, Elbasan, Durres, Vlora, Saranda, but also smaller towns such as Permet, Gramsh, Bajram Curri .

Organized by the French Embassy in Albania and the French Alliance in cooperation with Albanian state institutions, the Francophone Spring events are expected to revive cultural life in Albania, further promoting the French culture and arts in the country which numbers thousands of French speakers.

French is a widely taught in Albanian schools, several of which have also established bilingual Albanian-French sections.

Albania has been a full member of the International Organization of Francophonie since 2006.

 

Francophone Spring events

"Canadian currency and culture" Exhibition

The "Canadian currency and culture" exhibition is an introduction to Canadian culture throughout symbols, history and places depicted. Multimedia, photos and texts in French, English and Albanian, collected by Blerina Berberi and Kevin Tummers will be showcased in this exhibition until April 1.

Opening: Tuesday, March 14, at 17:00

Dit'Art Cultural Centre, Tirana

 

Concert "Soirs de Grand Vent" – Zabo

"Soirs de grand vent" is a musical and poetical journey led by Zabo, a poet and composer. It is a tribute to nature and beauty, filled with hopes and laughter.

 

Tuesday, March 14, at 19:00

National Theatre, Tirana

 

Wednesday, March 15, at 12:30

Skampa Theatre, Elbasan

 

Saturday, March 18, at 19:00

Migjeni Theatre, Shkoder

 

The School for Wives

The first comedy on verses written by Molière. Arnolphe, a wealthy fifty-two year old man, chooses Agnès, a 17 year old girl to be his wife. According to him: if you pick a witty wife, your fate shall be in her hands; but should you choose to wed an idiot, your marriage will be free from worries or betrayal. Horace, his best friend's son, returns home and unbeknownst Arnlophe's plans, confides in him how he's fallen in love with Agnès.

Nothing seems to stop Arnolphe or Horace from trying to hold onto sweet Agnès. Who will win her hand? Will marriage plans come to fruition? This classic farce reveals that perhaps youth and innocence are no assurance of plans for marital bliss, no matter how much effort is involved.

Theatrical Comedy by Molière

National Experimental Theatre "Kujtim Spahivogli"

Wednesday, March 15, at 12:30

 

Concert Macaô

Macaô is a Swiss pop-folk band created by Cyrielle Formaz and Pascal Vigolo, both guitarists and vocalists. Their repertoire includes dynamic and power folk, soft ballads, blues rhythm, Celtic elements and even rock. Now a quintet, Macaô will be playing in Tirana on Friday, March 17th.

Rockstock, Scanderbeg Square, Tirana International Hotel

Friday, March 17, at 21:00

 
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_131487" align="alignright" width="300"]Atelier 2 Pedestrian zone in winning design project[/caption]

TIRANA, March 7 – Architects, academics and culture heritage specialists have come together to strongly oppose government plans to build a bypass in Gjirokastra, a UNESCO World Heritage site in southern Albania, warning that the concrete modern structure ruins the town’s late Middle Ages architecture and poses a threat to the local landmark castle, already damaged by a late 2016 quake. The government insists the project will further boost tourism in town by easing traffic and creating pedestrian zones.

"The project on the construction of a new road, the so-called bypass, destroys part of the museum city of Gjirokastra and endangers the surrounding area," says a petition to the country’s highest authorities initiated by some 30 public figures.

Inscribed on UNESCO as a rare example of an architectural character typical of the Ottoman period, Gjirokastra, situated in the Drinos river valley in southern Albania, features a series of outstanding two-story houses which were developed in the 17th century. The town also retains a bazaar, an 18th-century mosque and two churches of the same period. The 13th-century citadel provides the focal point of the town with its typical tower houses.

Experts say they have identified flaws such as “procedural and administrative violations, legal violations, severe technical and professional issues, non-compliance with the priorities on the historic center and the protected area and the negative impact on the extraordinary universal values” in the winning design project. In their appeal to save Gjirokastra, they call on local and international authorities “to exercise their legal and administrative powers to cancel and stop the bypass project in order to save this ensemble of world heritage both spectacular and fragile from the alienation it would undergo from the project's implementation.”

Citing findings from eleven studies carried out during the past 35 years by national and international experts on the geological condition of the hill where the Gjirokastra castle lies, experts say the area where the bypass is expected to be built displays high geological danger because of its layers and a deep tectonic crack.

A 2015 study conducted by the Albanian unit of Sweden-based Cultural Heritage without Borders showed that at least 169 first and second category culture monuments were in critical condition of being completely destroyed.

Petitioners say UNESCO's Europe and North America unit has told the Albanian Institute of Monuments of Culture to “reevaluate the planned capacity of the bypass and if the proposed level is necessary."

Archaeologist Moikom Zeqo

[caption id="attachment_131488" align="alignright" width="300"]Archaeologist Moikom Zeqo Archaeologist Moikom Zeqo[/caption]

Archaeologist and writer Moikom Zeqo says the bypass project has been undertaken without public hearings and consultations with Gjirokastra heritage experts.

"We studied the bypass project, how it was organized, the studio that designed it and the Euro 4 million amount needed for the project. This project is based on a seemingly natural principle to increase tourist numbers in Gjirokastra, but does not take into account the city's characteristics. Firstly, tourists who come to Gjirokastra walk throughout the city, because of the specific construction, structure and maze of cobbled streets and buildings in this city,” Zeqo is quoted as saying in an interview with local media.

Academic Zeqo suggests a cable car solution instead of the bypass project.

“There could be another solution not through a giant concrete road whose height can reach 12 metres, but transporting tourists through cable car, without ruining the image and without intervening with concrete in a big structure in the Gjirokastra historic centre,” says Zeqo.

The bypass petition has also been signed by Ismail Kadare, Albania's internationally renowned writer and perennial Nobel Prize for Literature candidate, also a native of Gjirokastra.

Archaeologist Zeqo says the bypass project also endangers the 13th century local landmark castle, already damaged by a late 2016 earthquake in Ioannina, neighbouring Greece, some 90 km off Gjirokastra.

"The castle is endangered. The 2016 Ioannina based earthquake severely damaged the cattle’s main tower and its reinforcements. There was deviation from the vertical line of the castle's structure, there were architectonic cracks in the castle and in town, warning of a future catastrophe of the whole of Gjirokastra by seismic waves,” says Zeqo.

“If the castle collapses, Gjirokastra also collapses. This is an emergency problem for Gjirokastra, its protection from seismic destruction and collapse that would also destroy other monuments,” he adds.

Commenting on the bypass project, Zeqo said it is categorically prohibited to intervene in the city's historic centre with modern time elements because of destroying the unity of the historic centre.

"This is also determined by law. We cannot intervene because of ruining what is known as the address of the city's memory. This must not be allowed. It's wrong," says Zeqo, adding that the concrete work and its weight pose a severe threat to the already weak geological structure of the foundations where the castle and the city itself lie.

Another reason is that if the bypass project is built, a considerable number of first and second category monuments of culture could be destroyed.

The academic says the intervention also risks destroying the habitat of some 3,500 bats, the second largest colony of bats in Albania.

“The bypass ruins the whole image of Gjirokastra's historic centre. The construction of this snake-like concrete building changes the whole of Gjirokastra's historical memory,” he says, describing Gjirokastra as a late Middle Ages town, not designed for big roads, known for its cobbled streets and stone roofs.

"Gjirokastra is not a modern city spanning in dozens of kilometers that does not allow you to walk. Gjirokastra is a compact historic city, almost a unity of many monumental elements making up the entirety. It is a monumental complex called a town. The bypass not only destroys the image of the historic centre, but its weight endangers the safety of environment and all fragile terrain endangered by seismic waves,” says Zeqo.

Cultural heritage experts say the culture ministry has recently removed some 236 second category monuments from the list of Gjirokastra protected monuments for unknown reasons and that 20 first category monuments are in danger of collapse.

Gov't stance

Government officials claim the introduction of a bypass road will have a direct impact on the traffic in the historic centre of the UNESCO heritage city, which set to turn into a car-free zone.

"This project aims at improving vehicle circulation and returning the historic centre back to its identity. Once completed, the bypass will serve all citizens and visitors of Gjirokastra and keep the historical centre activities undisturbed by the traffic," the government says.

The culture ministry says "the Gjirokastra bypass, well-integrated to the city's road system will tackle the traffic problem in the Bazaar Pass, turning into a pedestrian zone, and that its  construction is being carried out in parallel with the restoration and revitalization of the Gjirokastra bazaar.

Gjirokastra is the hometown of internationally renowned writer Ismail Kadare whose home turned into a museum house in early 2016 on the writer's 80th birthday. Late dictator Enver Hoxha also grew up in Gjirokastra with his home housing the local ethnographic museum.

A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2005, Gjirokastra attracts one of the biggest number of foreign tourists in Albania.

 
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                    [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_123128" align="alignright" width="300"]haliti 2 Helidon Haliti[/caption]

TIRANA, March 2 - Tirana is poised to turn into a global stage for watercolor artists again welcoming about 400 artists from 65 countries around the world after its late 2015 inaugural edition.

Helidon Haliti, a 47-year veteran painter who late last year got an award at the Hong Kong Watercolor Biennale, says this year's event scheduled for March 12 to 17 will bring exhibitions, live performances and workshops that also promote Albania as an emerging Mediterranean destination.

"Since the 2015 biennale, there has been tangible progress of watercolor in Albania. This is because painting students were inspired by great global artists they met and want to follow their techniques. Even Albanian painters who don't exclusively work on watercolor, have come back and will be introducing themselves at the biennale. This was the reason we needed to have a watercolor biennale in Tirana,” says Haliti, the event organizer, who has represented Albania at several watercolor festivals.

The artist describes the event as a summary of an almost forgotten genre in Albania.

“The watercolor biennale represents a missing part of the visual arts landscape in Albania. Everybody starts with watercolors but the roots are damaged as artists grow,” he says.

This year's exhibition will separately showcase great watercolor masters, young artists and amateurs including from Canada, South Korea, China and Russia.

Live demonstrations involve painting ten renowned Albanian personalities and ten castles in front of the pyramid building, a former mausoleum of Stalinist ex-dictator Enver Hoxha, built in 1988 to commemorate Hoxha’s 80th birthday, three years after his death.

HalitiInternational artists such as India’s Amit Kapoor, Turkish-Canadian Atanur Dogan, Australia’s David Taylor but also Albanian and Kosovo artists will compete for five awards, including best portrait, best landscape and composition.

“The festival’s goal is multifunctional, it started as love for watercolor paintings, the technique of childhood, as a desire to revive this technique which has been silent in the past 25 years in Albania and is turning into a wonderful advertisement to promote Albania, its beauty, art, culture, tradition and above all its famous landscapes and hospitality,” says Haliti.

Haliti, who belongs to the new generation of contemporary Albanian students who graduated during the early 1990s from the Academy of Fine Arts in Tirana soon after the collapse of the communist regime describes conceiving an artwork as an event to him.

“I live 24 hours a day as an artist and I think the concerns and instinct guide me, I’m not a totally cold conceptual artist. I fight with myself and the canvas,” says Haliti.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 2 - "Bloodlands" has made its world premiere as an Albanian-Australian co-production, marking the first-ever Albanian horror movie with an Albanian setting and cast.

Directed by Greek-Australian Steven Kastrissios and Albanian-Australian producer and actor Dritan Arbana, both of whom based in Australia, the movie treats the much rumoured topic of blood feuds in some remote Albanian areas based on Kanun, a medieval code of conduct covering every aspect of life. The movie that made its world premiere at Scotland’s FrightFest Glasgow festival late last February is set to tour several other festival before making its premiere in Albania later this year.

Shot in the outskirts of Tirana, the thriller, explores blood-feuds, also treated in several other Albanian movies, but this time through the lens of a horror fable.

Speaking in an interview ahead of the movie premiere, Steven Kastrissios told the UK's Horror Channel it all started several years ago when having coffee with his Albanian-Australian friend, Dritan Arbana. "He told me about the blood-feuds and I instantly saw an idea for a story and also importantly, how to make it a viable production with limited means," says the 34-year-old film director.

Asked about why he had decided to shoot the movie in Albanian language, the director said putting it in English would have been a terrible decision.

"Certainly having non-English language does hurt sales internationally, but what’s the alternative? Having Albanians speak English instead? People have suggested that, but I think that’s a terrible decision long-term that would seriously compromise this project. Albanian is an ancient language rarely heard outside of the region and it’s one of the few that has no root in other languages, so we should preserve it," says the director.

The Australia-based director says the story he wrote back in Sydney felt authentic when he visited blood-feud affected areas in Albania.

"The Albania I saw, mainly when we were location scouting, knocking on doors and seeing into people’s home lives, gave me confidence to know that the story I’d written in Sydney felt authentic to Albania. I’m half Greek and Albania and Greece share a border, so there was that familiarity for me as well. Although the two countries certainly have significant cultural differences, there is still a Mediterranean through-line that is similar," he said.

Alesia Xhemalaj, one of the movie's actors starring as Ilirjana, a young women in her 20s, says she was lucky to be part of the movie.

"The movie belongs to the horror genre which has not been experimented earlier in Albania. I was lucky to be part of the production with a professional director such as Kastrissios and very good cast of actors that made you feel comfortable," she has told Albanian media.

Back in 2011, the Forgiveness of Blood, another movie focusing on blood feud conflicts directed by America’s Joshua Marston, grabbed the Silver Bear Award at the Berlinale 2011 for the best script written by Albania-born, New York-based scriptwriter Andamion Murataj.
                    [post_title] => First ever Albanian horror movie makes world premiere
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, March 2 - Two Albanian and Dutch artists have opened a joint exhibition retracing Albania's landmark tourism destinations in paintings.

The paintings of Anita Duriçi and Tirana-based Dutch artist Kees Stalman are described as an opportunity to visit beautiful Albanian destinations, touch the spiritual landscapes of the past through loved and unknown images.

"We will be retracing together places, time and feelings in the ‘Retrace’ exhibition. Only memories, which we turn to again and again, remain between yesterday and present day. The future is created through a mix of colors, shapes, feelings and the past becomes present and merges into the canvas to remain there forever," the artists say about the exhibition.

The Dutch embassy in Tirana described the exhibition as a rare example of Albanian-Dutch cooperation in the cultural field.

The exhibition, promoting the beauty of Albania through paintings of Albanian landscape and showcasing about 60 oil on canvas and pastel paintings, will be open at Tirana's National History Museum from March 3 to 8.
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                    [post_content] => book 2TIRANA, March 2 – “There is a misunderstanding that 'Internationals' is a book against the international community, I have received both compliments and criticism by foreigners,” said writer Ylljet Aliçka at a ceremony this week on the republication of his much-rumored book a decade after its launch.

"Without help by the international community, it would be difficult for Albania to go through transition to democracy in the early 1990s," Aliçka, a former diplomat and scriptwriter, told an audience of writers, journalists and art lovers this week at an event on the book's republication by the Tirana Times publishing house.

The Tirana Times publishing house has launched the book in English translated by June Taylor, and also republished the book in its Albanian and French versions.

"Having the book republished after a decade is a sign of appreciation for every writer. The topic is still current with the presence of the international community, clichés and misunderstandings. The internationals' universal systems often do not match the complex Albanian reality,” said Aliçka.

The book is considered an effort to demythicise everything coming from abroad, often compared to idolatry most Albanians displayed against party leaders under communism which banned religion for more than two decades, turning then-Stalinist Albania into the world's first official atheist country and isolating the country into what has been described as Europe's North Korea.

Writer Diana Çuli praised the book for its style, setting, subtle humour and even sarcasm.

“In all his creativity, Aliçka uses humour and sarcasm to unveil human character and everyday situations,” said Çuli.

INTERNATIONALScover-page-001The Tirana Times publishing house says it chose to republish the book for the unusual echo and attention it attracted and because of the topic it treats and its quality that made the writer and diplomat go beyond the borders of small country such as Albania by being published in France and already underway of getting published in Norway and Italy.

“The book is a contribution to modernization and democratization of the Albanian society offering a critical approach over the increasing culture of dependence on the international community almost a century after the Paris Peace Conference that divided Albanian territories,” said Albert Rakipi, the director of the Albanian Institute for International Studies, one of the country’s top think tanks.

"Increased culture of dependency toward the international community damages small and poor countries such as Albania," he added.

Aliçka, who recalled how the book caused him trouble with calls to 'ban the book and punish the author’ said he is writing an epilogue to the book.

A former ambassador to France and a scriptwriter, Aliçka is also having his ‘Internationals’ book turned into a movie directed by Albania's Pluton Vasi.

"When I read Ylljet's novel I was intrigued by the relation of a certain group of people, exactly the internationals, who come with the status of people who know everything. The movie is about a story of everyday routine of a specific diplomatic administration that undertakes to unveil its representation values," the director has said.

"The film is a black comedy with very interesting situations and relationships that make up a novelty in the media communication between viewers and cinema," says Vasi.

"Internationals are simple people in their own countries, but when they come to Albania they transform and show off. This is the gist of it. But this also happens with the Albanians' help who have always had internationals as a reference point," he adds.

Ylljet Aliçka has also had his “Parullat me gurë” (The Slogans in stone) short story turned into the “Slogans” movie that claimed the Young Critics award at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. The movie set in communist Albania depicts the ideological brainwashing of Albanians who were also tasked with voluntary duties of building giant socialist realism and patriotic slogans on hill slopes.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, Feb. 23 - Photographer Ervin Berxolli is being showcased at Tirana's Zeta gallery with his "Around" series. 

Curator Ardian Isufi says "Ervin Berxolli's memory is like going for a curious walk through nature and its traces and getting involved in a herbaria album, researching into its anatomy, fragility, often stifled through urban shapes as an unavoidable part of violent human intervention."

"His photo installations are not site specific, they come as cosmos pieces where the mysterious contact with nature is poetic and sincere," says curator Isufi about the exhibition that will be open from February 23 to March 7.

 
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                    [post_content] => velieraTIRANA, Feb. 17 - A court has ordered the suspension of construction works at a controversial project to build a luxury veil-like square in front of the country's biggest port of Durres that risks burying ancient ruins in concrete next to the landmark Durres castle and Venetian tower. The decision by the Durres Administrative Court came following protests by civil society activists and a lawsuit against Durres Mayor Vangjush Dako over the continuation of works after an Ottoman era building, a cannon and some catapult stones were discovered during digging works.

The court decision halts construction works on the much rumored "Veliera" project in the area where the finds have been discovered until a final say by the National Archaeology Council which is already conducting site research.

The Forum for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, an organization bringing together public figures, described the court decision as only half-victory, warning that protests will not stop.

Mirela Jorgo, a lawyer who represented civil society activists at the Durres Court, says the Durres municipality led by mayor Vangjush Dako “has committed a criminal offence by building concrete structures in ancient ruins and falsified a 2011 map by narrowing the "Zone A" area where every kind of construction work is banned.”

Ruling Socialist Party Durres Mayor Vangjush Dako has insisted digging works have only been made in the allowed Zone B and that the project will serve Durres and further promote tourism in the country's second largest city only 30 km from Tirana.

[caption id="attachment_131065" align="alignright" width="300"]The Veliera design project The Veliera design project[/caption]

A BIRN news agency report earlier unveiled the municipality of Durres signed a contract with the Archaeology Institute and the Archaeological Rescue Agency only two months after digging works kicked off at a time when the majority of underground works had already been completed.

The 6-million euro government-funded “Veliera” project will be a 12,000 m2 square with a giant 2,000 m2 veil on it.

The project which is being implemented ahead of next June’s general elections has been criticized for its high cost at a time when Durres suffers prolonged tap water cuts, lacks a waste treatment plant and faces frequent flash flooding due to lack of proper sewer systems, hampering its key tourism industry.

Socialist Party Mayor Vangjush Dako, now in his third consecutive term as Durres Mayor, has often been publicly accused of increasing concrete areas in Durres due to alleged interests in a concrete company where he was a shareholder before taking office as Durres Mayor in 2007.

The project comes after Durres reconstructed its central square and archaeology museum in the past few years, making it more attractive to tourists.

Founded in the 7th century BC under the name Epidamnos, Durres has been continuously inhabited for 27 centuries and is one of the oldest cities in Albania. The city boasts a Roman amphitheater of the 2nd century A.D, one of the largest in the Balkan.
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            [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_131726" align="alignright" width="300"]marubi 4 Funeral ceremony, Kel Marubi, 1937[/caption]

TIRANA, March 23 – More than a hundred pictures of the famous 19th and early 20th century Marubi photo collection are being showcased in Connecticut at a gallery run by an Albanian artist in their first trip to the U.S. where an estimated 200,000 people of Albanian roots live.

Gjergj (George) Pali, an artist from Shkodra who managed to flee the country in the late 1980s just before the country's hardline communist regime was collapsing and has been living in the U.S. ever since opening dozens of exhibitions, says he is happy he is inaugurating his GR gallery in Stamford, Connecticut, with the Marubi exhibition.

"It's a great pleasure to inaugurate this gallery and successfully conclude this initiative with friends from Shkodra to have Marubi here," says Pali, a 60 year-old artist who a couple of years ago came back to Albania with an exhibition in Tirana.

Curator Vladimir Myrtezaj described Pali’s May 2015 "Journey" exhibition in Tirana as an intensive artistic research, a fertile imagination, which combines well the genres of painting and collage.

“His work rests upon two main pillars: one is a current of subconscious reminiscence closely related to music, which he often transforms in a thoroughly instrumental form in his paintings, while the second comes from the author’s traumatic journey during which he often considers the origin of life describing it through an openly tragic humor in his paintings,” says the curator about Pali, who escaped Albania for political and artistic reasons in January 1988 at a time when people crossing the border were also executed, imprisoned and had their families interned.

Lucian Bedeni, the director of the Marubi national photo museum in Shkodra, says the exhibition serves promoting cultural heritage.

[caption id="attachment_131728" align="alignright" width="300"]marubi 3 Ships at docks, Kel Marubi, 1913[/caption]

"At a time when everybody seems interested in politics, we should not lose focus on promoting cultural heritage such as Marubi," Bedeni told VoA in the local Albanian service.

The "Life in images" exhibition features 150 black and white pictures portraying men and women from all social classes in their daily life at the end of the 19th century, when the first Albanians migrated to the U.S.  The pictures reveal a people anchored to their traditions, fierce guardians of their identity, set against the backdrop of the flourishing city of Shkodra, says curator Zef Paci.

The selected pictures are part of the newly restored Marubi national museum of photography in Shkodra, home to home to 500,000 photos and negatives tracing the beginning of Albanian photography in the 19th century by capturing life and historic events in Albania and the region.

The exhibition at Gjergj Pali's GR Gallery in Connecticut will remain open for four months until July 17.

Albanian photography started with Pietro Marubi, an Italian immigrant fleeing political repression from his country. He opened Albania’s first photography studio in 1858. Three generations of Marubis followed in his footsteps. For about a century, the Marubi family amassed more than 500,000 negatives. The selection of pictures reveals the political, social, cultural and religious diversity of the country.
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