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News 16 Mar 17

Proposed Ban on Albanian Communist Films Sparks Backlash

The Institute for Communist Crimes argues that banning Communist-era films from television would reduce nostalgia for the old regime, but movie buffs say it’s an attack on the country’s cinematic heritage.

Fatjona Mejdini
'Butterfly in My Cabin', an Albanian film from 1988. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

The proposal from the state-funded Institute for Communist Crimes to ban movies produced during the communist era from television has triggered a public backlash and opened up debate about the place that Communist-era art should have in today’s Albania.

Agron Tufa, a well-known author and the director of the Institute for Communist Crimes, told BIRN that a draft recommendation that it intended to eventually become a law being prepared in collaboration with other institutes.

"The initiative is led by us and aims to contribute to the decommunisation of society. The movies during that time served as a massive brainwashing tool to convey genocidal propaganda and hate amid classes," Tufa said.

"Today we are at risk, since the showing of these movies keeps alive and activates nostalgia for the dictatorship... They do great damage to public health and are an ethical and aesthetic catastrophe which affects the younger generation," he added.

He said that the overwhelming majority of Communist-era films should be banned from television and those few which are not so full of propaganda should only be aired with a studio announcement beforehand about the reasons for showing them.

The institute has no official powers to do anythkng more than propose new legislation.

But its proposal has sparked negative reactions from the public, including criticism from people who were involved in the films themselves.

Kolec Traboini, who served as a screenwriter at the Kinostudio production house for 16 years during Communism, said he considered the initiative unacceptable.

"The Albanian movie is history, although some don't want to accept it. It is one thing to hate communism and another is to know the realities of that time," Traboini wrote on Facebook.

The actress Monika Lubonja also expressed concern over the initiative, and said she appreciated the work of her older colleagues under Communism.

"If somebody asked me, at what time would you want to be an actress, I would definitely say at the time of [Communist-era actresses] Marie Logoreci, Tinka Kurtit, Margarita Xhepes… a time when art had spirit, sacrifices, emotions and love," Lubonja wrote on Facebook.

Some also suggested that it would be unfair to ban the films produced under Communism while some people who held important positions under the former regime are still active in political life.

Many also expressed nostalgia about the good acting and the memorable quotes from Communist-era films that have remained in the public mind.

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