The Following is a True Story: Fiction, Bunkerization and Cinema in Post-Socialist Albania

By Alison Reilly

“A bunker is a concrete shelter, half under ground, half above ground, rounded, with a small aperture to shoot out of,” says army officer Nuro Meta as he draws the simple structure on a paper napkin. His wife Ana listens patiently as he tries to explain the importance of his new task of bunkerization in Albania. A phone rings, interrupting their conversation before Ana has an opportunity to question him any further.

kolonel bunkerBunkerization in the late 1970s and early 1980s under Enver Hoxha’s regime is the subject of Kujtim Çashku’s film, Kolonel Bunker. The film, made in 1996 as Albania transitioned from forty years of Enver Hoxha’s rule, is based loosely on the life of Albanian army officer and engineer Josif Zegali. Çashku spent the 1970s and 80s working for state-run Kinostudio Shqipëria e Re, but his travels to other Balkan countries also contributed to his emergence as an independent filmmaker after the collapse of Hoxha’s government. While Çashku is generally praised by Albanian film scholars and well received in international film communities, the complexities of his work have not received adequate consideration. In “The Distant Among Us: Kolonel Bunker (1998) in a Post-Colonial Context,” Bruce Williams (2014) provides essential information about the production and direction of the film, filling in the gaps in brief film reviews and synopses of Kolonel Bunker. This essay will build on Williams’ contextual information to examine the role of complicity within Kolonel Bunker and the larger history of socialist realist film in Albania.

kinostudio 1952From 1977 to 1981 Hoxha’s regime ordered the construction of hundreds of thousands of concrete bunkers across Albania. While there is no official count, an estimated 750,000 bunkers were constructed. In the same four-year period, Kinostudio produced an average of fifteen feature films per year, in addition to numerous documentaries and newsreels.[1] While the film crews of Kinostudio were busy writing scripts, filming at various sites across the country, and editing at the studio on the outskirts of Tirana, the Albanian army sourced concrete from factories located in Elbasan and Vlorë and prefabricated sections at a factory in Tirana (Iwaskiw and Zickel 1994). An extensive production network was developed across the northern, southwest, and central regions of the country in an effort to meet Hoxha’s high demand and quick construction timeline. Çashku’s Kolonel Bunker serves as a single case study in the investigation of the poetics and visual tropes of socialist and post-socialist societies.

kolonel bunkerAt the beginning of Kolonel Bunker, as the title credits begin, one sentence in English appears on screen: “The following is a true story…” The disclaimer operates with an illogical but important conceit: the viewer acknowledges that the film is a work of fiction but is immediately told that the fiction is a true story. Certainly, many directors use this filmic device, but it is significant in this particular case because Kolonel Bunker emerges from a history of socialist realist film that relies on film narratives to express the sentiments of the state. Political theorist, Lisa Wedeen (1999: 74), in her analysis of the rhetoric and symbols of Hafiz al-Asad’s regime in Syria, writes, “To be complicit is to allow oneself to be made an accomplice, to become bound up in the actions and practices the regime promotes.” Within the context of an authoritarian regime (and often in other models of state power) individuals who witness government rituals, stories, or slogans, become complicit in the actions of their government. Wedeen (1999: 69) offers her definition of complicity in an effort to bring forward a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which “meaningful fictions” of political states, over time, become truths. Meaningful fictions include stories (told by both the government and civilians) whose truthfulness cannot be confirmed, but through their circulation function as truths. The greater the number of witnesses to the particular fiction that is being expressed, the stronger the truth of the fiction becomes.

In order to examine the issue of complicity, Wedeen (1999: 67) retells the story of M, an unidentified Syrian soldier:

One day a high-ranking officer visiting the regiment ordered the soldiers to recount their dreams of the night before. A soldier stepped forward and announced: “I saw the image of the leader in the sky, and we mounted ladders of fire to kiss it.” A second soldier followed suit: “I saw the leader holding the sun in his hands, and he squeezed it, crushing it until it crumbled. Darkness blanketed the face of the earth. And then his face illuminated the sky, spreading light and warmth in all directions.” Soldier followed soldier, each extolling the leader’s greatness. When M’s turn came, he stepped forward, saluted the visiting officer, and said: “I saw that my mother is a prostitute in your bedroom.” The beating and discharge followed. Commenting retrospectively on his act, M explained that he had “meant that his country is a whore.”

Wedeen admits that she cannot verify whether the story is true or not, but she includes it in her discussion as a “meaningful fiction…moving beyond the specific example of Syria to explore the general relevance to political and social theory of cognitive states other than belief” (Wedeen, 1999: 69). She argues that M undermines traditional familial tropes of Hafiz al-Asad’s cult, while simultaneously recognizing his part in the regime’s structure. Wedeen names M as a voyeur in the fiction, a witness to the prostitution of his own country. Thus, Wedeen argues that in naming himself as an observer, M recognizes his complicity within a fiction-building enterprise. This type of complicity, in which individuals are actively upholding the structures of the regime, while concurrently falling victim to its terror and violence, speaks directly to the types of power dynamics at play in Kolonel Bunker. While the film overtly emphasizes the physicality of the bunkers and their psychological effects as symbols of isolationism, complicity emerges as the primary reason that Hoxha’s government can continue to maintain an aggressive hold on power. Further, the absence of Hoxha’s physical body, only to be embodied by a voice or represented by printed propaganda materials and the decision to implement a larger cast of characters as an extension of his will plays a crucial role in the development of complicity.

Evading Representation
Hoxha’s physical absence in Kolonel Bunker aligns with Albania’s history of socialist realism developed at Kinostudio. Hoxha is represented countless times in documentaries and newsreels, but unlike Stalin and Tito he refused to be depicted by an actor in feature films (Hysi, Peshkopia and Zahaj 2014).[2] He ignored requests from Kinostudio several times, stating ironically, “Comrade Enver does not wish to distinguish himself among other comrades” (Hysi, Peshkopia and Zahaj 2014: 74). However, as he aged and as his diplomatic relations with the USSR and China soured, he began to request that he be represented in some way within feature films. In many cases, he opted for a simple title card with one of his quotes at the beginning of the film. As Hysi, Peshkopia and Zahaj state (2014: 74), “Gradually, by the early 1970s, it began to be highly recommended that any artistic or scholarly work published in Albania should begin with a quote from Enver Hoxha on the subject matter.” They argue that this tactic gave Hoxha a mystic quality and thus conveyed a sense of omnipotence, because Hoxha refused physical embodiment, instead favoring the voice-over.

While Hoxha’s physical absence in many socialist realist films may at times position him as an omnipotent being, in other films it allows other characters to take on essential roles. In Tomka and His Friends, a group of young boys confront the invasion of their village, in particular their football field, by Nazi occupiers, and they conspire with a group of local partisans to plot an attack on the German camp. The boys operate independently, and director Xhanfize Keko does not simply replace the absent parents with the figure of Enver Hoxha (Williams 2013: 45). Instead, the boys rely consistently on each other, even when one of them is seriously injured. In this example, Hoxha’s absence allows the boys to develop independently as faithful partisans to the Albanian state. In this case, the young protagonists in Tomka were depicted as ideal models for Albanian boys. Therefore, in order to construct a mythic fiction of the state, Hoxha’s regime sought the participation of a generation of boys as dutiful partisans. This example is not meant to judge the interpretation of the film by audiences at the time, but it demonstrates the reliance of the state on the complicity of the people in order to maintain power.

In opposition to the young partisans in Tomka are the Nazi soldiers and the Balli Kombëter (National Front) supporters who are openly described as the enemy and are socially ridiculed. Much of Albanian socialist realist film incriminates specific ethnic and social groups within Albania who often identified as collaborators or known informally as “declassified,” a term used to describe political prisoners and their extended families. In the eyes of the state and reflected on screen, these criminals are not only reprimanded for petty offenses but also for failing to uphold their civic responsibilities. Besim, the protagonist in Çashku’s film The Warm Hand (Dora e ngrohtë, 1983) is considered corrupted because of his association with a “declassified” character, and he ultimately serves time in prison for his actions.

kolonel bunkerKolonel Bunker, on the other hand, operates outside of this prescriptive narrative of blame. Çashku chooses to retain Hoxha’s absence in Kolonel Bunker, thus propagating the myth of the leader as a figure who evades representation, but Hoxha’s representation in Kolonel Bunker functions much differently than his previous depictions. At the beginning of film, Colonel Nuro Meta is awoken in the middle of the night and must report immediately to a government building where he is taken to a small room. As he enters, the camera faces the Colonel head on, so that the view of the room is blocked from the viewer’s eyes, creating a small cramped space. The camera remains on his face as he steps from side to side nervously, looking for some indication of a physical presence. As he moves, the camera angle widens, allowing the viewer to see more of the room, which is decorated with a red chair, a coat hanger with a single black coat and hat, a desk filled with papers, and a large white bust on a wood pedestal. After panning the room, the camera cuts to a close-up shot of the back of a technician winding a tape on a large player. A voice starts to speak and the Colonel drops his hat in surprise, stumbling at the noise. The camera cuts to a close-up, low-angle shot of Colonel Meta, which follows his movement as he slowly picks up his hat from the ground. Colonel Meta, still pacing, listens with a look of grave concern. The speaker becomes the object of focus in the scene and as the camera circles around it, so too does the Colonel, thus the two mimic each other. The voice, played by Albanian actor Fatos Sela, says, "Colonel, the doctors have ordered me to stay in bed. We called you to tell you that, as of today, the Albanian army has suspended the military hierarchy. Whoever opposes this will be shot. As for you, instead of being made general, you will be given the historic mission of bunkerising Albania."

As the voice speaks, the viewer quickly grasps the Colonel’s anxiety as he stumbles around the room. The absence of a physical body attached to the voice immediately disarms his previous sense of purpose. He is awoken in the middle of the night to report to the military that he serves; he is denied the raise in rank that he so coveted; and he is not even allowed in the presence of the leader who is delivering the brief message. From the audience’s perspective, the Colonel’s future appears bleak. Although the voice is not identified in the film, historically, it represents Hoxha. The white bust in the scene also represents the Albanian leader and one can presume that the scene takes place in the leader’s office that has now been vacated due to his illness.[3]

kolonel bunkerHowever, upon closer inspection, Hoxha’s voice on the tape recording sounds somewhat weak. He speaks slowly, sounding almost out of breath. Whereas a visual depiction of Hoxha would allow viewers to humanize this political figure, Çashku retains Hoxha in a celestial realm, a presence that is only represented by a voice but never by a physical body. In theory, a depiction of Hoxha could bring forward a critique of his imperfections and thus establish a corrupted image of his figure. One could argue that by abstaining from physically representing Hoxha, Çashku in fact distinguishes him from other characters. However, in the case of Kolonel Bunker, Çashku does not fully develop Hoxha’s character as the film continues. The Colonel has no direct communication with him in any of the following scenes, nor do any other characters mention him.[4] Even in describing to his wife the events that unfolded he does not isolate Hoxha or hold ill will against him specifically. While Hoxha’s voice orders the Colonel to begin the bunkerization program, ultimately, the leader is absent from a narrative that he engendered. Instead, other characters in the film begin to take on Hoxha’s role as the arbiter of justice, the executioner, and the censor. These characters adopt Hoxha’s shape and fill his absence within the film, thus suggesting a more complex system of oppression and violence. Further, the absence of Hoxha from the film is significant because Çashku refuses to give the viewer an identifiable scapegoat. Çashku’s erasure of Hoxha’s character from his film ultimately allows him to introduce numerous examples of complicity within the Albanian political system.

Citizen vs. State
Çashku’s depictions of overt violence, specifically the execution scene that occurs in the first fifteen minutes of the film, should also be considered within the larger discussion of complicity. Again, Hoxha’s absence should be noted, as he is not shown giving any orders to his army. Although there are guards lining the entrance as the trucks descend, this is not a public execution. It takes place beneath the ground, out of the public’s view and beyond governmental buildings. Despite the informal background, doctors, military officers in full uniform, and men in grey suits with pistols totaling almost fifteen people accompany three prisoners to their respective execution mounds in the ground. An older man in black, known as the Prosecutor, who oversees the execution, speaks to one of the young men with a pistol.[5] The camera cuts to a close-up shot of the two of them side by side with their gazes focused to the left of the frame. The Prosecutor, played by Guljelm Radoja, says, “We all had to start by proving ourselves. A firing squad’s the best way, but it depends on who you shoot. You’re lucky.” He then moves behind the young man and outside of the frame. The young man, his hair plastered on his forehead from the rain responds, “Lucky?” with his attention still solely focused on the prisoners. The Prosecutor moves back into the frame and says, “Instead of shooting a priest, a thief or a prostitute, you’ve got a minister,” referring to a position within the government, “It’s a great honor, isn’t it?”

Historically, this scene visualizes Hoxha’s decision to purge older members of the Albanian Party of Labor (Partia e Punës e Shqipërisë or PPSH) and replace them with a younger generation of leaders. Although these men have the least power politically, in the scene they are tasked as the executioners. In Kanan Makiya’s Republic of Fear (1989: 72), the Iraqi author describes a scene in which Sadaam Hussein in 1979 during a sensationalized political trial, “called upon the country’s top ministers and party leaders to themselves form the actual firing squads.” Wedeen (1999: 79) comments on this description writing that, “Makiya makes an important connection between victimization, participation, and complicity…Although even participants can hold the regime accountable, complicity does make it harder for actors like the soldiers to represent themselves as being mere victims of authoritarian caprice.” Likewise, the young men in Kolonel Bunker could argue that they were forced to shoot the political prisoners, or they themselves would be killed, but these men still ultimately carry out the murder. This process of forcing a younger generation of politicians to commit acts of murder against older leaders brings forth a discussion of the incredible difficulties that Albanians still continue to face in transitioning from communist rule. Hoxha was able to maintain control in large part due to his security forces, the Sigurimi i Shtetit. “Its activities permeated Albanian society to the extent that every third citizen had either served time in labor camps or been interrogated by Sigurimi officers” (Iwaskiw and Zickel 1994). Although not explicitly named as such, the executioners in Kolonel Bunker are unmistakably representations of the Sigurimi officers. Filmmaker Iris Elezi recounts that almost twenty-five years after the collapse of Hoxha’s government, it is still “so hard to breathe” in her country because of complex and incestuous spying mechanisms coupled with the internal persecution of Albanian citizens.[6] Elezi anecdotally recalls that daughters spied on their own fathers and cousins would spy on each other. While her statement cannot be confirmed, the overall sentiment that Elezi expresses can be interpreted in Wedeen’s word as a “meaningful fiction.”[7] Çashku repeatedly represents Elezi’s sentiment on screen, in scenes such as the execution of political prisoners but also within intimate moments between the Colonel and Ana.

kolonel bunkerThese moments that Çashku visualizes demonstrate an overt violation of privacy; the Sigurimi were not on the outside looking in, but actually embedded within the homes of Albanian citizens. In one scene, two army officials carry a large white box with a red ribbon into Colonel Meta and Ana’s living room. Ana unwraps the package, and to her surprise, she finds a model of a bunker. Repulsed by the object, she hesitatingly asks where it should go in their apartment and then refuses all of the Colonel’s suggestions. She tells her husband that she does not want the model in her house and as he tries to reassure her, he says, “Quiet, the walls have ears.” As Ana becomes more distraught, he puts his arms around her shoulders and leads her to their bathroom, which has a large plastic sheet hanging from the ceiling. He pulls the plastic up and places it over the two of them so they can speak without the fear of being recorded by the Sigurimi. Their voices are distorted under the plastic as Ana shakes with anger and Colonel Meta repeatedly tries to comfort and embrace her. Colonel Meta often defends the decision of Hoxha’s regime to implement the bunkerization program to both his wife and fellow military officers, and he cooperates with the abolishment of rank in the army, but this domestic scene highlights his acknowledgement of the violence of the state against its citizens and his complicity within the larger system of power. Despite his outward appearance as a comrade loyal to Hoxha, he, too, has to make internal adjustments to ensure personal privacy for himself and his wife. Czechoslovakian writer and politician Václav Havel argues that this type of complicity operates with the understanding that it is easier to modify personal behaviors in order to exist in relative peace, rather than combat the status quo. Havel (1992: 132), writing during the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia, uses the example of the greengrocer who places a poster in his shop window that says, “Workers of the world, unite!” and argues that this slogan likely does not “express their real opinions.” Instead, he argues, the greengrocers place the slogan in their windows to avoid any confrontation or questioning about loyalty to the government.[8] Of course, Colonel Meta’s plastic sheet is not a public display of his acceptance of Hoxha’s regime, but it demonstrates, in the case of Albania, the private adjustments that must be made in order to live in relative peace.

kolonel bunkerThe complicated nature of the state’s relationship with the personal lives of its citizens also comes to bear later in the film, after Colonel Meta is beaten, tortured and imprisoned for expressing, though only through body language, his frustration with the actions of the government. Meta asks the reason for his imprisonment and the Prosecutor responds, “You dreamt, and secretly, that dream became reality. That is treason…You’ve been leading a double life. The hero of the bunker and the anti-hero who supported the hierarchy. Instead of the hero, the anti-hero has triumphed. Instead of glory, shame!” The Prosecutor refers to the Colonel’s role as the overseer of the bunkerization program coupled with his private frustration with the removal of rank from the Albanian army. While Colonel Meta was certainly unhappy with the changes in the army, he never publicly complained about the situation. For most of the first half of the film, he silences any opposition to the bunkerization program and views his task as a compulsory part of his duty as a soldier. Only when he is publicly humiliated as the guinea pig for testing the durability of the bunkers does the Colonel express his distaste and utter confusion about the bunkerization program. After he survives the bunker-bombing test, he runs out alone into the ocean and throws down his helmet in frustration. Çashku’s portrayal of Meta implies that Hoxha’s regime can torture and imprison citizens for their aspirations, their supposed dreams that might undermine the changes in the political system.

Unlike Wedeen’s story of M, the Prosecutor is not referring to a specific dream that Colonel Meta had while sleeping, but instead he calls out the Colonel’s private thoughts as subversion of the state. With this rationale in mind, the state gives itself the authority to judge the fantasies of its citizens, which then become entangled in the fiction that the regime tries to maintain. The laws of the socialist state do not rely on the observable actions of citizens, but instead their power extends to a subconscious level. The Colonel did not outwardly condemn the regime: he simply collapsed into the ocean after the humiliation of being in the bunker while a bomb fell overhead. Nevertheless, the narrative suggests that the Colonel was not in line with the understood and unspoken code of conduct. Citizens in this type of state are expected to adjust their behavior based on unwritten rules, which are continually in flux. Colonel Meta did not come out of the bunker smiling and cheering, happy to be alive. His face was grim as he ignored requests for a response from a group of reporters observing the scene. This legitimate, authentic emotional response serves as the turning point in the narrative, as the Colonel’s world quickly unravels. While Çashku does not direct the blame for the atrocities in his country directly towards the communist leader Enver Hoxha, he illustrates the intricate levels of complicity that lead to more sophisticated organizations of power and state-sanctioned violence. Together these scenes demonstrate the ability of this structure to both indoctrinate a younger generation into a system of violence and to hold its citizens accountable for psychological transgressions against the state. As fictions, their power depends on the way they are told and how they disseminate throughout a society. Çashku, while engaging both the propagandistic enterprises of the bunkers and Kinostudio, retells the story of Hoxha’s regime.

kolonel bunkerWhile briefly mentioning Kolonel Bunker in an article that surveys the contemporary state of Balkan cinema, Dina Iordanova (2007) writes, “the colonel eventually becomes victim of the system he serves, but his inner contradictions remain difficult to grasp because the very authority that generates the paranoia does not figure into the film.” Iordanova rightly addresses the absence of Hoxha in the film, which continues Kinostudio’s tradition of referring to the Albanian leader, but refraining from depicting him in feature films. In some ways, this tactic serves to further mythologize Hoxha, but Iordanova fails to acknowledge the presence of other authority figures that take his place. Çashku presents members of the Politburo in the scene in which Colonel Meta serves as a guinea pig for testing the strength of the bunkers. While these government officials lack character development, Çashku does develop the characters of the Dignitary and the Prosecutor. Although the Dignitary betrays Colonel Meta, he is initially framed as his friend and supporter. He even expresses his own frustration with the absurdity of removing ranks in the army, but Colonel demands that he stop talking about the subject. The Dignitary proves to be an individual also at odds with the system: in private conversations he condemns the actions of the government but then when speaking to the Prosecutor, he uses Colonel Meta’s word against him. Although the Prosecutor can be generally viewed as an evil character, fascinated with execution and torture, he is also shown speaking casually to the Colonel about his future separation with his wife. Finally, Colonel Meta himself is an example of the authority figure that generates the paranoia. Early in the film, he is shown in a helicopter, on a beach, and in a field giving orders to his army about where to construct the bunkers. He also gives a speech to the entire Albanian army that recalls the histories of military fortifications of Albania’s most famous national hero Skanderberg and the Ottoman leader Ali Pasha, and he mentions the more recent Maginot Line in France and the Siegfried Line in Germany. He tells his soldiers that the bunkerization program is a glorious mission and insists that no other nation will have covered the land like they will in Albania. This speech is a formal affair, as he projects from a podium and stands in front of a red poster that says “Glory to the PPSH.”

Instead of Iordanova’s approach, a criticism of Kolonel Bunker in terms of power dynamics should be directed at the end of the film when Nuro Meta (no longer a Colonel) confronts the realities of post-communist Albania. Interestingly, Çashku includes archival footage of the protests in the early 1990s, specifically the statue of Enver Hoxha toppling over, which supports his positioning of the film as a historical narrative. However, in the film narrative, Colonel Meta, after being released from prison and subsequently failing to contact his wife who was deported to Poland, wanders aimlessly through the streets of a coastal city and appears ill-suited for the consumerist culture that has appeared to already take hold in the country. While it is certainly reasonable that a former military officer who dedicated his life to serving the army would have difficulty adjusting to the swift changes that occurred in the early nineties, the film misses the opportunity to confront the fact that after Hoxha’s death and the dissolution of PPSH, many former political leaders continued to compete for control of the country. The dismantling of the ruling party certainly resulted in many changes, but the constant competition for political power did not fade.

Nonetheless, Kolonel Bunker plays an essential role in understanding how fictions of the state are constructed and disseminated within a society. Although Çashku engages directly with the overdetermined symbol of the bunker, his film repeatedly teases out more subtle representations of power. Unlike Besim in The Warm Hand, Çashku’s protagonist in Kolonel Bunker is a man deeply embedded within the Communist political system. Scenes of Colonel Meta at home highlight both his pride in wearing his uniform and his desire to meet the demands of the military. Nevertheless, he fails to meet the shifting expectations of Hoxha’s regime so he suffers emotional humiliation and physical torture. His home is destroyed, he loses all contact with his wife, and he is imprisoned in a government labor camp. Even after Hoxha’s death, subsequent student protests, and the fall of communism in Albania, Nuro Meta is a man who has lost everything. His desperate attempts to contact his wife never succeed, and he fails to find any sort of comfort or peace in the changed social and political environment that he now occupies. Çashku presents multiple reasons for his protagonist’s demise including the Colonel’s own belief in the political system. The Colonel’s complicity in this system is coupled with depictions of violence by military officers against supposed traitors to Hoxha’s cult and fellow military personnel thus suggesting an indiscriminate system of violence. Kolonel Bunker brings forward a larger system of power at work and thus supports Havel’s argument (1992: 143) that both the greengrocer and the prime minister “are unfree, each merely in a somewhat different way. The real accomplice in this involvement, therefore, is not another person, but the system itself.”


Notes

1] In comparison, in 2014, approximately four feature films were released in Albania.

2] For examples of Albanian documentaries featuring Enver Hoxha see The Albanian Delegation Visits Moscow (Qendrimi i delegacionit shqiptar ne Moske, 1947); Fatherland (Memedheu, 1958), Glorious 50th Anniversary (Pesedhjete vjetori i lavdishem,1963); Enver Hoxha Hello (Enver Hoxha Tungjatjeta, 1982). Films accessible via Arkivi Qendror Shteteror i Filmi http://aqshf.gov.al/; For representations of Tito in Yugoslavian film, see Cinema Komunisto (Mila Turajlic, 2010); Interestingly, in the 1982 documentary Enver Hoxha Tungjatjeta, which was made as Hoxha’s health was rapidly declining, the Albanian leader is not only portrayed by the various clips that have been edited together, but he also plays himself in a number of reenactment scenes when archival footage was not available.

3] For much of his adult life, Hoxha suffered from advanced stage diabetes. He also had a massive heart attack in October of 1973 that left him housebound for several months (Fevzui 2016).

4] Hoxha is referenced in posters and photographs that decorate some of government offices and military ceremonies in the film, but his voice and his figure do not appear anywhere else in the narrative.

5] The title “Prosecutor” refers to an official position within the Albanian Labor Party. These individuals wielded an incredible amount of power, as they determined the nature of accusations against individuals and then subsequently decided whether the individuals would have a judicial trial. Çashku’s 1983 film Dora e ngrohtë also includes the character of a prosecutor who charges the protagonist, Besim, with his crimes.

6] Iris Elezi in conversation with the author on March 6, 2015.

7] The Sigurimi reportedly filed thousands of records on Albanian citizens, but the government has yet to publically release these files. However, in 2015 there has been a major legislative effort to open the files and the Albanian government is currently in the process of selecting the committee who will oversee their release.

8] The public display of political slogans was equally important in Albania. In Gjergj Xhuvani’s 2001 film Slogans, a young Albanian teacher moves to a small town and must oversee his students as they painstakingly spell out political slogans on the hillsides of the town using large whitewashed rocks.


Works Cited
Fevzui, Blendi (2016). Enver Hoxha: The Iron Fist of Albania. London: I.B. Tauris.

Havel, Vaclav (1992). “Power of the Powerless”, in Wilson, P. (ed.). Open Letters: Selected Writings 1965-1990.New York: First Vintage Books Edition.

Hysi, Greta, and Ridvan Peshkopia, Skredi Zahaj (2014). “The Myth of Enver Hoxha in the Albanian Cinema of Socialist Realism: An Inquiry into the Psychoanalytical Features of the Myth.” Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 55.1: 66-82.

Iordanova, Dina (2007). “Whose is This Memory?: Hushed Narratives and Discerning Remembrance in Balkan Cinema,” Cineaste 32.3: 22-27.

Makiya, Kanan. (1989). Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Spivak, Gayatri C. (1988). “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography,” in Other Worlds: Essays in Cultural Politics. New York: Routledge.

Wedeen, Lisa (1999). Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Williams, Bruce (2013). “Two Degrees of Separation: Xhanfise Keko and the Albanian Children’s Film,” in Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 54.1: 40-58.

Williams, Bruce (2014). “The Distant Among Us: Kolonel Bunker (1998) in a Post-Colonial Context,” in L. Kristensen, E. Mazierska and E. Näripea, (eds), Postcolonial Approaches to Eastern European Cinema: Portraying Neighbours on-Screen. London, New York: I.B. Tauris.

Zickel, Raymond and Iwaskiw, Walter R. (eds) (1994). Albania: A Country Study. Isolation and Autarky. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.

Zickel, Raymond and Iwaskiw, Walter R. (eds) (1994) Albania: A Country Study.  Construction. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.

Zickel, J. and Iwaskiw, W.R. (eds) (1994) Albania: A Country Study. Directorate of the State. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.

Alison Reilly © 2016

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Updated: 18 Mar 16