The exodus of the Albanians to Italy in the early years 90 is an event that has left its mark irreversibly in Albanian history, but also in Italian history.
With the accomplishment of 20 years from those events, it seems that the time is ripe to rework the events and draw some conclusions. One of the most powerful means is certainly the big screen.
Two films were released in the 2012 that talk about the most significant episode of that period, the great exodus of the very first 90 years and the arrival of the ship "Vlora" at the port of Bari with almost 20 thousand people on board. On the one hand, "La Nave Dolce" by the Italian director Daniele Vicari and on the other Anija by the Albanian director Roland Sejko.
I accidentally saw both films in Albania, in a movie theater in Tirana, full of Albanian audiences, but also many Italians who live and work in Tirana.
It was instructive and very interesting, to see the reactions and comments of the public, both Italian and Albanian, before and after the screening of the films. So this wants to be a sort of sensory review of those who, like me, have experienced the migration experience first hand, without the technical and sectoral evaluations that abound in the many reviews that the two films have collected.
Many Italians remember the Vlora ship, due to theuse that Benetton lees for one of his social media ads in the early 90 years.
An overwhelming majority have removed the images, as is the case with all the things you see on TV insistently for a few days, and then nobody talks about it anymore. Many Albanians have almost removed the memory of that event, also because of the lack of self-awareness of the extent of the migration phenomenon, which has led one third of the population to live outside national borders.
The Sweet Ship
The film by Vicari, The sweet ship , recounts the arrival of the Albanians in the port of Bari through some stories, two of which are very popular in Albania today (Kledi Kadiu and Robert Budina).
The images flow well and the narration starts from the moment of embarkation in the ship, and the various characters tell their feelings and above all the human dimensions, unimaginable today, of the journey.
And after a few long minutes of stories, the director opens up to the audience in the auditorium, the image of the packed ship taken by the Guardia di Finanza helicopter, accompanied by a rock musical background that surely increases the effect of its proportions. The amazement, for the young people in the hall and for those who had never seen this scene, was assured.
The film is proposed from an Italian point of view and tells the facts, bringing out responsibilities and assessments on those who had to manage the emergency. The characters who tell their stories are now detached from those fateful days and tell from their point of view what they have experienced, sometimes reworking, perhaps unknowingly, more than due to the intrinsic motivations of the departure.
The film focuses on the Bari episode and attempts to bring out both the inadequacy of Italian central institutions and the poor management of the situation and the good will of the people.
Anija - The Ship
Il Sejko film it embraces a much longer time span. It starts with a description of Albania during the dark years of the Hoxha regime, which certainly helps to understand the reasons for that mass flight.
It touches the events of the Albanian refugees in the foreign embassies of Tirana, showing at the same time the reactions of mystification of the regime, enriched by unpublished and strong images recovered in the Albanian archives.
The mixture between the colored images of the arrival in Italy and the black and white of the Albanian authorities' filming are a metaphor for two worlds that meet and at times it seems that they clash with how strong the contrast is. Inevitably we also come to the description of the "ship" Vlora, the one that par excellence is the symbol of emigration started from Albania.
The characters, two of them in common with "The Sweet Ship ”, Retrace those long moments an eternity, telling the details, the sensations and above all the facts. The "accommodation" of the "Albanians" inside the Bari stadium is mainly told through images and Sejko highlights the treatment received by the refugees, with bottles of water and bags of food thrown from helicopters and thrown over the people, as if it were a mass Human.
Obviously the human side of the people of Bari comes out, and the story of one of the protagonists, adoptive daughter of a Bari family, is the most eloquent demonstration.
The film continues, tells pieces of Albanian history that to us today seem light years away, but that are very close. The flourishing of financial fraud, the illusion of easy enrichment, the general crack and the country on the brink of a civil war. The exodus starts again. Again "ships", this time less impressive than "Vlora ", But in large quantities, they reach Italy.
The climate is not that of the 1992. This time there is a naval blockade. The interminable moments here the ship of the Italian navy Sibilla spurs the Albanian fishing boat "Katër i Radës" causing the death of more than 80 people, they leave you appalled and make to understand also to those who do not know well the history of the Albanian emigration, the dramas of this phenomenon, the human lives that it has cost.
The film continues with the stories of some successful returns, some stories of people who have instead chosen Italy as their definitive homeland and some who work between the two shores, and in fact tells the true reality of Albanian immigration today and the many facets and complexity that it brings with it.
The breath that Sejko gives to the film is that of a choral story that starts from the "ship" but in reality tells the ships, the stories of those who have escaped, fled and in the end, despite everything if they come back they would do everything they have done at the time.
It is perceived that the story, accompanied by an excellent musical arrangement by Robert Bisha, comes from a person who tells the story after having lived it in first person, and this feeling of intimate story accompanies the whole film.
"Anija" and "La Nave Dolce", in the end, are two films that use two different angles, but that tell the same story: ours! "
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