"Daily Father" is the director's novel Gianni Amelio which, as was the case for his, many misunderstood, the film "Lamerica", is destined to provoke a debate in the Albanian world.
This time, however, it will no longer be the Italian Gianni Amelio who is called into question, but an Albanian Amelio, a man who, in those years of poverty and hunger, entered the Albanian world, so much so that he felt himself in all respects . It was misery, "and it is getting closer and closer to her, that - the author writes - without realizing I was becoming Albanian too", and we know, poverty makes everyone equal: this was the most successful solution also of the applied socialism, or make everyone equal in the face of poverty. But the author of the novel is to some extent Albanian also due to the fact that the story is filtered through the eyes of his adopted Albanian son, indeed, it is through that boy who often assumes the completeness of the story, not the family and personal one, but the one more wide in the country where it is set.
"Daily Father" it is a title that perhaps is the consequence of very different reasons, in the author's intentions, from the assonance - which I find - with "daily bread", but it is around "bread" that rotates the history of the novel, and which determines the same value and role of the "fathers". That bread that was missing daily in the houses of the Albanians, especially in the areas where it is set. And it is precisely this poverty, this lacking bread in its various nuances, whose absence generated opportunism and meanness of all kinds, but it is also humanity in a dignifying meaning "of salt bread and white heart", typically Albanian.
It is a novel, and does not claim to be anything else, and that is why, perhaps, this makes it the bearer of an even greater truth, of a narrative closer to the truths to be grasped. It is the narration of a Albania in the most difficult moments, one of those moments in which the Albanians could not be photographed, not because at the time they did not want to be photographed; on the contrary, Polaroid impressed them, that "seeing each other in a few seconds left them speechless and dumb-eyed" in a few seconds, but it is time that perhaps they would no longer like to see those photographs.
It is a Albania to be forgotten, to be recreated as far as possible from any form of realism, with the embellishments typical of today. Because the novel is crude in telling that Albania, and many may not like to see the word "Albanian" declined through those dynamics. But perhaps the truth is that it was also so, there was also that Albania and those Albanians, hungry and barefoot, poor and stubborn, ready for anything in a matter of "honor", but also willing to prostitute themselves as "pederast" (in many, and perhaps too repeated, situations are told like this), in exchange for a passage to cross the sea.
In a way, therefore, it is an important contribution to Albanian studies that want to analyze the imagery of those years, for Albanians interested in understanding history and post-regime society, a period marked by extreme poverty, certainly homologating on the one hand, but also due to class differences and status on the other, even where hunger reigned and equality should have triumphed instead. It is precisely in the metaphor of photography, that wonder of the Albanians of the time before the Polaroid, that the distance of that Albanian world from a West characterized by materialistic and consumerist progress is also grasped.
However, there are several Albanian worlds within the novel: the north and the south and their distance (more mythologized by the words of the Italians than true) and above all the vertical distance between Tirana and the north, or rather, against the people of the North, represented through the moral confrontation between the human misery of the bureaucrats of the capital and the material misery of the people in need of the people. In the book, among the various aspects shown, beyond the family dynamics and the human feelings of the author and the Zekaj family, what is most striking is precisely the question of "contempt" towards the "mountain" world by the people of Tirana, a problem that seems to have been artfully removed in Albania today, but which instead is even more topical since it has taken on new and much more refined ways of appearing.
An important theme of the novel is the similarity, sometimes nostalgic, of Albania, especially that of the North, with the Calabrian country of origin of the author, but with a time delay on the part of the first compared to the second of at least thirty years .
Always resemblance, but strange and no longer worthy of admiration, but rather of a contemptuous indifference, it is, according to the director, also that between Tirana, a place of truncated bureaucrats, built in a vacuum, a bit fascist and a bit Soviet, and minor Italian cities with a rather modest past such as fascist inventions like Sabaudia. Thus, what was the central theme of «Lamerica», the journey back in time, historical and personal, is here directly highlighted.
It is known, "the past is a foreign country", but sometimes it happens that a foreign country becomes its past and returns to put its hand to its voids and its shortcomings. And so, this journey backwards is above all the metaphor of the search for one's father, the one that was missing every day, finding him, in the end, wandering through Albania in those years (in the Italy of the past), in becoming "everyday father" of a son who is hoped to look like.
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