Albania, despite all the historical and political difficulties encountered in the past and the great economic problems that still invest it today, is a country that strongly believes in culture and has a great desire to export it. Interview a Visar Zhiti
Many artists in all sectors that are recognized and appreciated outside their borders. In particular, as emphasized in the interview that follows Visar Zhiti, the Albanian artists have a strong suggestion and vocation of a Europeanistic style.
Visar Zhiti, writer and poet of international renown and victim in his country of political persecution (he was sentenced to thirteen years in prison and forced labor for opposing real socialism) is currently Minister of Culture of the Albanian Embassy in Rome. With him we have taken stock of the socio-cultural situation of this "little big" country.
What is the current climate among the people and artistic movements in Albania?
«Albania is a small country but has a great culture. Formally it is not in the European Union but symbolically its culture is part of it. In fact, there are many artists who are important not only for Albania but for the whole of the Old Continent. Many of our writers, for example, often write directly in Italian. Most of the more established painters, on the other hand, exhibit all over the world, including in your country. But there are also singers, filmmakers who have a vocation and an international resonance. All this represents a force and a direct testimony of the European spirit of our culture and our people ».
Regarding cinematography, are there concrete initiatives to support this industry?
"The production of films is still very scarce and mostly linked to foreign partners such as Germany, Italy and France. There is still so much difficulty and poverty. I have often repeated that in Albania the dictatorship has fallen but the dictatorship of poverty has remained. However, the current government is making a great effort to spiritually raise our people because, in my opinion, it is precisely culture that must start to look to the future with confidence ".
But concretely, in the political-economic field, how are we moving to stimulate the culture sector?
«There are ideas and projects, but often something is still lacking to implement them effectively. Artists, however, must try to get more out of themselves, from their own resources ".
Are there schools, state centers where to study and learn art?
«Yes, there are several: for music, painting and dance. There are also cultural associations and a league of writers that has a tradition from the time of the dictatorship that is looking for itself. We are in a phase of transition, our culture is trying to find itself again ».
Do you believe you are on the right path towards the revival of a strong cultural movement?
"It's still an ideal, embryonic phase. But we have to work hard because what has been done so far is too little ».
Your experience as a writer and poet from what has been influenced and what is your inspiration?
«I was always moved by the realities that I lived and touched personally. When I was in prison for political reasons, the themes of my works focused on that dictatorial experience.
Now that there is a new climate, I am interested in the fact that we are building freedom but we do not yet know it, because we are not yet completely free. Because to be free, in fact, we need more culture.
Under dictatorship, however, ignorance is fine. My characters, then, are linked to the places where my fellow citizens have gone and even Italy, in fact, is an ideal stage for my works ».
His is one of the oldest nations of Europe and as such will certainly have important folk traditions. Can you tell us about it?
"There are many festivals that are organized in historic cities such as Berat and Gjirokastra that are UNESCO heritage sites. Just today, for example, we found ourselves in Piazza Albania in Rome - where there is the statue of the Albanian national hero Giorgio Castriota Skanderbeg - to commemorate him.
He was also a European hero, he was called the "fearless defender of Western society" while Italian writers say he was a precursor of the European Union.
Here, often even these important names are an opportunity to celebrate and stay together ".
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