European cinematography has always been extremely creative and full of unforgettable movies we like to go back to every now and then. Bergman, Fellini, Herzog, Almodovar and Truffaut are only some of the extraordinary artists whose movies we enjoy watching. And along with a few more countries, their homelands are the greatest when it comes to making movies.
But that doesn’t mean that other, smaller European countries lack movies that need to be mentioned and talked about. And even though Albanian isn’t among the ones we think about when we talk about movies, it is important to say that it was one of the greatest filmmaking names after the 1950s. And this list contains the 10 best Albanians movies of all time.
The Death of the Horse (1992)
The story of this movie is set in the 1980s during the Albanian sweeping purges. We follow a military regiment raising horses that get disbanded due to the fact that it might have been involved in a coup against dictator Enver Hoxha. There is only one man, Agron, who refuses to disband and liquidate the horses since they are also described as conspirators.
He offers to shoot a beloved stud, but instead takes him away and gives it to some gipsies in the country. He gets arrested and sentenced to fifteen years of prison and his trial and its aftermath start a chain reaction of tragedies.
The Forgotten Mountain (2018)
This strong drama tells the story of Rikard, a retired Albanian army colonel who becomes a victim of his own son’s fraud. Without his home, Rikard is relying on his daughter’s kindness and good heart. She and her husband offer him to live in a cabin in the “Accursed Mountains”.
Rikard, together with his daughter Ema and her husband Lorenci gets disoriented by the mountain air and travels deep into the mountains, to clear his head. This will bring only misfortune to Rikard and his family because there they will meet their neighbour, a strange man named Alban who will become weirdly interested in Ema and start manipulating the family.
The Unfinished Portrait (2019)
Arthur is a successful painter in Albania who is finally having his exhibition in Italy. His most famous and acclaimed painting is the portrait of a girl that shows the forbidden love in communist Albania. Entitled “Light of Love”, the painting reveals a love story of Artur and Klara who fought for their love many years ago,
Artur was a talented art student and Klara was the daughter of an Italian diplomat, which made their love impossible. Even though they tried to stay together, their affair was against the state and therefore taken care of. But when they meet after many years, they need to confront their history and the feelings they still have for each other.
Aga’s House (2019)
An interesting comedy drama narrated from the point of view of a nine year old boy who lives with five women. Aga lives with his mother and four other women in a remote village in the mountains of Kosovo. He wants to know who his father is and is constantly in search of him.
The only male figure in his life is Cera who takes care of him, but is very crude and harsh and this doesn’t make Aga’s questioning any simpler.
Aga is confused and doesn’t understand why he needs to live with all these women. One day when an emergency occurs and Aga needs to save a woman who is teaching him Serbian, a sequence of other events is going to be set in motion and the long awaited truth will be revealed.
This is a true story of an Albanian national hero, called George Kastrioti Scanderbeg who became one of the greatest warriors of the Ottoman Empire. The movie is based mostly upon what the monk Marin Barleti wrote. It starts with the event when George was taken as a hostage by the Ottoman Turks who trained him until he became one of the best.
George later returned to his home country and led the Albanian resistance for over 30 years. He converted from Islam to Christianity and managed to keep his homeland from being invaded by the greatest empire at the time. All Albanians from all over the world know this story and mention it proudly.
Tomka and His Friends (1977)
This is a drama about a boy named Tomka who is the leader of a group of boys who decide to fight against the Nazis who have set up a base on a field they play almost every day. The story is set in an Albanian village shortly after the Italian capitulation. Children decide to continue playing, only this time in front of the base, dreaming of claiming it as their own again.
With help from his friends and their parents, Tomka decides to organise sabotage actions against these soldiers. They believe that everyone, young and old, men and women have their place in a fight.
This movie is still on the list of the best Albanian comedies of all time. It is a story of a retired World War II officer in 1970s Albania who tries to adapt to all the new things that greeted him in his little village.
He is struggling with all these new regulations and cultural revolution which includes equal rights for men and women. This movie is an excellent depiction of the colourful and open minded youth and an old man whose views on the world and very much different than it is expected of him to be.
Red Poppies on Walls (1976)
It is the beginning of World War II and Tirana is occupied by the Italian fascist. We follow the autobiographical story of Petraq Qafzezi who lived in an orphanage in Albania’s capital. It is a movie about the harsh life these orphans live inside these cruel and cold walls.
They live in total oppression and manipulation but we are going to witness their uprising against the corrupt school system.
A Tale From the Past (1987)
This is a historic comedy movie that might contain some scenes and topics that might not be expected in a comedy. But nevertheless, it is an interesting view on an arranged marriage gone bad.
The fourteen year old Gjino and twenty year old Marigo need to get married to fulfil their parents’ wishes, Gjino reluctantly obeys to his parents’ wishes, but Maarigo, who is in love with another boy, tries various devious and dangerous and at times unpleasant methods to free herself from this weird marriage arrangement.,
Amsterdam Express (2014)
This drama tells the story of a young Albanian emigrant who finds himself in Amsterdam where he is seduced by this rich city on one hand and on the other threatened by the Albanian drug dealers and sex traffickers and his marriage to a Dutch girl. There is a reason for his escape to Amsterdam, his true love that awaits him in their poor country.
Bekim is 30 and will do anything to earn money, but an event changes all his plans and he returns to his country empty handed. He saved a young girl from the destiny of becoming an object behind glass in the Red light district.