Hundreds of thousands of bunkers mark Albania’s landscape. Like poisonous mushrooms, these traumatic structures made of concrete were symbols of the country’s past Soviet isolationism and communist paranoia. And they are everywhere to be found as a symbol of the strange co-existence of the past and the present times.
Germany, Albania | 2021 | 29 min
PRODUCTION: Luigjina Shkupa – HFF Munchen
SCREENPLAY: Luigjina Shkupa
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Teresa Renn
EDITING: Sophie Oldenbourg
MUSIC: Karim Shelby
From 1944 to 1990 Albania suffered from the dictatorship of Hoxha, which turned the country into an extremely isolationist, Stalinist, anti-revisionist and communist state. At that time, the communists built 750 000 bunkers which are still to be found nowadays everywhere: in cities, yards, cemeteries and playgrounds across the country. Some are ruins, some have been fairly creatively re-purposed by the Albanian citizens. They became locations for pizzerias, bars, museums and hostels, churches or tattoo studios. In Luigjina Shkupa film, however, they are also a symbol reflecting on what is left of the communist dictatorship.
Hundreds of thousands of bunkers scar Albania’s landscape. Like traumatic toadstools, the concrete symbols of Soviet isolationism and communist paranoia pop up everywhere, hiding in plain sight in cities and cemeteries, playgrounds and pastures. The past and present co-exist in physical and psychic space as the bunkers are forgotten as ruins, repurposed as churches and transformed into tattoo parlours. It is anti-historical nonsense to erase the past. Monuments are created to remember what was considered the good of a time. When times change, the same monuments change their meaning and show the borders or the Shame of the same era. If they are deleted, mistakes are forgotten and the possibility of repetition increases accordingly.
Festivals & Awards (selection)
Dokufest, Prizren 2021 | MakeDOX, 2021 | Hot Docs, Toronto 2022
Luigjina Shkupa was born in 1991 in Albania, but she grew up in Italy. She did her first studies between Italy and Belgium in “Informatics and multimedia science”. She has been studying since 2016 in the HFF Munich, in the documentary department.