Augustus Color and the Albanian National Film Archive in Tirana in Partnership for preservation of the Albanian film heritage

2024-03-07 00:00:00

Augustus Color, a leading Italian company in the field of audiovisual film restoration and digitisation, and the Albanian National Film Archive in Tirana, have launched a partnership aimed at preserving and enhancing Albania`s rich film heritage. The agreement, signed by Augustus Color CEO Augusto Pelliccia and Marinela Ndria, director of the Albanian National Film Archive, establishes a lasting collaboration aimed at digitising film works and training young Albanians in archiving and restoration. 

The partnership envisages, as a first important step, the restoration and digitisation of the film The Return of the Dead Army (Kthimi i ushtrisë së vdekur) by Dhimitër Anagnosti, identified by the Archive as a historical film of particular importance for Albanian cinema. The 1989 film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ismail Kadare, Albania`s most famous writer. Augustus Color is committed to using its resources and expertise to complete, over the next six months, the restoration and digitisation of this pilot film, a story centred on the return to Albania, at the end of World War II, to recover the remains of fallen soldiers, an Italian colonel and an Italian priest. Anagnosti`s film has the particularity of having two `twins`: Two other films were in fact made from the same Kadare novel, Il generale dell`armata morta, an Italian film from 1983, directed by the master of photography Luciano Tovoli in his only directing role, with Marcello Mastroianni and Michel Piccoli, and La vita e nient`altro, directed by the great French director Bertrand Tavernier, with Philippe Noiret and Sabine Azéma, which won the special jury prize at the 1989 EFA; Also in Albania, state television RTSH also produced a television version Gjenerali i ushtrisë së vdekur, dated 1975.

In its later stages, the project will not be limited to the digitisation of historical works of local cinema, but will also extend to an ambitious training programme for young Albanians wishing to specialise as archivists, restoration and post-production technicians. Augustus Color will co-ordinate the training programme, committing itself to transfer knowledge and skills through its highly specialised staff, as it did in previous years for a similar restoration project of the national and private archives of the Kingdom of Morocco. Once restored, the films will be presented at the most important film festivals dedicated to film restoration.

This partnership represents an important step forward in the preservation and valorisation of the Albanian film heritage, demonstrating the potential of international collaborations in the field of culture and art and renewing once again the great cinematographic and entrepreneurial bond that unites Italy and Albania. The partnership was born on the fringes of the Balkan Film Festival in Rome and the Balkan Film Market in Tirana, from the meeting between Ludovico Cantisani, executive director of the Rome festival and producer for Augustus Color, and Ilir Butka, producer, lecturer and director in charge of the Tirana Film Office, and developed rapidly thanks to the mutual availability and enthusiasm of the owner of Augustus Color and Marinela Ndria and Eriona Vyshka of the Tirana Film Archive.

As Augusto Pelliccia said in an interview for Albanian state TV aired shortly after the partnership agreement was signed, the aim of the project is `to share experiences and skills, to refine the training of the new technicians of the Albanian photochemical laboratory with the historical technicians of Augustus Color in a partnership aimed at preserving the Albanian film heritage. The drive to pursue this project is not only the motivation of an entrepreneur opening up to new markets, but with this operation we hope to give a new impulse to the cultural and professional contamination between Italy and the Balkans, which already has a long history behind it. Thinking more broadly, I hope that this first contact with historic Albanian cinema will also lead us to identify new authors and contemporary directors of Albanian cinema, and give them a post-house for the finalisation of projects. Augustus Colour has always been the home of young talent`.


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