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Elton Gllava

Albanian Cinema Paradiso


The Albanian cinema of the 1950-1990s has played a significant role in forming the collective historical memory of those who watched it. Gllava’s film shines a light on the heritage, hidden meanings and visual beauty of the Albanian cinema of the 1950-1990s, this mysterious and largely unknown subject from Albania’s Communist regime, one of the most securely closed-off regimes in Eastern Europe, comparable only to today’s North Korea.

What we are looking at is the dreams and hopes of the Albanians through films from that era in the context of the significant influence from the Soviet propaganda machine and the classic tradition of the European and especially Italian and French cinema.

Elton Gllava (Albania, 1974) is a photographer and filmmaker based in Rome. When the communist regime collapsed and the borders opened in 1991 he seized the opportunity to experience another world and like thousands of Albanians made the crossing to Italy. In 2007 he took on photography and graduated from the Scuola Romana di Fotografia e Cinema in 2009.

His photography and film projects explore social and environmental issues in Italy and his native Albania through a personal documentary approach. Gllava’s most recent project Bulqizë, focusing on a small mining town in North-East Albania, was published as a book in 2019.

Produced in collaboration with AQSHF (National Archive of Albanian Cinema)