Between love and exile: Albanian filmmaker captures nation’s struggles

TIRANA -  With short films centred on poverty, migration and love, Erenik Beqiri has helped draw the global spotlight to Albania’s film industry by telling stories at the heart of the country’s social and economic fault lines. “It’s not every day you get the chance to make a film,” the director told AFP. “When you do, you have to convey something that has a profound effect on your life and the lives of others. Migration is one of them.” Although Beqiri lives in Albania, exile remains ever present in his life. “There are, of course, emotions and feelings that are very much my own. Everything that I have felt but also observed all around me -- from the daily lives of my friends, my family, the people I live among.” Since the fall of its brutal communist government, Albania has been radically transformed by migration. According to official figures, at least 1.68 million Albanians, or 37 percent of the population, left the country between 1990 and 2020. The huge outflow has left swaths of the countryside abandoned, while billions of euros in remittances sparked a property boom that has seen cranes fill its cities, and apartment blocks crowd the once-pristine coastlines. The phenomenon is now a cornerstone of life for many Albanians, whether they are business owners, overseas workers, or a filmmaker.

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