Finding a lost film of his mother the communist sets a young Albanian off on a fascinating confrontation with the past in the short documentary "Intervista."
By JOSHUA TANZER
A young Paris film student finds a forgotten reel of film among his family's possessions back
in Albania, and suddenly Anri Sala has more than a term project he has a key to buried history and emotions from the communist era.
The film shows Anri's mother, Valdet, basking in the ovation at the end of a communist youth convention alongside top party officials, and then giving a television interview afterwards. It has an element of mystery, though, because the sound is missing. What was his then-young mother saying during her moment of glory?|
She has little memory of the interview ("intervista"), and the interviewer doesn't remember this taping out of the thousands he performed. Former officials and the producer are vague as well. Sala has one last idea for clearing up the film's mystery he takes it to a school for the deaf and has his mother's lips read.
As it turns out, her interview is merely the routine party-line claptrap: "With the backing of the Marxist-Leninist Party . . . if the youth pools its efforts . . . it will achieve victory . . ." This is unsurprising to the interviewer, who has warned him: "In all my interviews, even the one with your mother, my questions were predictable. Just like all the answers." The lip-readers' explanation is, if anything, embarrassing to the mother, who keeps insisting, "It's gibberish! Not at all! Those aren't my words!"|
At just 25 minutes, "Intervista" doesn't probe the full depths of people's memories from the
communist era. But there's so much to see in people's expressions and reactions. Mrs. Sala,
especially, goes through stages of denial, argumentativeness, shame, rationalization, regret
and hope. It's a brief episode in the family's life but a fascinating one to watch, which
hints at more than just the 25 minutes on screen.
|MAY 18, 2000|
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