Conference Program

3rd IN THE PALACE ISFF Conference

Short Film in the Balkans and Eastern Europe: Archive, Memory and Trans-national Histories

4-5 July 2024

Pernik, Bulgaria


The conference seeks to understand how the meanings, histories and practices of the short film have contributed to reinforcing or challenging the categories, taxonomies, and conceptions which have shaped our knowledge of the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Thus, it aims to shift the perspective in a number of ways: by focusing on the short film (non-fiction, fiction and hybrid forms) resulting from social, cultural, economic practices, and technological advancements; by approaching their aesthetic, political and narrative specificities, their artistic and archival re-usage in contemporary times; by examining transnational connections, networks and exchanges of film-making practices; and, finally, by decentering our gaze on the short film within the context of Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

The histories and filmmaking practices outside the State-run feature film studios, especially short film forms, are little known and rarely seen. The conference will be primarily focused on hybrid and experimental works, newsreels and documentaries made by film-makers, artists, amateurs and film professionals within smaller State-funded studios, film clubs, film collectives and institutions. We seek to engage with the historicity of short formats by questioning the connections between short film practices, archives, and their dependence on political conjecture in the authoritarian regimes of the 20th century and the predominant socialist economies. Our goal is also to to explore the memories and limits of de-colonial politics in State-Socialism and beyond. What was the role of film in fostering direct and flexible trans-national connections between the countries of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the rest of the world? Could these connections be mapped out dynamically, and what form might they take at the beginning of the 21st century? Finally, the conference will approach the transition from the analogue to digital in relation to accessibility and memory, in exploring the politics of production and contemporary uses of short film archives from the perspectives of collective and cultural memory, transnational or national frameworks, whether through collectives, resistance movements, community, guerrilla filmmaking or DIY practices (such as the practice of archival appropriation, found footage re-usage or compilation films, etc.).  


IN THE PALACE International Short Film Festival

4-5 July 2024

Pernik, Bulgaria


Day 1 - Thursday 4th July

10:30 - 11:00

Opening remarks by Ana Grgic, Fabio Bego, Irina Tcherneva and Nezih Erdogan


11:00 - 12:30

Panel 1: (Post)Colonial Narratives and Imaginaries in Eastern European Cinema


(Re)discovering One's Homeland: Letters and Travel Diaries in Short "Essay" Films from Eastern Europe Antonis Lagarias
Transnational Perspectives and Decolonial Practices in Czechoslovak New Wave Cinema: The Anomalous case of Drahomíra Vihanová's Fuga na černých klávesách Nora Barathova Unzurrunzaga
Being liminal at the turn of the century: Buba, ethnographic films and the reshaping of the national archive Eleni Sideri

12:30 - 14:30



14:30 - 15:30

Panel 2: Women’s Film Heritage, Memories and Epistemologies in Underground Cinema


Feminist Publications and Independent Film Practices in 1970s-1980s Greece: Insights and Connections Across the Balkans Danai Anagnostou
Yugoslav (Trans)National Memory on Urban-rural Divide: Short amateur films by Vera Jocić Vesi Vuković

15:30 - 16:00

Coffee Break


16:00 - 17:30

Panel 3: Power, Discourse, Memory: Reading/Looking/Listening to Film Archives


(Short) Film Institutionalisation of Memory Peter Kardjilov
Lost in Limbo: The forgotten significance of Greek short films of the 1960s and the 1970s Marina Zigneli
(Re)sounding Greek Newsreel Footage: Music in short films from the Hellenic National AudioVisual Archive Nick Poulakis

17:30 - 18:30

Roundtable Discussion


Day 2 - Friday 5th July

10:30 - 12:00

Keynote Presentation

Precarious Archive. Short Film’s Socialist Ties and Post-Socialist Afterlives 

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Lucie Česálková


12:00 - 14:00



14:00 - 15:30

Panel 4: Short Film and Contemporary Feminist Practices


Establishing Cultural Memory: Miu Miu Women's Tales and Stane Eda Türkay
Lost Neighbours, Lost Nature: An ecofeminist analysis of the short film Gomşu (Neighbour) Merve Nur Özçelik and İlker Özçelik

15:30 - 16:00

Coffee Break


16:00 - 17:00

Panel 5: Visions of Post-Socialist Malaise, Capitalism and Social Justice


Homelands and Diasporas in Transition: The aesthetics of precarity in the work of Želimir Žilnik Stela Veta
Back to the Beginning: Lucid nightmares of the end of history in Armando Lulaj’s Towards Jonida Gashi

17:00 - 18:00

Closing Remarks





Keynote Presentation

Precarious Archive. Short Film’s Socialist Ties and Post-Socialist Afterlives 

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Lucie Česálková


Precarious Archive. Short Film’s Socialist Ties and Post-Socialist Afterlives 


In terms of it being a specific production and distribution format, short film holds a very uneasy position in the history of cinema and collective memory. It is often a position of tense opposition. Perhaps forgotten, yet persistent in compilation films, found footage remixes, then revived in digital archives and through social media, short film moves between marginalisation and omnipresence, ephemerality and eternity. Its specific position in the cinema histories of Eastern Europe and the Balkans can above all be seen through the burden of propagandistic reading on the one hand, and the illusion of its colonial innocence on the other. By pointing out the precarious position of State-Socialist short film in intertwined transnational histories and contested memory regimes, I would like to re-discover the short film unburdened by the weight of the post-Socialist political gaze.


Panel 1: (Post)Colonial Narratives and Imaginaries in Eastern European Cinema


(Re)discovering One's Homeland: Letters and travel diaries in short "Essay" Films from Eastern Europe


"In the 19th and early 20th century, Western travellers - army officers, diplomats, geographers- (re)discovered the lands of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, documenting their impressions in travel journals and literature. On his 1907 trip, for example, the “adventurer” Harry de Windt witnessed a “savage” Europe in “the wild and lawless countries between the Adriatic and the Black Sea”. Travel diaries also later appeared in film. Throughout the 20th century, cinema became a means of documenting journeys to a “foreign” land and ethnographic documentaries conveyed images of “unknown” societies to broad (and Western) cinema and television audiences. Experimental cinema inspired by anti-colonial thought also led to new cinematic forms depicting travels. In particular, “essay films” - often short or medium-length, e.g. Chris Marker’s Lettre de Sibérie (1957, 62') and Jean-Luc Godard’s Ici-et-alliers (1976, 53') - highlighted the tension between “objective” truth supposedly recorded by the camera and the filmmaker’s subjective choices that influence and manipulate the viewer’s understanding.


Decades later, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, the former Socialist republics entered - once again - into an uncertain state of transition. In order to understand post-Socialist life and politics, artists turned to cinema to provide personal accounts of a fluctuating political reality. This time, certain film-makers, such as Romanian Joanne Richardson who spent some years in the West, treated their native countries - or close neighbours - as “foreign” lands whose past and present need to be explored.


Drawing on Richardson’s Letters from Moldova (2009, 28’) and In Transit (2008, 30’), this contribution aims to a) discuss the form, aesthetics, intentions and political potential of such short “travelogue” and “essay” documentaries shot in Eastern Europe and b) relate these films to the growing scholarly interest for the global and transnational perspectives of "essay films" -e.g. Nguyễn Trinh Thi’s Letters from Panduranga (2015, 35’), which has led to a proliferation of publications and conferences, as well as the inauguration of the “Essay Film Festival” in London."


Keywords: essay film, travelogue documentary, East European studies, post-Socialism


Author: Antonis Lagarias


Transnational Perspectives and Decolonial Practices in Czechoslovak New Wave Cinema: The Anoumalous case of Drahomíra Vihanová's 'Fuga na černých klávesách'


"Drahomíra Vihanová's short film 'Fuga na černých klávesách' ('Fugue on the Black Keys') can be regarded as a thematical anomaly within the broader landscape of Czechoslovak New Wave cinema. Released in 1964 as her graduation project at Prague Film School (FAMU), the film diverges from the prevalent themes and styles of the movement, offering a unique exploration of transnational perspectives and decolonial practices within the context of 1960s Czechoslovakia.


Through a detailed analysis of Vihanová's unconventional narrative structure and her use of a multilingual voice-over, 'Fuga na černých klávesách' could potentially be situated within the context of third cinema and post-colonial histories in Eastern Europe. By delving into the film's portrayal of Fati, a young African piano student in Prague, the seminar seeks to elucidate a nuanced approach to representing intercultural encounters and resistance against colonial legacies.


The seminar further seeks to contribute to ongoing scholarly discourse by examining the implications of this cinematic anomaly for contemporary transnational and decolonial studies. By unravelling the complexities of the unique case of 'Fuga na černých klávesách', participants will gain insights into the ways in which cinema can challenge dominant narratives, foster transnational solidarities, and contribute to decolonial praxis. Some of the questions which arise are: How does the short film show the protagonist’s life? What implications does such a specific story have within its context?


Through a rigorous examination of the film's thematic and aesthetic elements, the seminar provides an opportunity for scholars and enthusiasts alike to engage with the complexities of Czechoslovak New Wave cinema and its enduring relevance in contemporary film studies and cultural discourse."


Keywords: Czechoslovak New Wave, Decolonial Cinema, Transnational Cinema


Author: Nora Barathova Unzurrunzaga


Being liminal at the turn of century: Buba, ethnographic films and the reshaping of the national archive


Nutsa Gogoberidze is considered the first female director in Georgia and one of the first of the former Soviet Union. Her life and work seemed to epitomise the ways different transnational movements such as early feminism and nationalism, socialism and avant-guard Russian arts, the colonial documentation of the ‘primitive’ and the birth of ethnographic collections and film, circulated at a global scale in the early 20th century.

My paper will examine Gogoberidze’s short documentary Buba  (ბუბა, 1930) in order to discuss how the retrieval of this film from the Russian State Archives has enriched Georgia’s post-independence national memory. The paper examines the questions of what discourses were involved? How does this short film address the junctions between ethnography and the complex, interlaced project of decolonisation of the former Tsarist subjects and their Soviet biopolitics? How does Gogoberidze’s aesthetics balance between ethnographic documentation, national culture and  Soviet propaganda? How does the multiple engagements of the film with memory, gender and representation politics today enhance its significance as archive of meaning and emotions?  Finally, how did  Buba in its short format, after its rediscovery, find its way into circulation in museums and festivals and turn as significant part of cultural memory of Georgia and the Gogoberidze family?


Keywords: ethnography, memory, gender


Author: Eleni Sideri


Panel 2: Women’s Film Heritage, Memories and Epistemologies in Underground Cinema


Feminist Publications and Independent Film Practices in 1970s-1980s Greece: Insights and Connections Across the Balkans


In my doctoral research, exploring the historical facets and examples of film collective and group formations in film, I examine archival materials, auto-theoretical texts, and publications on the practice and culture of cinema. Authors of these materials are filmmakers, and film workers. During the initial phase of my research, I encountered several Greek independent publications focusing on feminist inquiries, such as ""Skoupa"" (Broom, 1979-1982), ""Musidora"" (1984-1985), and ""Poli Gynaikon"" (Women's City, 1982-1985) among many others. These publications feature several texts on cinema, which range from critiques and manifestos to calls for action. While these publications initially appear to be influenced by Western perspectives, my paper aims to explore the intersections of feminist publications, discourse, and initiatives in independent filmmaking across Greece and other Balkan regions. Specifically, through this paper, I seek to identify discourse and dissemination practices of short and hybrid film formats within feminist circles during that era.


The literature review centres on examining independent publications which address film production and culture from the perspective of feminist groups primarily from Greece, which are engaged in archival research and reviewing relevant materials. Furthermore, the research explores whether these groups have taken a step further in organising independent and short film exhibitions and screenings. This study undertakes consultations with distributors and cultural institutions, such as the Greek Film Archive, Yugoslav Film Archives, and Arhiva Nationala de Filme.


Positioned at the intersection of production studies, histories of collectives, and the introduction of auto theory and independent publishing as a means for recording and reflecting alternative film production histories, the aim of my research is to bridge documentation gaps, foster cross-generational conversations about different approaches to film work, and ultimately preserve the histories of independent filmmaking.


Keywords: Feminist Publications, Independent Film Practices, Archival Research, Film Culture


Author: Danai Anagnostou


Yugoslav (Trans)National Memory on urban-rural divide: Short amateur films by Vera Jocić


Female directors were scarce in professional feature-length Yugoslav fictional film production. There was only handful of them throughout existance of cinema of SFRY (1947-1991). In contrast, amateur film clubs were more welcoming for women directors who seized the opportunity to make short films. Vera Jocić was one of them. Her short amateur documentaries include films Najbolji muž/The Best Husband (1968) and Devojke bez momaka/Girls Without Men (1963). I will closely analyse them, paying particular attention to gender aspect of these films, as well as to relationship between urban and rural which these film address. 

Jocić’s short films and films by other Yugoslav women film-makers are often saved from oblivion by the efforts of female curators, such as Ivana Momčilović, who organised “Experimentation of Anyone – Yugoslav and Post-Yugoslav Experimental Films”, at Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève. Here I was introduced to Jocić’s work, as well as to films by Divna Jovanović, Tatjana “Dunja” Ivanišević, and Erna Banovac. 

Films by Yugoslav women film-makers are part of Yugoslav (trans)national memory. A memory which was at stake after the break up of Yugoslavia. They are at risk of being forgotten or lost if not researched, screened, or digitized. This presentation aims to raise awareness of the importance of screening, curating, and digitizing films directed by Yugoslav women filmmakers.


Keywords: short amateur films, woman director, Yugoslavia, urban-rural divide, gender


Author: Vesi Vuković


Panel 3: Power, Discourse, Memory: Reading/Looking/Listening to Film Archives


(Short) Film Institutionalisation of Memory 


Of the nearly 400 short documentary films which Bulgaria produced between the two World Wars (1919-1939), the Bulgarian National Film Archive has preserved about 80. Most of them were produced for representational, educational and informational purposes by the Ministries of Education, of War and of Agriculture, as well as by the General Directorate of Public Health of the Ministry of the Interior and Public Health. One of the main processes which marked Bulgarian cinema during this period was its institutionalisation. This intensified especially after 1930, when the ""Sound Revolution"" in cinema reached Bulgaria. However, new technical and artistic medium not only complicated film production but made it more expensive. In certain cases it even made it impossible. It is for this reason that film-makers increasingly began to seek the help of the state to resolve some of their problems, and to secure funding for their projects.

For its part, the Bulgarian government became aware of the possibilities of cinema. Thus its policy in this area became more amenable and far-sighted. Certain state bodies even began to turn to film-makers for their assistance in implementing some of their initiatives. Part of film production (of newsreels, documentaries and popular science films) was even concentrated in some of the "key" institutions mentioned above. The paper will focus on the work of Ministries of War, of Agriculture, as well as of the General Directorate of Public Health, defining their  thematic and genre priorities, as well as their commissioning and control procedures. The aim is to reveal how the state institutions understood the mission of film, its potential to create a more favourable image of institutions and to contribute to the formation of national visual memory.


Keywords: documentary, popular science films, film commissioning institutions, Bulgarian interwar cinema


Author: Peter Kardjilov 


Lost in Limbo: The forgotten significance of Greek short films of the 1960s and the 1970s


"In the 1960s and the 1970s, Greece was not only characterized by a volatile political atmosphere, but also saw a great surge in the number of short films that broke away from traditional storytelling and hinted at changes to come. This is known today as ‘New Greek Cinema’. These films fearlessly examine Greek history and explore themes of identity, memory, and social transformation. They are more than just works of art; they are also powerful political statements that question established narratives and offer insightful perspectives on Greek society.


Central to this exploration was the experimentation with narrative and format, creating a sense of hybridity between fiction and documentary, in a manner that was both highly creative and politically charged. By blurring lines, filmmakers were able to construct narratives inviting  viewers to confront the complexities of the past and the challenges of the present.  However, despite their cultural significance, the collection of Greek short films of the ‘60s and the ‘70s remains largely unavailable to general audiences today, confined within the festival circuit and dependent on sporadic retrospectives at best. 


This paper will investigate the rich tapestry of Greek short films from the 1960s and 1970s which played a key role in bridging the gap between the conservatism of Old Greek Cinema and the imminent modernism of New Greek Cinema. By studying significant short films by directors like Takis Kanellopoulos, Roviros Manthoulis, and Tonia Marketaki, the paper will highlight how these films were crucial in shaping the Greek cinematic discourse, how this sense of hybridity serves as a poignant reflection of the fragmented Greek society of the time, and finally how current practices can underscore the significance of preserving these cinematic narratives. "


Keywords: Greek short films, Greek film history, hybridity


Author: Marina Zigneli


(Re)sounding Greek Newsreel Footage: Music in short films from the Hellenic National AudioVisual Archive


The proposed paper examines the presence and use of music within Greek newsreel footage from the Hellenic National AudioVisual Archive (H.N.A/V.A.). This is a public/state archive which offers a rich repository of historical media, capturing snapshots of Greek society and culture during specific time periods of history. A crucial component of this study involves scrutinizing music (and sound, as either a specific or a general audiovisual feature) embodied in Greek newsreel footage. The presentation explores in an analytical manner the position and role of music/sound in these short films, and the significance it holds in enhancing storytelling, engaging audiences, as well as in documenting aspects of modern Greek culture. Through the investigation of music and sound data both as accompaniment and content in domestic newsreel production during significant phases and milestones of Greek history in the 20th century, this paper aims to uncover insights into the cultural, societal, and archival dimensions of national audiovisual narratives. It also aims to highlight their interactions with parallel practices within the Balkan area and their impacts from either western or eastern official and informal standards, emphasizing the aesthetic, political, and historical media production techniques. Beyond the paradigm of safeguarding heritage, the paper is accompanied by an audiovisual essay based on the filmic material from the H.N.A/V.A. online repository. This will bring a fresh view to the subject in question. Approaching the specific audiovisual material through such state-of-the-art technology wll not only could convey nostalgic pictorial and aural memories but also provide valuable perspectives with a critical focus on managing cultural pasts, reflecting popular identities, and questioning the authoritative strategies of earlier Greek media.


Keywords: music; sound; short film; newsreel footage; Greece; Hellenic National AudioVisual Archive


Author: Nick Poulakis


Panel 4: Short Film and Contemporary Feminist Practices


Establishing Cultural Memory: Miu Miu Women's Tales and Stane


Women’s attitude to breaking away from the domestic sphere and her role as the bearer of meaning and establishing the meaning herself and re-creating the cultural memory can be interpreted as game-changing. This attitude has affected many areas and has also brought about a transformation in cinema narratives. Croatian cinema which can be characterised with  one-dimensional female characters stuck between war narratives and masculinity stories, is now a cinema where multi-dimensional female characters dominate the narratives. Sociologist Jasenka Kodrnja's iconic statement that "women in the cinema are either victims or cook pasta" has now been destroyed by the narratives in which women are visible in every field. In this study, the beginning of women's visibility, the effects of which can be seen in social memory and cinema narrative, will be examined through the Miu Miu Women's Fairy Tales Project and  Stane, a short film belonging to this project. The impact of this transformation on cultural memory will be interpreted. Stane (Antoneta A. Kusijanovic, 2023) is an example of minor feminist cinema which deals with concepts such as femininity, patriarchy, family integrity and betrayal through the female character of the same name, Stane. The phenomenon of discovering the existence, femininity and vanity of women in the 21st century, which is the focus of the Miu Miu Women's Tales Project, creates an archive where women's experiences are accumulated and re-establish the existing cultural memory. The transformation and reconstruction in question are the result of a deconstructionist attitude. In the study, Stane will be subjected to a deconstructive analysis, and the usage preferences of the cultural memory elements in the narrative of the film will be interpreted. How these preferences serve the destruction of the structure and the establishment of a new structure will be defined.


Keywords: Miu Miu Women's Fairy Tales Project, cultural memory, Stane


Author: Eda Türkay


Lost Neighbors, Lost Nature: An ecofeminist analysis of the short film Gomşu (Neighbor)


Gomşu (Neighbor), co-directed by Kamil Saldun and Sholeh Zahraei, offers a sharp portrayal of the aftermath of war. Set in Cyprus after the 1974 conflict, the women in the film, such as Elena, experience the worst of war including food insecurity, violence, abuse, and displacement, leading to trauma spilling from one generation to the next. In an interview, Sholeh Zahraei notes that the story in Gomşu was approached from a woman's perspective, thus giving the film a feminist stance. This paper argues that not only women but also the natural environment are disproportionately affected by war in the movie. We extend the feminist perspective of the film by adopting an ecofeminist lens, marking the first scholarly endeavour to explore it from such a viewpoint. Through an analysis of the interconnectedness of the mutual oppression of women and nature as demonstrated in the film, the paper argues that both the environment and women are most affected by war, accentuating the often-overlooked consequences of war. Considering ecofeminist principles, the act of leaving flowers at Elena’s door, a gesture of love and remembrance, highlights the deep connection between the environment and females, both of which are often disregarded and displaced in times of war as presented in the film. The loss of Elena, accounted as dead, symbolizes the terrible loss of lives as well as the collective intelligence, and entrenched social norms and the traditional caring responsibilities of women, such as caregivers and stewards of the environment. This paper analyses the film from an ecofeminist perspective, highlighting the interconnectedness of the oppression of women and nature. The paper establishes that the film goes beyond the feminist narrative and urges viewers to consider the far-reaching effects of war on women and the environment, emphasizing the urgent need for peace and reconciliation as propounded by ecofeminism.


Keywords: Gomşu, ecofeminism, women, nature, short film, feminism


Authors: Merve Nur Özçelik and  İlker Özçelik


Panel 5: Visions of Post-Socialist Malaise, Capitalism and Social Justice


Homelands and Diasporas in Transition: The aesthetics of precarity in the work of Želimir Žilnik


With the ongoing change in the socio-economic and political landscape of what is now the former Yugoslavia, there has been an increased interest in the study of precarity in Balkan cinema. Economic instability, ethnic conflict, and social marginalisation have profoundly influenced the cinematic landscape of the region. Precarity manifests itself not only in the socio-political realm but also in the emotional responses to the state of uncertainty and instability which it highlights. Addressing the under-explored aspect of precariousness in Yugoslavia, as well as the Balkan diasporic communities, this presentation undertakes a visual analysis of the work of Želimir Žilnik, whose docudramas reflect the challenges of navigating conflict, employment instability, and socio-economic uncertainty. Through a critical analysis of literature on aesthetics, diaspora studies, and precarity, this project aims to answer the question: How does the work of Žilnik illuminate the experience of precarity and displacement wihin Yugoslavia and its diaspora? The documentaries, political in their narrative focus, communicate the constant state of displacement, whether stemming from migratory patterns, domestic upheavals, or diasporic movements, as mirrored in the film's aesthetic elements. Highlighting the political and aesthetic elements of the films, I wish to locate precarity in the everyday life of the subject. Through a close audio-visual analysis of the films, I examine the cinematic apparatus through which they portray the precariousness of the subjects, marking their transitory and liminal nature. Moreover, I argue that the films act as an archival material, serving as a transitional space which highlights the spatio-temporal nature of the depicted experiences.


Keywords: aesthetics, archive, docudrama, Želimir Žilnik, migration


Author: Stela Veta


Back to the Beginning: Lucid Nightmares of the End of History in Armando Lulaj’s Towards


Armando Lulaj’s latest film, Towards (2023), marks both the culmination of his longstanding engagement with the archival remnants – in the form of objects, images, documents, and stories – of Albania’s socialist history, and also a departure from Albanian Trilogy: A Series of Devious Stratagems, a project in which the artist’s idiosyncratic approach towards his country’s recent past finds its most expansive presentation. 1

Loosely based on Arion Hysenbegas’ Drejt Epsilonit të Eridanit (Towards Epsilon Eridani, 1983), the first Albanian science fiction novel to be published during the state socialist period, Towards interweaves a poignant contemplation on the lost promise of socialist solidarity and brotherhood, with a damning condemnation of the neo-liberal present and its catastrophic horizon. Hence the juxtaposition within the film of footage of state visits to the People’s Republic of Albania by the likes of Nikita Khrushchev (in 1959) and Chou En Lai (in 1966), 2 with footage of the upheavals of 1997, which marked the first serious crisis of capitalism in Albania following the collapse of the communist regime in 1991–92. 3

The recuperation of the (socialist) past in order to critique the (neoliberal) present is hardly unusual for Lulaj, as evidenced in the aforementioned Albanian Trilogy. This operation or procedure is neither naïve nor nostalgic, however, and Towards is no exception. Drejt Epsilonit të Eridanit came out at a time when Albania was isolated from much of the Socialist camp, following its split first with the Soviet Union in 1960–61 and then China in 1978. The novel represents an attempt to search for this lost utopia of love and friendship in the vastness of the cosmos.

What is new about Lulaj’s approach in Towards is the artist’s decision to view the contemporary period as well through an archival lens. Thus, the footages from the State Socialist and post-Socialist periods are shown in exactly the same way – projected on a makeshift screen made of a large block of ice inside of a deserted movie theatre. This shift signals the foreclosure of the sort of utopian imaginaries that were (evidently) still possible in 1983. What is more important, it conceptually introduces a radical break with the present. In my paper I will examine how Towards deploys the archive as a means of deserting history, and how this can form the basis for a (new) politics of time.


Keywords: Armando Lulaj, Towards, archive, history, desertion


1 Marco Scotini, ed., Albanian Trilogy: A Series of Devious Stratagems, Berlin and New York:

Sternberg Press, 2015.

2 Of course, Albanian cinema was itself a product of transnational collaboration and exchange in the socialist world, as well as a means of propagating it. See: Elidor Mëhilli, “Globalized Socialism, Nationalized Time: Soviet Films, Albanian Subjects, and Chinese Audiences across the Sino-Soviet Split”, Slavic Review, Vol. 77, No. 3 (Fall 2018), pp. 611–637.

3 Smoki Musaraj, Tales from Albarado: Ponzi Logics of Accumulation in Postsocialist Albania, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2020.

 Author: Jonida Gashi