Review: ‘Anija. The Ship’

The flight of Albanians to Italy two decades ago is the subject of Rolando Sejko's "Anija. The Ship," a docu whose similarity to Daniele Vicari's recent "The Human Cargo" could limit its exposure, despite the films' different approaches.

The flight of Albanians to Italy two decades ago is the subject of Rolando Sejko’s “Anija. The Ship,” a docu whose similarity to Daniele Vicari’s recent “The Human Cargo” could limit its exposure, despite the films’ different approaches. It’s a shame, as Sejko’s less-concentrated vision makes the two valuable companion pieces, notwithstanding a chunk also covered in Vicari’s pic (and a shared talking head in the articulate Eva Karafili). “Anija” touches on the journey as well as life before and after, combining interviews with archival footage for a sense of the whole phenomenon. Euro TV is a likely home.

Unlike most docus about Albania, this one acknowledges that happy childhood memories exist even in Maoist societies. Still, by 1991, the country’s anarchic situation precipitated the start of a mass exodus via overcrowded ships often commandeered on the spot. Sejko covers a range of social classes while focusing on the success stories; more on rampant Italian anti-Albanian prejudice would have been instructive, especially for outsiders. Editing is solid, though Robert Bisha’s ballet-like music misguidedly makes disturbing newsreels of desperate refugees feel like elegant choreography rather than literally life-threatening leaps of faith.

Anija. The Ship

Italy

Production

An Istituto Luce Cinecitta production in collaboration with Propaganda. (International sales: Istituto Luce Cinecitta, Rome.) Produced by Maura Cosenza. Directed, written by Rolando Sejko.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, HD), Sabrina Varani; editor, Luca Onorati; music, Robert Bisha; sound, Gianluca Scarlata; assistant director, Nathalie Giacobino. Reviewed on DVD, Rome, Dec. 7, 2012. (In Turin Film Festival -- Italian Documentaries.) Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Majlinda Osmani, Arben Guxholli, Kozeta Guxholli, Chiara Guxholli, Eneida del Prete, Avni Delvina, Edlira Pagria Delvina, Qani Lumi, Eva Karafili, Ivo Calebotta, Ardian Elezi, Bashkim Leba, Agron Shehaj, Halim Milaqi, Cosimo d'Alo. (Italian, Albanian dialogue)

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