Polyphonia: Albania's Forgotten Voices

Bjorn Reinhardt and Eckhard Pistrick

Two shepherds in the Albanian mountains, Arif, a Muslim, and Anastas, an orthodox Christian, have been friends for years in spite of religious barriers. Their profound friendship is constantly strengthened by the local music-making, a unique choral polyphony. In 2005, UNESCO proclaimed this vocal tradition a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The film sets up unforgettable images for severe poetry, harsh fates and almost magical power of human voice, which helps people in the mountains to master their surreal daily routine at a contradictory stage of post-socialist change. On another level, the film gives an example of how music – even in the Balkans’ complexity – can build bridges between people and religions.

A documentary film by Eckehard Pistrick and Bjorn Reinhardt. Eckehard Pistrick (b. 1980) is a German ethnomusicologist currently working in Halle and Paris. He conducted fieldworks in Cambodia, Bali, Greece and Albania and is the co-editor of Audiovisual Media and Identity Issues in Southeastern Europe, Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2011. Bjorn Reinhardt (b. 1963 in Germany) worked as a stage designer and documentarian before immigrating to Romania in 2002. For the last 10 years he has been making internationally appraised documentaries mainly in the Maramureș region, which is situated on the northeastern Carpathians, but also in Crete, Northern Greece, Albania, and elsewhere. Since 2007 he has also been working as a photographer.

Running time: 85 minutes. In Albanian with English subtitles.