"To be taken to jail because you write a poem, to be imprisoned because of faith in the existence of God, to be imprisoned because of not thinking about human beings as a clay ball that one can give shape as desired through the state. But what makes people be so unreasonable? What leads them to believe that prison and mine is a place of education? What makes them hope that through hatred, one can produce goodness? "
Thus begins the documentary of the two professors and their students performed in what is left of the land of hell, the prison of Spac, a scary model of "education" during the dictatorship.
The professors were in a dilemma as to name it the Spac Republic or a Republic in Spac, a film or a documentary. They started from the prominent text of Plato, The Republic, which deals with the various philosophies that affect human life, society, state, economy, art and politics. From there they reached the title, and also screened the Allegory of the Myth of the Cave of Plato. It seems that the origin is Plato, whose basic ideas are explained through Spac and our history. It's a film that derives from philosophical and humanistic ideas that culminate with the conviction and death of Socrates. This is the tragedy of human stories ever centuries, killing of thought, dignity and freedom. That is one of the main reasons why inhuman creatures like "Spac" are made possible.
Julian Bejko, professor of social sciences in Tirana University, Ph.D.
Why should the students learn about Spac and what it represents?
Among other things, the students and the young generation, starting from a pragmatic approach, have to cope with the past to understand that part of their troubles and concerns are arising precisely from it. Their relation with the past is largely virtual and perfunctory. But a student of social sciences should start the first day of learning from this visit. Even more, every semester, they can have such visits to different places of that period. We wanted to make a visit, probably the first of a group of students-professors in these 25 years as much as we wanted to document Spac in its last days – there are rumors that it will be restored.
Why hasn’t it previously done at the university?
After graduation, masters and Ph.D. in Paris, in philosophy, and return to Albania to work as lecturers at the Faculty of Social Sciences (UT), nearly for ten years now, we started showing films and documentaries integrated into the framework of lectures and university programs. Combination of philosophy, sociology, political science with cinema and involving arts was a novelty for the faculty, which continued with the creation of a master's level course on the Albanian cinema during the dictatorial regime. Two volumes of books were published (Julian Bejko Society of Cinema I, II, 2012, 2013) which assist the student and the Albanian reader in gaining knowledge and reflections about the Albanian society of the XX century. In a word, we tried to start in the faculty some tradition as much profound as experimental of the social sciences with art, an experience that got us closer to the possibility of realizing this documentary.
They did not have any financial support to realize the documentary and used their salaries as lecturers and the students spend from their pocket to visit Spac. Screening this documentary is likely to be the largest gathering of students, teachers and other stakeholders, ever done in Albania on the topic of Spac and beyond. It's like a scientific conference without the monotony that characterizes it, or better to say an opera in 15 acts, a cinematic journey into something that is so close, so alive and so within us still today.
Dritan Karadaku, professor of philosophy in Tirana University, Ph.D.
You belong to a generation that has lived a little or not at all the time of the dictatorship. Why is this interest of yours to do something like that on Spac?
Perhaps precisely because we have lived a little in the time of dictatorship and nothing connects us not personally to Spac, it was important to do something. This is the history and the events of the country and our people. Interest in Spac is an interest to understand the society and ourselves, the period in which our parents and grandparents lived, old days that come closer as soon as you enter Spac. We wanted to understand more and overcome the barriers of thinking, break the ordinary speaking about something without ever being there, without knowing it.
How would the truth of Spac assist the collective memory of the young generation education?
The intergenerational education must begin from reflection on such events where Spac is the chimney of an even larger and heavy smokescreen. This was the opinion of the philosopher, Theodor Adorno after the horrendous and unprecedented events of World War II and the Shoah. But we as Albanians, should originally remember that Spac is there, that it exists, that it is an opened chapter, unwritten well or written with all kinds of calligraphies, whipped with overlapping meanings.
Memory is something very fragile, even more so when it comes to the memory of a nation and society. The truth of Spac is one of the nodes that must be understood, that requires time and a lot of reading methods before starting to solve it. It is a node interconnected with many other joints and it cannot be strictly the work or job of different specialists. We believe that the establishment of a polyphony of fundamental truths is needed, from which we can consolidate democracy and the society.
Among others, the documentary owns a valuable documentation and inventory value. In addition to video images, they have composed about 100 pictures each with their own significance. The documentary has energy of information, photographic evidence of Spac and the Spac of transition. Also, through philosophy and poetry, references on world personalities like Socrates, Plato, Naim Frasheri, Maya Angelou or Lincoln, they have strived to transmit their messages to the generations of young Albanians, who begin to care about their past and at the same time, build up their tastes and opinions starting from those personalities.
One of the messages is that of recovery, hope, strengthening of democratic principles, tolerance, education and rational optimism. Despite the suffering, pain and sadness that Spac and our country embody, their message is: "Still we rise!" This is the only way!