Noli Film Festival (NFF), a pioneering event celebrating Albanian cinema in the United States

The inaugural Noli Film Festival (NFF), a pioneering event celebrating Albanian cinema in the United States, will take place at St. George Albanian Orthodox Cathedral, 523 E. Broadway in South Boston, from May 31 to June 2. The festival producers are Erand Sojli/Sojli Art Production and Bujar Alimani/90 Production.

Showcasing an eclectic mix of Albanian films by talented Albanian filmmakers, the festival lineup includes eight feature films, seven shorts, five documentaries, and three animated films. The festival kicks off on May 31 at 5:30 PM with a reception in the Cathedral’s garden, followed by the premiere of a documentary on the life of Fan S. Noli. Noli, a preeminent figure in Albanian history, will be honored throughout the festival.

Over the course of the three-day event, attendees will engage with directors and actors who will share their unique insights into their work. Feature films will be screened on the second floor in the Athanas Auditorium (named for the family of Boston’s Anthony Athanas of Pier 4 fame, who was a world-renowned restauranteur). The Auditorium is professionally fitted by Boston Audio, offering an unparalleled cinematic experience, while documentaries and animations will be shown on the first floor.

This festival is the first Albanian film festival to be held in Massachusetts, a state with deep historical ties to the Albanian community. The state was the first home for many Albanian immigrants who arrived in the early 1900s. The NFF will highlight the creative talents of professionals filmmakers from Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia and the U.S. The organizers hope this festival will be the first of many, mirroring other significant Albanian firsts in Boston, including the first Albanian Orthodox Church, the oldest Albanian-American newspaper (Dielli/ The Sun), and the first Albanian American Bar Association.

The festival is named in honor of Archbishop Fan S. Noli, a towering figure in Albanian history. Noli founded the first Albanian Orthodox Church, served as the first democratically elected prime minister of Albania, and was a prolific poet and literary scholar who translated numerous works, from the New Testament to Shakespeare. He wrote the definitive biography of the Albanian national hero, Scanderbeg. He earned degrees from Harvard University, Boston University, and the New England Conservatory. Noli’s contributions to literature and the arts are universally celebrated among Albanians. The festival’s start date, May 31, commemorates the 118th anniversary of his arrival in the United States, while the conclusion on June 2 marks the anniversary of his poem “Jepni për Nënën” (“Give to Mother”), which rallied support for Albania’s independence after World War I.

Noli’s representation of Albania at the League of Nations, where he secured the country’s independence, is considered his greatest political achievement.

Admission to the festival’s screenings is free with required registration on the NFF website. The public is invited to experience Albanian culture through these films. Donations to support the Fan S.

Noli Library & Cultural Center and Albanians Fighting Cancer are welcome.

A closing Gala and Award Ceremony will be held at Alba on 53, Leo Keka’s Albanian-owned restaurant in Hanover, at 7PM Sunday, June 2. Tickets are $118 per person.

For more information and to register for screenings, visit the NFF website.