In the process of moving house with his family, Anri Sala, an Albanian art student, discovered a twenty-year-old 16mm newsreel film, containing images of a congress of the Albanian Communist Party. In the film a young woman, a leader of the Communist Youth Alliance, is seen making a speech, and later giving an interview. But Sala could not make out what she was saying, because the sound had been lost.
With the passing of years this woman had left behind the hopes and fears, ideals and disappointments, deceptions and rebellions of her youth. She was his mother, Valdet.
Intent on learning the contents of the speech and interview, which Valdet cannot remember, Sala visits old party leaders (later imprisoned by Enver Hoxha) in the hope that they might remember. But they are old now, and the specifics of the speech elude them. He visits the film studio, and meets with the sound recordist of the newsreel (who now drives a taxi in Tirana), but Sala cannot find any of the original sound, or anyone who remembers what his mother actually said.
So Sala takes the film to a school for the deaf in Tirana, and with the help of lip readers, his mother's words are deciphered.
INTERVISTA dramatically captures the moment when Sala shows his mother a video of the film again. This time, with her words recovered and subtitled on the screen, she confronts her younger self. Her Communist ideals and the current chaos in Albania collide, offering a moving opportunity for reflection on the country's—and one woman's—history and present state.
"Compelling.... Sala's documentary work is at once achingly sensitive, unflinchingly brutal, and psychologically loaded." —Artforum
Best Documentary, 2000 Williamsburg Film Festival (New York)
Best Documentary, 1998 Belfort Film Festival (France)
Best Short Film, 1998 Amascultura Film Festival (Portugal)
Grand Prize, 1999 Estavar Festival (France)
North American Premiere, 1999 Vancouver Film Festival