Dear Albania DUntil about 25 years ago, Albania was an Eastern European country isolated from most of the world. After The Wall went down, people got a chance to see what the nation has to offer.

That included Eliza Dushku, whose Kickstarter-backed documentary Dear Albania finally had its premiere this past Monday at various PBS stations across the country. It took more than three years to get the project from funding to the screen, but fans who got a chance to see it would agree it was worth the wait.

As a backer of the film, I saw it a couple of weeks ago. It’s a good and surprising look at this little-known nation. People would be surprised it has fine beaches, a rich history and culture, and even a hip-hop artist or two.

Dushku admits she didn’t know much about her nation except that her grandparents emigrated to Boston more than 70 years ago. Thanks to encouragement from photographer Fadil Berisha, she leads a small delegation that includes Fadil, her brother Nate, then-boyfriend Rick Fox, and actor Blerim Destani. They travel all over the country, and even some cities in neighboring countries that have an Albanian influence.

It’s really interesting seeing Eliza try to track down other Dushkus in Albania, and learning more about her family. She even finds a Dushku playing soccer.

From there, it’s a fascinating travelogue of the nation, starting with the capital of Tirana, with an excellent beach and Dear Albania Bpublic square, to Kruja, where an important museum is located. She even has a spontaneous photo shoot at Vlora, which is part of a coastline that rivals the best in Europe. Berat is also interesting, because most of its buildings are more than a thousand years old and there is a cathedral with incredible artwork. She also visits Korce, where her family’s roots are located.  She says thousands of Albanians also live in neighboring countries, where their culture’s influence continues. Eliza even meets up with Tony Dovolani from Dancing With The Stars in Kosovo, who talks about how his homeland has changed since the Kosovo War ended in 1999.

The documentary shows how Albanian culture has affected opera, pop music and even hip-hop.

It’s a kick seeing Eliza and her friends make many discoveries about her family’s homeland and its people. Viewers can’t help but be surprised what Albania and it’s people really are.

Dear Albania has its own website, and will be shown over the next few days on the World Channel.

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