Cultural traditions, gender dynamics, and sexuality intersect in fascinating ways in Laura Bispuri‘s “Sworn Virgin.” It’s a film we saw on the festival circuit last year, and while it didn’t make much of a wave, it’s worth seeking this “tiny, understated and very authentic” film out.
Starring Alba Rohrwacher (“Hungry Hearts“), the story is set in rural Albania, where tradition requires that women, who already have few rights, unquestioningly submit to their men. However, a woman can escape this fate if she becomes a “burrnesh,” but it requires becoming celibate, in addition to taking a man’s name, and dressing as a man as well. Here’s the official synopsis:
SWORN VIRGIN follows a young woman named Hana who lives in an Albanian village ruled by men. She takes an oath of eternal virginity to live as a “sworn virgin,” becoming Mark so she can live free as a man. Years later, restless and feeling imprisoned by his choice, Mark leaves for Italy to visit his sister and family. There, he explores the unexpected pleasures of attraction and the body and decides to abandon Mark, rediscovering herself (himself) as Hana to become a new and liberated person.
“Sworn Virgin” opens on April 22nd.