An eel will eat its own skin to survive. So what would a teenage girl — a similarly slippery force of nature — be willing to do for her freedom?
Director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović helms the coming-of-age story and 2021 Cannes Camera d’Or winner “Murina,” which opens in select theaters July 8, as distributed stateside by Kino Lorber. Executive-produced by Martin Scorsese and featuring cinematography by “The Lost Daughter” and “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” director of photography Hélène Louvart, the lush family drama is a captivating Croatian tale of mother-daughter jealousies, outdated patriarchal powers, and adolescent angst. Watch the trailer for the film, exclusively on IndieWire, below.
“Murina,” which translates to eel, takes place along Croatia’s Adriatic coast and hones in on 17-year-old diver and eel fisherwoman Julija (Gracija Filipović) as she grapples with her suffocating father Ante (Leon Lucev) and stifled mother Nela (Danica Curcic). When wealthy family friend Javier (Cliff Curtis) comes to town for a business investment, Julija sees a way out — no matter the costs.
Lead star Filipović first collaborated with director Kusijanovic on the 2015 short film “Into the Blue” when she was 13 years old. Kusijanovic co-wrote “Murina” with Frank Graziano specifically for Filipović.
“She was just in this age between adolescence and a child, and I really wanted to capture that,” Kusijanovic told IndieWire. “It was really a ticking clock to get that essence of that transition. She had the resilience of a new generation that was really inspiring because, coming from Croatia, we are really all under the influence of strong chauvinism. She had really strong resilience that she was not aware of.”
The film premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and Kusijanovic won the Caméra d’Or for best first feature. “Murina” went on to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival and Hamptons International Film Festival before debuting in New York at the Museum of the Moving Image’s First Look Festival.
As Kusijanovic said, “It’s very important that audiences, no matter who they are, no matter their age or sex, that they connect to the resilience that they had as young adults. I want them to leave the theater and say, I’ve been all of these characters in my life but I remember the strength and resilience I had and I love life.”