Sworn Virgin, the story of a girl forced to become a man, in competition at Berlin
by Vittoria Scarpa
- The only Italian film in competition at the Berlinale is the debut feature by Laura Bispuri, starring Alba Rohrwacher, winner of the Coppa Volpi at the last Venice Film Festival
A newcomer, Laura Bispuri, and one of the most international Italian faces, Alba Rorhwacher, will represent Italy in the Official Competition of the next Berlin Film Festival (5-15 February). The two are respectively director and star of Sworn Virgin [+see also:
Q&A: Laura Bispuri
film profile], the story of a young woman forced to give up her own femininity in order to feel free, an Italian-Swiss-German-Albanian co-production filmed between Albania and Bolzano.
The young Roman director, winner with her short films of a David di Donatello and a Silver Ribbon, makes her debut in feature films with a movie that’s freely based on the eponymous novel by Elvira Dones. The screenplay, written by Bispuri with Francesca Manieri, narrated by Hana, a girl that grows up in the Albanian mountains, where an archaic, sexist culture based on honour still reigns. This culture doesn’t give women any freedom; fathers, brothers and husbands have a real power of life and death over daughters, sisters and wives.
In order to escape her fate Hana (Alba Rohrwacher, winner of the Coppa Volpi at the last Venice Film Festival for her role in Hungry Hearts [+see also:
interview: Saverio Costanzo
film profile]) calls on the law of her land, the Kanun: she takes an oath to remain virgin, takes the name Marc and becomes a man, thus obtaining the same rights as males, but by doing so she renounces her femininity and any form of love at the same time. This denial will become her prison. But a living force is bustling beneath her new clothes and this will mark the beginning of a journey that has been put off for a long time.
“I’m really happy to be going to Berlin with my first feature film”, stated the director. “I struggled for a long time to make this movie, urged on by my great love for the character of Hana/Mark and by a feeling of responsibility towards the story that I chose to tell, a story that’s a metaphor for the link between women’s freedom and the world”.
Sworn Virgin is produced by Vivo Film and Colorado Film Production with Rai Cinema, Bord Cadre Films (Switzerland), Match Factory Productions (Germany), Era Film (Albania), in co-production with RSI Radiotelevisione Svizzera, with the support of Eurimages, MiBACT, BLS – South Tyrol, and developed with the support of the EU MEDIA Programme. The film will be released in theatres in March and distributed by Istituto Luce Cinecittà. International sales are entrusted to German The Match Factory.
For other Italian films screened at the 2015 Berlinale, click here.
(Translated from Italian)