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PRODUCTION / FUNDING North Macedonia / Kosovo / Montenegro / France

Dina Duma’s Sisterhood locks horns in KVIFF’s East of the West competition

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- The teenage drama explores the social media bullying phenomenon spreading amongst adolescents

Dina Duma’s Sisterhood locks horns in KVIFF’s East of the West competition
Sisterhood by Dina Duma

The feature debut Sisterhood [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Dina Duma, Antonia Belazelk…
film profile
]
by Macedonian director Dina Duma, set to premiere in official selection at the upcoming 55th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF), deals with the issue of online bullying among young people. When she first started developing the script (co-written by the film’s editor Martin Ivanov, known for his work on Secret Ingredient [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Blagoj Veselinov
interview: Gjorce Stavreski
film profile
]
), Duma, born in 1991 in Skopje, thought she might be exaggerating as she was secretly hoping that the peer violence she knew in her generation was now past. However, it turned out that the situation hadn’t evolved positively; it only moved over to social media. The prominent director therefore felt a greater sense of motivation to make such a film and open a discussion, turning the attention towards this young generation of women who are struggling. “We have to talk loud about ‘slut-shaming’ because it is happening, even more often than any parent could imagine,” states Duma who wants to build a bridge between the young generation and adults.

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The plot revolves around the friendship of two teenage girls that is threatened when they have to face the cruel consequences of their manipulative behaviour – the accidental murder of a classmate. Portraying a teen community for whom having an incrementing number of followers on social media is more important than cultivating genuine relationships, the film questions the formative environment of nowadays’ youngsters.

A joint work between Macedonian company List Production, represented by Marija Dimitrova, and co-produced by Added Value Films (Kosovo), Videa Production (Montenegro) and Arizona Productions (France), the team started casting very early on as the film was to be made using non-professional actors and the director wanted to meet literally every girl aged 15 to 18 in Skopje. Very soon, however, that casting process turned into a case study: “The girls were open to share their experiences and during the interviews, I realised that the reality was alarming. All of them could relate to my story since ‘slut- shaming’ was part of their daily life. Social media and how they present themselves online were the most important things for them. The common factor between their different experiences was that no adult addressed these problems, in school or at home. At this moment I realised how truly important it was to discuss this issue in a film.” Young Antonija Belazelkoska and Mia Giraud, appearing as the female protagonists, happened to be among Duma’s discoveries.

Sisterhood was presented at Connecting Cottbus in 2016 and later developed with the help of the Nipkow and LIM - less is more programme, in which Duma participated in 2017; she was also advised by the experts of the First Cut Lab Balkans in 2020. The financing bodies behind the production are the Macedonian Film Agency, the Kosovo Cinematography Center, and the Film Center of Montenegro. Its international sales are managed by Cercamon (United Arab Emirates).

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