In a Film Festival focus on gender that opened with Suffraggettes, Sworn Virgin by Italian director Laura Bispuri is for sure a movie that can’t pass unnoticed.
Bispuri‘s film (here our interview with her) tells about patriarchal Albanian tradition to ask whether renouncing sex can ever be the path to personal freedom.
The movie is based on tradition of the Albanian mountain people where the only way for a girl to obtain a man-s freedom is to permanently renounce her femininity and to swear never to have sex.
Hana (Alba Rohrwacher, in one of her best performance) has been adopted after the death of her parents, into a family that has no sons, only a daughter, Lily. Hana and Lily are inseparable until the day Lily run away with her secret boyfriend to Italy to escape a marriage chosen by her father.
Hana stays behind and she becomes Mark and assumes the eunuch-like life of an older member of the village called Pal who once also used to be a woman.
After the death of her adoptive parents, Hana/Mark leaves Albanian mountain and turns up on Lily‘s doorway in Italy because virginity is not forever, especially in a place so different from the one she left.
Bispuri uses the synchronized swimming as metaphor to make all the girls identical in this Hana‘s new world, but also as way to describe nudity in a new different way when she shows on screen different kind of bodies: young, old, thin, fat, tattooed,…
Alba Rohrwacher is incredible in her performance as Mark, speaking even the real Albanian dialect.
Based on Elvira Dones book, Sworn Virgin is a movie about women, but also about transitions that Laura Bispuri never makes with lipsticks or pretty-dresses but with just a slow thaw that is managed as much through a simple hint.
“Someone once told me we’re more free than we think”