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Sworn Virgin

Country: Italy | Switzerland | Germany | Albania | Kosovo | France, Language: Albanian | Italian, 90 mins

Original Title

Vergine Giurata
  • Director: Laura Bispuri
  • Writer: Elvira Dones; Laura Bispuri
  • Producer: Robert Budina; Marta Donzelli

CGiii Comment

You can't chose where you come from...but, you can choose who you become.

Sworn Virgin is a subdued yet fascinating window into another world...Albanian sworn virgins are a little-known [and rather rare] reality...born female - into a strict patriarchal society - they take a [traditional and irrevocable] vow of chastity allowing them to live and dress as men...escaping marriage and a life of servitude.

Laura Bispuri melds identities - both sexual and gender - seamlessly. Mark's backstory - of when he was Hanna - is woven into the fabrics of modernity and rediscovery. Mark - the man - is ready to face Hanna - the girl -'s all done with a respectful gentleness.

The idea of learning to become a woman is touched upon with a pragmatic sensitivity...Mark has lived an isolated life, Hanna will be faced with an information overload!

Thankfully, both director and Alba Rohrwacher show great restraint...the direction is more observational than narrative...and, the performance is like watching the ice-man melt.

Contentious as the subject may be - in these gender fluid times...this is the epitome of gender's gives a unique perspective on a much-discussed and maligned subject...and, the warmth it generates is...a great comfort.

A beautifully tailored film.


The(ir) Blurb...

Hana is growing up in an archaic alpine landscape in Albania where the old codes and traditional gender roles prevail. She escapes the fate of a wife and servant when, in accordance with the Kanun, the traditional Albanian law, she pledges herself to life-long virginity, thus sacrificing her femininity for perceived freedom. From now on, she is treated like a man. She is given a dagger and the name of Mark. But after ten years of seclusion, she decides to change her life and takes the train to Milan, where her sister lives with her family. She is not exactly expecting Hana ...

In her debut feature film, Laura Bispuri accompanies a young woman on a difficult and painful odyssey, away from the old-fashioned world of the mountains and into the modern life of the city. The film relays the story of a woman who rediscovers her sexuality and draws on allegoric images to allude to the ambivalences in Hana's emotional life. This empathic study makes do with little dialogue, instead relying on glances, gestures and a protagonist who faces up to her own inconsistencies.

Cast & Characters

Alba Rohrwacher as Hana / Mark
Emily Ferratello as Jonida
Lars Eidinger as Bernhard
Flonja Kodheli as Lila
Luan Jaha as Stjefen
Bruno Shllaku as Gjergj
Ilire Vinca Celaj as Katrina