Sworn Virgin – Albania – 2016 – Drama. The story is based on still-living, centuries-old traditions in remote Albanian villages. A “sworn virgin” is a woman, or more often a girl, who, (out of necessity more often than choice), swears eternal chastity in exchange for life as a man. Although this drama may not reflect what my anthropological readings consider a typical outcome of that oath, it is nevertheless valuable as a rare attempt to portray a life most of us never imagined existed.
SWORN VIRGIN follows a young woman named Hana who lives in an Albanian village ruled by men, and she takes an oath of eternal virginity to live as a “sworn virgin” becoming Mark, so she can live free as a man. Years later, restless and feeling imprisoned by his choice, Mark leaves for Italy to visit his sister and family. There, he explores the unexpected pleasures of attraction and the body and decides to abandon Mark, rediscovering herself (himself) as Hana, to become a new and liberated person.
“Bispuri’s empathetic depiction of rural Albanian traditions explores the globally translatable significance of a woman’s right to her own body.” Patric Gamble, CineVue.
“Cutting between present, childhood, and recent past, Bispuri constructs a subtle, richly emotional collage.” Diana Clarke, Village Voice.
“Bispuri’s feature debut makes a powerful statement about the suffocation that can come with gender norms, and about the double-edged sword of gender performance.” Michael Snydel, The Film Stage.
“Bispuri and her co-writer Francesca Manieri emphasisze the real, using traditional Albanian ceremonies to give a strong sense of place, with cinematographer Vladan Radovic finding good contrast between the cool blues of the village and warmer cityscapes.” Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film.