How Much Did Tribeca Loves Laura Bispuri? $25,000 Much
The Nora Ephron Prize at the Tribeca Film Festival went to Sworn VIrgin director Laura Bispuri and the jury said, “We are awarding a film that is exquisite in its broadness and its intimacy, with a truly original story that touches on gender identity and oppression in a way that members of this jury have rarely seen before. The film constantly surprised us and made us question our own positions through a confident, passionate, and beautifully nuanced vision that showed a real respect for the audience.”
Laura Bispuri’s ‘Sworn Virgin’ (Vergine Giurata), was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and it is a lot of good things, but for me, it was like a favorite fairy tale. The heroine, Hana (Alba Rohrwacher), was lost in the woods for a while, but bread crumbs lead her out of the darkness and she found her way home.
Not exactly, but that’s how it feels. Hana’s life is dictated by the tradition of her northern Albanian homeland. There, women can’t hold a man’s job, smoke, drink, or carry firearms, UNLESS, they give up their femininity. For a variety of different reasons (and I am guessing homosexuality is one of them) women can renounce their gender, and live as men, but they must swear to remain virgins.
This practice is clearly disappearing, because even Albanians I have spoken to haven’t heard of it, but it’s an actual thing. In Sworn Virgin, Hana isn’t a lesbian; she just wants to drink and shoot guns. More than that, she wants the right to do those things just like the boys can.
Hana’s adopted sister Lila sees the writing on the wall early on and leaves, middle fingers blazing, when her father tells it’s time to marry and that he’s giving her husband a bullet in case he ever feels like shooting her.
Keeping in mind, I am one of the most open-minded you will ever meet, and keeping in mind, I am an ESL teacher that prides herself in respecting all cultures:
This is unacceptable bullshit, and even though the practice is, thank God, disappearing from Albania, the upshot is this: many of our religions and cultures do not respect women. Interestingly enough, even though this is a theme of the film, Laura does not cram it down our throats. She doesn’t preach. She doesn’t even judge.
She just tells the tale of Hana, who breaks her spell and sheds the chains that bind her.