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Saturday, April 18, 2015

SWORN VIRGIN (VERGINE GIURATA)

A Tribeca Film Festiva 2015 Selection

By D.E,Levine

With transgender issues becoming more openly discussed and written about, this low key film offers an interesting view into the subject.

Only 87 minutes in length it's set in Albania, where transitioning from one gender to another is an accepted thing.  Alba Rohrwacher plays Hane, a rural woman who lives 14 years as Mark, a man in the hills of Albania.  After these 14 years she embarks on a tentative and uncertain path to reclaim her original identity as a woman

Albania has a tradition of burrnesha (sworn virgin), a Kanun code of social behavior, , a woman may forswear her female identity, live and pose as a man, and take a vow of lifelong chastity.  By doing this, the woman becomes exempt from the strictly servile role that the Kanun prescribes for all women.

After 30 years of living in a remote Northern Albanian village located in the Mountains of the Damned, Hane/Mark is haunted by the memory of her estranged sister Lila (Fionja Kodheli) who "escaped" to urban Italy for a 14 year traditional conventional heterosexual marriage.

Tentatively welcomed by Lila, her husband, and Jonida (Emily Ferratello), her teenage daughter, Hane, in a society with a relaxed gender protocol, pursues a reversal of her roles.  With flashbacks to their early oppressive years in their remote village, the audience gains an understanding of what drove each sister to her present "alternate" identity

The film is thought provoking and original in it's subject matter, definitely a thinking film for audience members.