Sworn Virgin

World Narrative Competition

North American Premiere

Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Kosovo, Albania | 88 MINUTES | Albanian, Italian | English subtitles


Drama, Female Director(s), Female Screenwriter(s)
As a young woman living within the confines of a Northern Albanian village, Hana longs to escape the shackles of womanhood, and live her life as a man. To do so she must evoke an old law of the Kanun and take an oath to eternally remain a virgin. Years later, as Mark, she leaves home for the first time and travels to Italy to stay with her sister, crossing over into a world unlike anything she has known before. There, she discovers herself again, leading her to contemplate the possibility of undoing the vow she made so long ago.

Director Laura Bispuri’s debut feature is an evocative and introspective film that brings light to the centuries-long Albanian tradition of the sworn virgin, or burrnesha. The practice allowed women to break out of their prescribed roles and avoid a life of domesticity by electing to take on another set of rigid gender roles. Bispuri delicately navigates Hana’s story, giving particular attention to mood, and lead actress Alba Rohrwacher delivers a nuanced and powerful performance as a woman whose gender isn’t as easily defined as the world expects it to be.

—Geoffrey Gilmore


Directed by Laura Bispuri

Laura Bispuri studied at La Sapienza University in Rome. Her shorts received awards at several festivals, and with Passing Time she won the David di Donatello Award (Italian Oscars). Her first feature film Sworn Virgin has been world premiered in competition at Berlinale in 2015.
Laura Bispuri
Francesca Manieri, Laura Bispuri
Marta Donzelli, Gregorio Paonessa, Maurizio Totti, Alessandro Usai, Dan Wechsler, Michael Weber, Viola Fügen, Sabina Kodra, Robert Budina
Carlotta Cristiani, Jacopo Quadri
Vladan Radovic
Executive Producer
James Velaise, Alessio Lazzareschi, Jamal Zeinal Zade
Alba Rohrwacher, Flonja Kodheli, Lars Eidinger, Luan Jaha, Bruno Shllaku, Ilire Celaj, Drenica Selimaj, Dajana Selimaj, Emily Ferratello


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Sergi Steegmann
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