mercoledì 30 settembre 2015

Vergine Giurata

Last April in New York, at a friend’s place, I met the young Italian film-maker Laura Bispuri
Laura was in town presenting her first feature film, Vergine Giurata, at the Tribeca Film Festival (where the movie won the Nora Ephron Award). I couldn’t see it at that time because I was working but Laura promised me to let me know when the film would have been presented in France.
She kept her promise and a couple of weeks ago she invited me to the avant-première of Vierge Sous Serment, which is out today in Paris cinemas.

UGC Les Halles - Laura Bispuri and team from Vergine Giurata
Based upon the novel of Albanian writer Elvira Dones, the movie relates the story of Hana, an Albanian orphan girl who is adopted by a family already having a daughter of her age, Lila. Living in some remote mountains in the North of the country and wanting to escape to a life of housewife&motherhood in such a harsh environment, Hana decides to embrace the rules of the Kanun law: in the absence of sons, the daughter of a family can auto-proclame herself a man, renouncing to all female aspects of her life, including sex. This is how Hana becomes Mark. After many years of this life and after the death of her adopted father, Mark moves to Italy, where Lila lives together with her husband and daughter. The confrontation with this new country and Lila’s family destabilizes Mark’s profound certainties. Step by step, he re-discovers his real identity and a new way of being.
Lila (Flonja Kodheli) and Hana/Mark (Alba Rohrwacher)
This week in the blog I was complaining about Louis Garrel’s lack of courage for his first movie as director.
Well, this is a problem that Laura doesn’t have AT ALL: for her breakthrough on the big screen, she has opted for a very tough story, full of potential tricky issues that many famous film-makers would have been afraid to approach. I can’t say I know Laura well, but what it is clear, speaking to her even for few minutes, it’s how much she loves this story, how much she cares about it, how much she’s ready to do to defend her vision and her ideas. And this is so refreshing! And this is what I personally love in cinema and in people making a certain kind of cinema. 

Laura Bispuri
Gender is a very popular subject nowadays but it has been rarely treated with such a delicate and intimate approach as in this movie. The reasons why Hana becomes Mark are complicated and anchored to her difficult past, and her going back to her femininity is something so fragile and surprising, for her as well as for the audience, that it needed a form of austerity. This is why Bispuri’s mise-en-scène is particularly appropriate to tell this story. Her distance has nothing to do with coldness; her silent look has nothing to do with indifference. Her deep respect for the subject guides her in the most accomplished way, allowing her to avoid any form of sentimentalism or easy identification.
Hana/Mark (Alba Rohrwacher) and Bernhard (Lars Eidinger)
This amazing result is achieved, of course, also through the astonishing performance of Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher (for the role she has even learned the Albanese spoken only in those northern mountains!). She doesn’t show off at any time: she is simply inhabited by both man and woman, in the most measured and compelling way. And a special mention goes also to Flonja Kodheli as Lila and Lars Eidinger as Bernhard.
So, dear Parisian friends, if you want to see a very original and challenging first movie, made by a very talented Italian film-maker, get out, see the film and spread the word: let’s help good cinema to become popular. It's about time!

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