(photo source: Balkanist Magazine)
The other day at a filmmakers gathering I had the pleasure to chat with Kristian Salinas, the artistic director of Houston’s Q-Fest, a queer and LGBT film festival. I mentioned the topic of the Sworn Virgins to him and what a coincidence that an Italian-Albanian co-production shown on this year’s Berlinale picked it up (see my post here).
Three years ago, the gay pride parade in the city of Split, Croatia, was cancelled due to protests and threats from religious and nationalistic groups of society.
I vividly remember the support march some friends organised in Rijeka, where I was living at the moment. We met on a square above the city centre on one of these cool spring days, when the weather cannot decide on rain or shine. Maybe 70 people had gathered, but there was no glitter nor revealing costumes, as you see in abundance on the big Christopher Street Day parades elsewhere. After a short speech, the crowd descended on the city’s main pedestrian precinct. A little down the hill, there was riot police to protect the demonstrators. Continue reading
The grand dame of film festivals, the Berlinale, had always had good connections with South Eastern Europe and many films have premiered there. Just the other day I was talking about the phenomenon of Sworn Virgins in the mountains of Albania, where women vow to live as men and subsequently enjoy a man’s privileges. I knew there were some documentaries about them, and now the first feature film on that topics, Vergine giurata / Sworn Virgin hails from Albania and Italy! The only other candidate in the competition is a Romanian-Bulgarian history piece set in 1835 multiethnic Wallachia, where a father and son embark on a Western-esque man hunt. Whereas Aferim! is shot in black and white, De ce eu? / Why me?, shown in the Panorama section, paints an equally grim perspective on contemporary Romanian society: a young prosecutor is assigned to a case he cannot win. Flotel Europa, the only feature from the former Yugoslavia and patched together from home videos, depicts life of Serbian refugees in a hotel ship in Copenhagen. Croatia contributes a short film in the generation 14+ section: in Piknik / Picnic a box fight is needed to break the ice between estranged father and son.
Read more about the films after the jump.