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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Vergine giurata" or "Vierge sous serment")


directed by Laura Bispuri
Italy/Switzerland/Germany/Albania/Kosovo/France 2015


Traveling from the harsh, snow-capped environs of Ragam, Albania to Milan, Italy to visit his cousin and childhood friend Lila (Flonja Kodheli, BEYOND THE WALLS) - now married with husband Stjefen (Luan Jaha, THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD) and daughter Jonida (Emily Ferratello) - Mark (Alba Rohrwacher, GARIBALDI'S LOVERS) discovers that his decision to live as a woman in Milan presents an entirely different set of challenges than living as a man in Ragam. Orphaned and taken in by her uncle Artem (Bruno Shllaku, THE ALBANIAN), Hana got up to the usual mischief with cousin Lila but started to push back defiantly against the rigid gender roles (and rules) as drilled into the two of them verbally by Lila's mother and physically by Artem. Artem gradually relented and started teaching Hana how to shoot and hunt, but did not defend her against the abuse and threats of sexual violation by the village's young men. When Lila starts menstruating and Artem arranges her marriage (including a bullet as part of her dowry for her husband to use on her should he have any complaints), his daughter runs away with her lover. For Hana to remain and not become a wife and servant to her husband, she becomes a "sworn virgin", living as a man and swearing away love while also becoming Artem's son Mark. With much idle time working as a car park attendant and attracted to Jonida's swimming coach (Lars Eidinger, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA), Mark/Hana ponders breaking her vow even if that means betraying Artem's memory.

Told in a fragmented style intercutting Mark's experiences in Milan and tense relationship with Lila with their upbringing in Albania, SWORN VIRGIN - based on the novel by Albanian novelist and documentarian Elvira Dones - is an understated yet moving story of a sort of delayed coming of age. The more traditional-seeming married Lila seems unsympathetic when first seen interacting with Mark but flashbacks reveal her inability and unwillingness to adapt to the cage that is their home. Fish out of water Mark is revealed to be independently-minded, proud, and seems from the film's perspective to be the only one who reacts to examples of inequality and such sights as a wedding procession in which the bride has her face covered so that she cannot see the road if she tries to run away. Desiring the relatively safety and certainty of village life, she grows as rigid as Artem who seems to treat her with minutely more warmth than his own daughter. Rather than excoriating the social and cultural conditions that require a woman who does not want to marry to live as a man, the film etches its principal characters with depth and complexity that suggests the ways in which they work within the confines of their cultural beliefs to what they think is best for their loved ones (even if these choices do have unintended effects).

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 19 March 2015 (Italy)

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DVD Review: Strand Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Strand Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:27:54

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.43 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Albanian/Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Strand Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
� Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:37)
� Previews

DVD Release Date: July 12th, 2016

Chapters 8





With its maxxed-out bitrate and minimal extras, Strand Releasing's dual-layer DVD presents a strong standard definition progressive, anamorphic encode of this deliberately drab-looking production with its snowy Albanian settings and florescent- and sodium-vapor-lit Milan settings. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is front-oriented with stronger use of the surrounds in later sequences. Optional English subtitles are free of errors. The only extras are a trailer for the film and previews for four other Strand titles.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Region 1 - NTSC


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