THE SWORN VIRGIN AND THE GIRL
Sixty years ago Bedrie was born as a girl in Albania. Today she lives as a man. She is a Sworn virgin. The tradition of Sworn virgins started 600 years ago: if there were no sons, one of the daughters had to live as a man, to maintain the family. Some women have chosen this path because they wanted to be free. Bedrie did not want to live as a woman, she could neither imagine marriage nor accept the restrictions associated with the life of a woman in Albania. That is why she decided to live as a man at a young age. Over the years, her appearance has changed so much, that she is almost unrecognizable as a woman. Adele (26) is a young woman from Tirana. She is searching for her identity as an Albanian woman. All her friends are married, but Adele wants to find her own way. She wants to meet Bedrie to learn about the life of a Sworn virgin and the reasons for Bedrie`s decision. Bedrie is proud of her life story which she likes to share. Both are getting on their way to meet each other. The film tells the journey of two people who come from very different worlds and yet have many things in common.
When we first met Bedrie, we were confused. We had an appointment for a Western style coffee right next to the gas station. Only the horse potions were missing. When we arrived there, a little man stood on the veranda, staring so suspiciously at us. Without exchanging, each of us thought: "What is this guy staring at us like that" and in this moment it occurred to us that this must be Bedrie. She came up to us and stretched out her hand towards us, polite but with a examining look. And although we knew that we were meeting a Sworn virgin who looks like a man, we were impressed, how little she could be recognized as a woman. We examined her to discover some evidence that she was still a woman biologically. The coffee was even bleaker from the inside than from the outside. Grey and brown were the prominent colors here. It was winter, cold, the men in the café smoked and drank raki, at eight in the morning. Bedrie sat opposite us, offered us cigarettes and ordered a coffee. When Bedrie got her coffee, her cell phone rang, she answered and couldn't open her sugar bag. She threw the bag to Kristine without looking at her and pointed her finger at her coffee. That should mean: Open the sugar bag for me and stir it into the coffee. Not only did she look like an Albanian man, no, she acted like one. The ice was broken.
Over time we were able to gain more and more of her trust, so that we built up a cordial relationship. Bedrie was always worried about our safety, she warned us not to shoot in certain places, especially in the mountainous region. Or she always inquired whether we had arrived well, even when we left for Germany.
We met Adele on our research trip over Burrnehsas. She, too, was so fascinated by this topic because she was at a crossroads in her life and wondered how she wanted to shape her life in the future. We were thrilled by the fact that she lived alone with her grandmother and mother. There was no man in the house, for us these were three Burrneshas, only that they lived their femininity. Even though Tirana has developed, the traditional understanding of roles is still quite deeply rooted. Three women in a house without a man is very unusual even in the modern, seeming Tirana. Adele was very excited to meet Bedrie in person. This meeting was a gift for both of us and so it was for us.
We shot the movie in winter and spring 2018.