God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunia: Film Of The Year About Women's Independence

God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunia: Film Of The Year About Women's Independence
God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunia: Film Of The Year About Women's Independence

Video: God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunia: Film Of The Year About Women's Independence

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Video: \"God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya\" at 69 Berlinale 2019 2023, January

At the Moscow Film Festival showed one of the competitive films of the Berlinale - the Macedonian film "God exists, her name is Petrunia" about a young woman who violated the patriarchal order of a small town. Diving for the cross during the local January ritual of ablution, Petrunia took it first, but was crushed by the men and taken to the police station. Film critic Alisa Taezhnaya tells how the film of a female director from Macedonia works with the theme of women's independence in the realities of Eastern Europe.

ATTENTION: the text contains spoilers.

TEXT: Alisa Taezhnaya, author of the telegram channel "See once"


Petrunia's morning under the covers begins with her mom slipping her pancakes. She feeds her in the morning, and then casually criticizes her appearance and age. At thirty-two years old, Petrunia lives with her parents, received a diploma in history, but she never worked in her specialty, now she is unemployed. Mother Petrunia rather endures, her father supports, but stingy with kind words: in this apartment they are waiting for Petrunia to finally separate and begin an independent life. In the town of Stip with 45 thousand people, it is especially difficult for a young woman to do this. Petrunia's closest friend has been in a relationship with a married man for years: he has three children, but he still feeds the girl breakfast, promising that he will leave his wife, and even throws a penny into a small stall with clothes, which his girlfriend proudly calls a "boutique".

In an empty city, where you have to go through an empty icy pool through and through to get to the center, it is as if it is not accepted to like yourself - and it is this quality that seems to stir everyone up in Petrunia even before she catches the ill-fated cross in the icy water. Another unspoken rule of Stip: women are better off not sticking out. In the fitting room of a friend's shop, Petrunia will put a mannequin's mannequin's mannequin head on a woman's plastic body, and say that "she will be happier this way."

In an elegant dress on a frosty day, Petrunia will go for an interview at a sewing workshop: you can get a decent job only under patronage - Petrunia's luck depends on the name scribbled on a piece of paper. The head of the sewing workshop with a cell phone in a glass cube, surrounded by women at sewing machines, will finally confidently put his hand on Petrunia's thigh. Petrunia will not be at a loss and will move his hand higher - the potential boss will be dumbfounded and withdraw his hand. He will be enraged that the woman is not afraid of him, does not try to pretend that she is twenty-five, that she accepts her plus-size body with calmness and warmth and does not consider herself "defective."

According to the Orthodox tradition in Macedonia, in January it is customary to dive for a cross thrown by a priest; from a rusted bridge, the cross is thrown into a stormy, but shallow, cold river. Dozens of bloated men with naked torsos crumple in readiness: according to legend, the one who finds the cross in the water will be happy in the coming year. Suddenly upset after the "interview" Petrunia dives into cold water and grabs the cross in front of everyone. The cross will be taken away, they will call her a "whore", the police and a journalist from Skopje will arrive at the scene. Petrunia will spend the day at the police station without any accusations, and men in positions in every way will intimidate her with jail time or physical violence.


The chief confidently places a hand on Petrunia's thigh. Petrunia

will not be confused

and move his hand higher - the potential boss will be dumbfounded and withdraw his hand

The people's anger, which was let loose to intimidate Petrunia - meaningless and merciless - is rapidly spinning out of control, and the flock, which the policeman and the priest call among themselves a "herd", quickly come to lynching, calling them a "whore" is only the first link in the chain of abuse … The patriarchy with the privileges of permissiveness goes sideways to all initiators and supporters - the church and the police themselves are experiencing what game they have started, trying to teach the "presumptuous woman" a lesson.

Teona Strugar Mitevska is a director from Macedonia, who became the main favorite of the last Berlinale.Another striking director's name appeared on the Eastern European landscape - the female one. Funny to tears, bitter, honest and uncompromising "Petrunia" continues many of the themes already posed by other directors in Eastern Europe, who are puzzling over issues of identity, humanism and abuse of power. “4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days” by Romanian Christian Mungiu talked about the reproductive pressure on women during the abortion ban in Romania in the late 1980s. His "Graduation" dealt with the issues of sexual violence and corruption, where the interests of a young girl were faced with family pressure.

Christy Puyu in "Sieranevada" put four generations of his fellow citizens in one three-room apartment, so that they survive the death of the family patriarch in the eternal debates about the personal and political. The main character of "Requiem for Mrs. Y." - a woman with suicidal intentions - could not leave this life and finish worldly affairs because of the Balkan bureaucracy. A rocker with a crippled face became an outsider in his native suddenly believing village in the "Face" of the Polish woman Malgorzata Shumovskaya. And in Touchy, Adina Pintilie studied the boundaries of the body using three semi-documentary stories about the relationship of people to touch as an example. “God exists, her name is Petrunia” gently unites all the cross-cutting themes of Eastern European films over the past decade - this is a movie about the basic human right to dispose of himself and his body and live life according to his own mind without encroaching on his own dignity.

In the life of Petrunia there are many recognizable details from the life of small towns and traditional societies - from the Balkans and Russia to Central Asia and the Middle East. An “undeveloped” woman closer to thirty is supposed to hide her age and pretend to be younger in the hope of jumping on the departing train of marriage. The mother of the protagonist pursues her on the street, insistently offering to name the successful number twenty-five at the interview. What annoys others even more - Petrunia does not want to lose weight or make up for others, she is not very worried about the image and external signs of well-being, and most importantly - completely autonomously and in agreement with herself, she does not try to please others in order to survive.


This is a movie about the basic human right to control himself and his body and live life according to his own mind.

without encroachment

on your own dignity

The real reason for the depression is the lack of work: a good education and a red diploma in the Macedonian province is of no use to anyone. "What does it matter to me that you are a historian?" - a potential boss mocks Petrunia in a paternalistic manner. No one in the city of Stipe cares about the Chinese Revolution, which Petrunia was engaged in, or her qualifications and abilities. The best thing that can fall to her lot is "secretary" (as they say in Macedonian "secretary"), and this feminitive sounds condescending, recalling the once most popular profession for a woman. When the reporter comes to Petrunia's house to talk with her parents, the father and mother (an atheist and an ardent believer) in unison will ask only one thing - to find their daughter a good job.

Teona Mitevska carefully notices other details of provincial life: a drained pool, which is needed only a month a year, roads without sidewalks, another male Slavic face on an election poster and heterogeneous facades of low-rise residential buildings - some had enough for a satellite dish, and some - he has lived with a rusty balcony for decades. Macedonian speech, so often similar to Russian, completely merges in memory with the landscapes of native lands, resembling some well-known domestic Shtip.

Another central problem of Petrunia, which is easier to ignore than to discuss, is the corrupt merger of church and government. Arriving at the scene - the rivulet where Petrunia will catch the cross - the police will reinforce the priest behind his back. In turn - the police, then the churchmen - will explain to Petrunia that she has violated some unspoken rule.Formally, there is nothing to show a woman - and by cunning persuasion, manipulation, insults and outright rudeness, the church and the police, practically changing shifts, will crush Petrunia with potential articles. At some point, there will also appear an article that actually exists in Macedonia (as well as in Russia) on inciting religious and ethnic hatred. The law is that the tongue works in favor of the strong. "Am I now in the police or in the church?" - Petrunia will ask, and her opponents themselves do not know this. "You have nothing else to do?" "What, you have nothing to do?" Petrunia retorts.

“I'm a woman, not an idiot,” she replies to the monologues of influential men. Because of impotence, Petrunia will be called "a sheep in a wolf's skin" - a woman on male territory who decided to play by male rules. An attack on the street, a night interrogation by the police, humiliation from churchmen should tell her: do not go into our territory, do not pretend to be equal, do not think that you are in the same right as we are. It is especially interesting how the body of Petrunia (and the wonderful actress Zorika Nusheva) reacts to the stress that has befallen her: she remains free in small gestures, relaxed and confident in her gaze and posture. First, she puts her feet on the table, later she lies on it at all, sits with a straight back and interlocked fingers and does not move back. This freedom to control oneself and not try to seem attractive also repels Stip's men: Petrunia not only pretends to talk on equal terms, but also does not use loopholes that thousands of women prefer.

“If my daughter grows up and will be like you, I will break all her bones,” the investigator shouts at Petrunia. “I was lucky that my father always supported me,” Petrunia reveals the core of her self-esteem. She is a calm lump, nature itself, which fussy people for some reason decided to disturb - will remain as a symbol of unshakable confidence in their righteousness. "What would they do if God were a woman?" Petrunia asks into the air. She needed the cross she caught only out of principle, and not for good luck. The greatest success - the calm ability to be yourself - has already happened to Petrunia.

PHOTOS: Pyramidefilms


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