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‘God has created both male and female, and both should be free.’
Part of a Balkan tradition that dates back centuries, burrnesha are women who take a vow of chastity. In doing so, they’re given the freedom to take on social roles, such as serving as head of a household and working in physical jobs outside of the home, and appearances, such as wearing pants and short hair, that are associated with masculinity in Balkan culture. However, as the short documentary Burrnesha explores, as Balkan countries such as Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro have modernised and women have gained more autonomy over the past several decades, the tradition has become nearly extinct, with only an estimated 12 burrnesha left in the world. Profiling three of these women living Albania, the Germany-based director Lukas Tielke’s film examines the combination of societal and personal forces that led them to their decision, as well as how the burrnesha tradition is ultimately a conservative one, based in traditional views of sex and gender.
Director: Lukas Tielke
Producers: Blerta Kelmendi, Sami Hilal
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