“They’re teaching me about life, as if they know how to live.”
Kosovo has submitted Looking For Venera as their International Feature submission for this year. Set in a rural town in Kosovo, the film focuses on a young teenage girl, Venera, as she begins to explore her rebellious side against a very strict household.
Venera lives with her parents, her two brothers, and her grandmother. Her father is extremely authoritarian, set on tradition and conservatism. She spends most of her days studying English, doing chores, and hanging around the house. When she sees a girl, Dorina, having sex in the woods, she begins an immediate friendship with her. Dorina shows Venera a liberating and exciting new world.
Venera slowly begins to explore her defiant side, along with her new best friend. They have to be careful not to “sully” their name, but despite that risk they begin to go drinking at a local pub. They skip school. Venera even starts a relationship with a much older man.
For the first time in her life Venera feels alive.
Director Norika Sefa has created a suffocating, claustrophobic film. Every shot feels enclosed. She’s able to portray the mundane, repetitive lives that most people in this town experience on a daily basis. The performances are subtly captivating stewing with repressed anger, fear and curiosity. It’s incredible that this is her first feature film as a director.
The downfall for Venera is that despite the world opening up for her during these moments of rebellion, she knows that her world will not allow herself to live the life she wants to live. The conservatism, the way that women are oppressed in her rural village, the way that her father controls every aspect of her life are only the start of her closed-off world. It’s a bleak reality that Venera must accept. Both Dorina and Venera want to carry on with their adventures, to be found, to discover themselves. But for now, until they find a way to escape their reality, Venera will continue to feel restrained as a person, and especially as a woman.