The roaring three sisters: The directorial debut of Luana Bajrami is inspired by Céline Sciamma and Anton Chekhov


    Kosovan-French actress Luana Bajrami, known for her role in Portrait of a Lady on Fire by Céline Sciamma (Best screenplay and Queer Palm in Cannes 2019) turns to directing with The Hill Where Lionesses Roar, a coming-of-age drama obviously inspired by her collaboration with Sciamma and her interest in the female gaze, which is mixed with autobiographical touches and some Chekhovian motifs.

    20-year-old Bajrami focuses on girls around her age, played by first- and second-time actresses. Qe (Flaka Latifi), Li (Era Balaj) and Jeta (Urate Shabani) are not three sisters, like the heroines from one of Chekhov’s plays, but they are best friends. These inseparable girls confront the patriarchal order in a small town in Kosovo. Together they are strong. But local authority is in the hands of men. Like Chekhov's three sisters Qe, Li and Jeta want to leave and dream of  a better life. But what if another life turns out to be just the same?

    The world depicted in the film is the combined creation of the director together with the actresses and cinematographer Hugo Paturel, also making his feature debut. It is a place for amazing friendship, free young life and of course love. And this world, as it were, is fenced off from the violence of dangerous men and adults who have already come to terms with their lives. The main heroines want to get out of this trap like Gervaise from L'Assommoir by Émile Zola – a book that shows up in the hands of one of the characters. And for this they are ready for anything, including crimes. Run Sisters Run. You are the roaring twenties “lionesses”! But they seem to constantly look back.

    Bajrami’s coming of age drama fits perfectly in the contemporary trend of female power cinema; stylistically it inherits the sensuality of Sciamma, even if the plot partially echoes that of Mustang, by French-Turkish director Deniz Gamze Ergüven (the winner of Directors Fortnight in Cannes six years ago, the same section in which The Hill Where Lionesses Roar premiered this year). Philosophically it references Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, which received Oscars for best film and best director. In the final part of Bajrami's debut her heroines ask themselves “Our home… What is it?”

    The young director wants to touch on exciting topics, show all her sources of inspiration and demonstrate the ability to work in different genres. The potential is huge, but no living ‘man’ all things can. The roar of this lioness breaks off in the most interesting place. We’ll see if it will resume for the director’s second feature.

    Last modified on 15-10-2021