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God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya

DirectorTeona Strugar Mitevska
ProducerLabina Mitevska – Sisters and Brother Mitevski; Entre Chien et Loup, Vertigo, Spiritus Movens Production, Deuxième Ligne Films, EZ Films
WriterElma Tataragic, Teona Strugar Mitevska
CastZorica Nusheva, Labina Mitevska, Simeon Moni Damevski, Suad Begovski, Stefan Vujisikj, Violeta Shapkovska
EditorMarie-Helene Dozo
CameraVirginie Saint Martin
SoundIngrid Simon
MusicOlivier Samouillan
CountryNorth Macedonia/Belgium/Slovenia/Croatia/France
SectionCurrent Relevant Cinema / Lux Film
ScreeningThursday 7 November | 17:00 hours | Filmhuis Den Haag | free entrance
Saturday 9 November | 19:00 hours | Filmhuis Den Haag

A thought-provoking satire, awarded at this year’s Berlinale, that questions patriarchy and gender equality in Macedonian society. The screening will be followed by Q&A with the actor Stefan Vujisikj.


Based on true events, the film takes place in Stip, a small town in North Macedonia, where every January a local Orthodox priest throws a wooden cross into the river and hundreds of men dive after it. Good fortune and prosperity are guaranteed to the man who retrieves it. This time, Petrunya dives into the water on a whim and manages to grab the cross before the others. Her competitors are furious – how dare a woman take part in their ritual? As hell breaks loose, Petrunya stands tall, challenging the church, judiciary and media. She won her cross and will not give it up. ‘’God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya’’ is among the three finalists for the European Parliament’s LUX Film Prize 2019.

Festivals & Awards (selection)

Berlinale, 2019 – Guild Film Award, Ecumenical Jury Prize | Dortmund Women’s Film Festival 2019 – Best Film | Dea Open Air Film Festival, Tirana 2019 – Best Film, Best Actress | Pula Film Festival, 2019 – Best Director | Eurasia International Film Festival, Kazakhstan – Best Screenplay | European Film Awards 2019 – LUX Film Prize nominee

Director’s statement

Every 19th of January for the holiday of Epiphany, the throwing of the cross event takes place in almost all the Orthodox world of Eastern Europe, including in North Macedonia. In 2014, a woman caught the cross in the town of Štip, in Eastern part of Macedonia. Her act was deemed as an outrage from the local population as well as the religious authorities. As a matter of fact, women are not allowed to participate in the event. Consequently, they tried to take the cross away from her, but she would not give in. Next day, she gave an interview to the local station encouraging more women to jump for the cross in the future. She was labelled by the population as a “crazy”, “disturbed”, “troubled” young woman. To me and my producer, Labina Mitevska, these reactions exposed a natural reflex of social conformism; they also revealed the misogyny that is supported by the deeply incrusted patriarchal norms within our society. It was frustrating and maddening. The story of Petrunya rose from this frustration, we had to react.