The LUX Prize, or to call it by its full name the European Audience Film Award by the European Parliament and the European Film Academy, is awarded each year to a film which raises awareness of socio-political issues in Europe. Past winners have included Ida, Woman at War, Mustang and The Snows of Kilimanjaro. In 2019, the intelligent and clever Macedonian drama God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya was triumphant.
Petrunya (Zorica Nusheva) is a historian, which doesn’t exactly open up the job market for her in the small Macedonian town she lives in with her parents. Her lack of employment (and marriage) drives her mother to despair. Every January during the Epiphany, the throwing of the cross event takes place in the village. However, this year when the priest (Suad Begovski) tosses the crucifix, on the spur of the moment, she dives into the river and catches it. Much to the anger of the male population.
God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya highlights the inequalities which remain in many rural areas of Eastern Europe. Whilst bigger cities might be more progressive, women still suffer from the gender repression which goes hand-in-hand with traditional religious values. Nusheva is the driving force in Teona Strugar Mitevska’s impressive drama. It’s beautifully shot and mixes the unappetising with the darkly comedic. Making God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya an entertaining watch throughout.
God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya is in US theatres and virtual theatres from 25 June.