TIFF Review: The Hill Where Lionesses Roar

Jeta, Qe and Zem

Every craft, profession or career has its wunderkinds. Those young people who seem to be lightyears ahead of their peers. Making and producing work you’d expect from someone twice their age. The film industry is no exception. This normally manifests itself in front of the camera, with the likes of Kristen Stewart and Saoirse Ronan showing exceptional promise at an early age. It’s much less common in the director’s seat, but Luàna Bajrami (at the ripe old age of 20) has already made the transition and her feature debut, The Hill Where Lionesses Roar, is very impressive.

Jeta (Urate Shabani), Zem (Andi Bajgora) and Qe (Flaka Latifi) are three fast friends who live in a remote Kosovan village. They dream of a better life. A future where they can be whoever they want. However, their aspirations are stifled by the traditional values and gender roles expected within their community and the lack of opportunities to leave. Frustrated and angry, they’ve reached the end of their tether. Desperate to escape, the trio take matters into their own hands.

Captured in washed-out summer hues, The Hill Where Lionesses Roar is a fresh and poetic tale of three young women determined to make something of their lives. This pride is fiercely protective and reacts angrily when provoked. The way the camera roams around and the naturalistic performances imbue it with a sense of urgency and although is does lose its way towards the end The Hill Where Lionesses Roar is a thrilling and audacious feature debut.

The Hill Where Lionesses Roar screens at Toronto International Film Festival.

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