What would you do to escape a miserable situation? A young woman discovers the possibilities — and ramifications — of pursuing an escape in “Murina.” Co-writer and director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s feature debut became a buzzed-about title after the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. The Directors’ Fortnight selection went on to win Caméra D’or (Best First Film) before showing at festivals around the world. Set among the enticing landscape of Croatia’s Adriatic coast, this visually impressive effort delves into a family’s growing distress.
For the filmmaker, it was crucial to highlight the balance each woman faces between achieving empowerment and maintaining sexuality. “I feel women often either hide their powers to stay afloat or castrate it from their sensuality… the feminine,” Alamat Kusijanovic said. “It is wrong to think women are either sensual or powerful – one doesn’t exclude the other.”
The film’s official synopsis:
On a remote island along Croatia’s Adriatic coast, 17-year-old Julija spends her days diving for eel with her domineering father Ante and watching other teens party on a nearby yacht. Julija bristles at Ante’s heavy-handed cruelty and resents her mother Nela’s passivity. She longs for independence but is unsure how to achieve it, until the arrival of the rich and mysterious Javier seems to offer a way out. Javier is considering buying Ante’s land to build a resort, which would allow the family to escape their island isolation for the city. Once Ante’s employer and Nela’s lover, Javier flirts shamelessly with Nela and Julija, setting off a subtle battle of hypermasculine one-upmanship that pushes Ante to humiliate and control Julija even more. Flattered by Javier’s praise and stories of traveling the world, Julija sees him as the solution to all her problems. But does his affection portend freedom, or something more sinister?
Winner of the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, lensed by award-winning cinematographer Hélène Louvart (“The Lost Daughter,” “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”), and Executive Produced by Martin Scorsese, “Murina” features a star-making central performance by Gracija Filipović. Equal parts fiery feminist outcry and stirring coming-of-age drama, the film announces director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović as a major new talent in world cinema.
Gracija Filipović, Danica Curcic, Leon Lučev, and Cliff Curtis star in “Murina.” The film opens July 8 at New York’s Metrograph theater and July 15 at Los Angeles’ Laemmle Theatres. Watch the trailer below.