A film about patriarchy, religion and society from North Macedonia has scooped a key European Parliament award.
God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunija was announced as the winner of the LUX Film Prize, which promotes films about Europe's diversity.
The film centres around 32-year-old overweight Petrunya: she lives in a little village, is unemployed and frustrated by life. The day of the traditional Macedonian religious custom to celebrate the Orthodox Epiphany — where young men jump into the river competing to retrieve the cross thrown into it by the priest — Petrunya jumps in too and catches the cross, to the fury of the aggressive young guys for whom this is a male privilege. This disturbs profoundly the patriarchy values of the village.
"We must denounce patriarchy in the Balkans, in Europe, in the world," the film's director, Teona Strugar MItevska, told Euronews.
"Unfortunately, it is the major (society) system. We are all affected by it, but we do live in an exciting time because we are questioning, we dare just like Petrunya does. You know changes are coming, change is possible, I don't know it is an exciting time."
The film is based on true events that happened in the east Macedonian village of Stip. Despite protests from the local people and the church, she refused to return the cross. The woman encouraged on TV other women to catch the cross in the future as well. She was labelled "mentally confused" and "burdened with problems" by the local population
"I am always criticised by Macedonian politicians that my films are too political and it's true," added MItevska.
"I am an author who is interested in society deviations, I take it as my duty to express my opinion and speak about problems that no one dares to raise because ultimately, how can we build a better future if we don't dare?"
Every year, the LUX Film Prize "promotes European films and showcases their diversity".
The European Parliament finances the nominated films to be subtitled into 24 official languages of the European Union and screens them in all the 28 EU countries before the award ceremony.