North Macedonia, Belgium, Slovenia, France, Croatia


In Stip, a small town in Macedonia, every January the local 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, Petrunija 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? All hell breaks loose, but Petrunija holds her ground. She won her cross and will not give it up.

Director's Statement

A few years ago, a woman jumped into the icy water of the local river and caught the cross. That was a first in the history of the ceremony, the local priests didn’t know what to do while the locals complained of a breach of regulations. A woman was not supposed to jump or - even worse - catch the cross, the town was on its feet. Subsequently the cross was taken from her and since that year women are officially banned from the event.

The event inspired a rage within me, especially after the decision of the church to ban women from the event from that moment on.

We live in turbulent times but it seems to me that the question of being a woman is more threatened than ever before. We often speak of women and Islam but I would like to push the question further: religion and women and the place of the woman within. Where are we going and what kind of world are we leaving for the woman of tomorrow?

I put forward the notion of the sex of God, and the importance of the factor of the sex of one as pivotal factor in our society. By challenging the idea of the actual sex of the supreme creator I want to put forward the idea of rebellion and the importance to rebel in order to change. Through this simple concept I reinforce my firm believe in the power of the individual.

Petrunija is solid, she is strong and determined, but also beautiful and sexual and while she is terrorised by men the entire day, she manages to stay calm and in control, her goal is clear and simple - she fights to exist in the terms she believes in: FREE and she is prepared to succumb under most difficult and agonising difficulties to reach it.

Director's Biography

Teona Strugar Mitevska was born in 1974 into an artistic family in Skopje, Northern Macedonia.
She started as a child actor, trained as a painter and graphic designer and later studied in an MFA program on Film at the Tisch School of Arts, New York University. She made her debut as short film director in 2001 with VETA and her first feature was HOW I KILLED A SAINT, made under the auspices of the Sisters and Brother Mitevski company she established together with her brother Vuk and her sister Labina.
Her next feature film, I AM FROM TITOV VELES, received a Special Jury Prize at the 2007 Sarajevo Film Festival. Her feature film THE WOMAN WHO BRUSHED OFF HER TEARS premiered at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival and in 2013 Teona directed and edited film TERESA AND I, a feature documentary about Mother Teresa, her life and work through the perspective of a woman of today.
Her feature film WHEN THE DAY HAD NO NAME premiered in the Panorama Special section of the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Teona Stugar Mitevska

Written by: Elma Tataragic, Teona Strugar Mitevska

Produced by: Labina Mitevska

Cinematography: Virginie Saint Martine

Editing: Marie-Hélène Dozo

Production Design: Vuk Mitevski

Costume Design: Monika Lorber

Make-Up & Hair: Mojca Gorogranc Petrushevska

Original Score: Olivier Samoullian

Sound: Ingrid Simon

Cast: Zorica Nusheva (Petrunija)

Nominations and Awards

  • European University Film Award 2019
  • Feature Film Selection 2019