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Strange fruit hanging from the Romanian tree! Poetess Petra Szocs transposes her words onto moving images in debut about albino teen in all-female orphanage - live from Venice (and you can watch it at home, too!)


The Biennale College Cinema is being held for the sixth consecutive year in 2018. Deva is amongst the micro-budget films to premiere at the 75th Venice Film Festival as part of the initiative. Petra Szocs had previously showcased her short films in film festivals such as Saravejo, Clermont-Ferrand and Cannes. Now she steps up to the feature film territory, for the first time. In Deva, she transposes her real-life experiences with a three-year-old albino girl in the eponymous Romanian city onto the silver screen and the fiction world.

Szocs had previously published two poetry books, and her lyrical style is pervasive in the film narrative. Carefully crafted frames and compositions, dreamy metaphors and a vibrant colour palette impregnate the story arc. The skin of Kato, the albino girl, delimits the colour spectrum.

Deva concentrates on a peculiar episode that took place during Kato’s (Csengelle Nagy) early teen years. This is a film that revolves around the young female and, more broadly, orbits around the female universe. That’s because Kato lives in an orphanage entirely run and inhabited by females. This is a fine example of how sorority can function entirely devoid of competition and invidiousness. The only conflict here is internal, as Kato to has face her coming-of-age upon meeting a new volunteer called Bogi (Boglárka Komán). The masculine is kept at a distance, and sometimes perceived as a threat.

The director uses a deft narrative device in order to trigger and to illustrate personal change. Kato becomes empowered by an electric shock (both in the metaphorical and the literal sense). Her childish fantasies morph into personality traits of a grown-up woman. She sees herself as a superhero.

At one point, Kato is snapped by a male photographer. She believes that the man is interested in the eccentric qualities of her eyes and of her skin. This feels like a personal confession made by Szocs. Both artists – the female movie director and the male photographer in the film – are fascinated by the unusual beauty of their subject. Strange texture, strange colour, strange fruit. Hanging from the Romanian tree.

Deva is showing at the 75th Venice International Film Festival taking place right now. You can also view Deva from the comfort of your very own home as part of Festival Scope.

By Tiago Di Mauro - 03-09-2018

Based in London, Di Mauro is an experienced Director and Producer with extended training in Film Curating. He has worked in short films, documentaries, TV, adverts, web shows and music videos. In 2020...

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