HOUSE WITH A VOICE tells the story of six Burrneshas who, for different reasons, decide to take on the social role of men. They do this to circumvent patriarchal structures, to avoid misogynistic attacks, to support the family economically, to avoid compelled marriage and to be free. Our characters communicate with us intimately as they talk about their lives and bring us closely into their personal journey. They speak about freedom and oppression, about how their breaking of gender barriers was choosing not how to live, but to live. 

Traditionally their appropriation of a new gender wasn’t a personal or conscious sexual choice, it was based on social or economic needs. Today, the patriarchal structures are still ruling and not every woman is willing to accept the restrictions of personal freedom. Living as a Burrnesha gives our characters the same rights and obligations as men. Socially fully accepted they begin to think, to speak and to behave like men. Over the years, some of them are no longer recognizable as women at all. Sanie was raised by her father to be a boy. After his death, she chose to stay a man. For Bedri and Lume, a female life was not an option, their drive for freedom and independence was indomitable. Dianas fate was sealed at the moment of her birth. And Marta, our oldest Burrnesha, took over the role of a man at the age of eleven due to existential reasons. The film accompanies the Burrneshas in their different environments. They complement each other through the common set of themes: freedom and marriage, love and duty, the violence towards women and the fight against it. 

HOUSE WITH A VOICE expands the awareness of human life and its universal conditions. The time among the Burrneshas turns stereotypes and projections of gender discussions upside down. But their story shows in the end, that the essences of life, which are also identified as female, are held as less valuable. Even less worth living. And that this remains so, worldwide.


Antonia Young and Joanne B. Eicher Women Who Become Men: Albanian Sworn Virgins (2000), Series Editor (Click here for more)


Pepa Hristova Sworn Virgins (2013), F. C. Gundlach (Click here for more)

Behind the scenes

Meeting the Burrneshas and gaining their trust was a challenge and a privilege. They are very different one from another, and we joined forces to tell their messages as best as we could.