Dede (2017) **** Home Ent release
Dir.: Mariam Khatchvani; Cast: George Babluani, Nukri Khatchvani, Natia Vibliani, Girshel Chelidze; Georgia/Croatia/UK/Ireland/Netherlands/Qatar 2017, 97 min.
Georgian filmmaker Mariam Khatchvani made her name as a documentarian. Her minimalist feature debut is based on true events that took place at the outset of the Georgian Civil War in the remote mountainous community of Svaneti, far removed from the modern world. A purely patriarchal society that revolves around forced marriages, pride and tradition dictate the code of daily life. Dina is a young woman promised by her draconian grandfather to David, one of the soldiers returning from the war. Once a marriage arrangement is brokered by two families, failure to follow through on the commitment is unthinkable.
Khatchvani uses an evocative visual approach with minimal dialogue to tell the story of this woman essentially trapped by men. Gegi (Babluani) has just saved his best friend’s David’s life. Ironically this leaves David (N. Khtachvani) free to marry Dina (Vibliani) but in reality Gegi is in love with her – the two fell fro each other though their original meeting was so brief they never even exchanged names. When Dina reveals her true feelings to David, he simply replies: “you will marry me, even if you are unhappy for the rest of your life”. David then suggests Gegi join him for a hunting trip which ends in tragedy leaving this intelligent woman thwarted by the controlling men in her life.
DoP Mindia Esadze impresses with towering panoramas of the mountains, but is equally well equipped to show the clashes between the progressive and traditional forces. Babluani is really convincing in her passionate fight for happiness, even though she hardly raises her voice.
Khatchvani shows the backward life for Georgian women in a country where traditional Spiritualism and the Muslim faith both conspire against them, and men end arguments with “A woman has no say in this matter”. But the director is living proof that women can succeed with this atmospheric arthouse indie made on a restricted budget. The feature leaves only one question: since both fatal accidents were shown off-camera, we are left wondering whether Girshel might have been the perpetrator in both cases. AS
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