Directed by Mariam Khatchvani
Mariam Khatchvani’s feature debut, Dede, is an expansion of her 2013 short film Dinola. The story takes place in 1992 Georgia, in a remote mountainous Caucasian region, Svaneti, where the unalterable, long-established tradition consent men to prevail, relegating women to housework and silence. Not happy with this procedure, Dina (Natia Vibliani) refuses to marry David (Nukri Khachvani), who just returned from the war zone in the company of his good comrade Gegi (George Babluani). The latter is the man Dina fell in love with. Besides hurt in the feelings, David is also ashamed as the wedding is cancelled and he fears to become the laugh of the village.
Following a tragic incident, Dina and Gegi eventually run away to his village, eloping and having a son. However, the happiness doesn’t last long since Gegi is killed and her children taken away by her strict father, who, according to the unwritten laws, has the right to claim the child. Dressed in black for an indefinite mourning period, Dina earns the reputation of a black widow. They say she killed two men already, but apart from the gossip or what the other villagers may think, Girshel (Girchel Chelidze) is decided to take her as a wife, once again using the male-centric power at his disposal. At least he is a good man and really loves her. What can he do to make her love him too?
Impeccably photographed by Konstantin Esadze, the film impels us to ponder about how women are still mistreated in some regions, hampered from having an active role in any intellectual or creative affairs. It brings to view other pertinent aspects such as the absence of school or the belief in ancient rituals to heal, refusing medicine.
Inspired by her grandmother’s story, Khatchvani really dug into her roots, releasing a very personal, strongly feminist, and deeply felt film. The director addresses vital topics with a competent execution, which only failed in creating a bit more dramatic frisson in some essential parts of the story. I would say that, in this case and due to the power of the message, the whole is slightly more engrossing than the individual sections of the film.