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Film Review: “Dede” (2018) ★★★★

© 20 Steps Productions

In some rural communities of countries such as Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, or in the Middle East, women have no right to say anything, to oppose or object a man’s decision made towards her. In the end, she has no choice but to obey and do whatever the opposite gender demands. It’s quite interesting to get into the depth of obsession of why this woman and not someone else must be chosen as a wife. For instance, “Dede” has four men that want to marry her; two of them are genuinely in love with her, the other two are up to showcase their power, while the young woman has no idea how the fight for her will end.

There’s no Romeo and Juliette premise here, but close enough to feel an excessive shivering throughout the movie. Co-written by Vladimer Katcharava, Mariam Khatchvani and Irakli Solomonashvili, and directed by Mariam Khatchvani, “Dede” provides a look into what happens in one small village, how a family decides who their daughter can marry, and if she does not, then she loses not only respect, but can be punished severely by being thrown out of the village. The last part never occurs in the movie, however, it gets closer to highlighting the power of men and the helplessness of women.

Dina is an extremely beautiful young woman. As the war’s just ended, two men, David and Gegi, are coming back to Kvemo Svaneti village. Both men are best friends. David is grateful that Gegi saved his life and is willing to do everything for him, even delay his wedding so that the dedicated friend can follow his savior wherever he wants to go. But soon the tension between the two gets escalated when David learns that the young woman who Gegi is in love with is his fiancé, Dina.

At the point when two men come face to face, one refuses to pull the trigger, but when one of them in the end ends up using it, that bullet not only takes a life, it sweeps away happiness and replaces it with despair, fear, revenge and the promise that the shedding of blood won’t stop until Dina gets, what according to them, she deserves – the great loss of a loved one.

“Dede” is all about the men’s world. “If you will hate me your entire life, you will be my wife. I will not let the whole village laugh at me,” David says angrily to Dina after her demand to call off the wedding. Dina tries very hard to convince David that even by force she still cannot love him, but to no avail. The man not only hits her afterwards, he clearly emphasises that she won’t have any right to say whatsoever, as her life is a done deal for him, which he is the only one to have control over.

Watching movies like this is never easy. Because its deep and hidden point of corrupted society is so clear, even if the movie tries not to talk about it much, you still understand, the pain is there. The truth is there. And it does not matter whether it captures the 20th century or the current one. All these problems still persist whether we want it or not. That’s why Mariam Khatchvani’s film is so powerful, relevant and absolutely honest. She knows that by having such an open discussion through her movie, it may disturb some viewers, but it still reveals the truth – all what you’re about to see is like a tail that follows one generation after another, crosses one century after another, like an unwashable stamp we can’t get rid of. And if we don’t try hard, we will never be able to abandon the stone-age mindset. Until then, stories like “Dede” will be told on or off the silver screen.

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