Tinatin Kajrishvili’s first feature film, Brides (Patardzlebi, Georgia, 2014) is an unusual and unpredictable story of a limitless love in an unforgiving world. The film challenges the strength and survival of passionate love between Nusta (Mari Kitia), a young Georgian mother, and her husband Goga (Giorgi Maskharashvili), a man carrying out his seven-year prison sentence in Tbilisi. Their relationship is put to a test when Nutsa realizes Goga is not the only one trapped in a box. Nutsa is forced to push the boundaries of her commitment to the man she loves, and must reconcile with the anguish of waiting in the unknown.
Kajrishvili uses a poetic language of filmmaking to drive this powerful and exhilarating story. The slow-pace and long-takes of Brides allow us to settle into Nutsa’s world and to connect with her on an intimate level. A hand-held, free-moving camera, and minimal lighting give the film a realistic feeling. The story is fluid and organic and is not halted by the camera’s presence. These strategies work beautifully for this narrative, as they allow the viewer to become completely immersed in the realism of the film. This story is not only captivating in its cinematic beauty, but it is also moving in its autobiographical nature. Brides draws from Kajrishvili’s and co-writer husband David Chubinishvili‘s lived-experiences (he served a long prison sentence for committing a misdemeanour), adding power and truth to the film. It is a testimony to true human compassion and empathy.
Kajrishvili questions the survival of a boundless love in a confined world. The film shows how the human body and psyche are spaces of extreme resilience. Brides takes on a feminist narrative, challenging what it means to be a single mother in Georgia supporting two children with a low-paying job. It enters into the relevant and important conversation in today’s socio-political atmosphere about the role of women in the family.
Nutsa is a strong, independent and resilient woman. She wears a stern face and confronts the challenges that await her and her family head-on. She is the embodiment of the powerful and liberated 21st-century woman. But, unfortunately, she has fallen victim to the prison system: a structure that takes advantage of her vulnerability. Nutsa is seemingly more trapped in her outside world than Goga, who is behind cold metal bars and bound to his inside world for nearly a decade.
The film opens with a group of women waiting to find out which cell their husbands have been assigned to in the prison. These women are not passive, docile figures – contradicting how many films and visual narratives portray women and femininity. They are angry and upset. They push one another and yell and take up space with their bodies. This opening scene lays down the foundational thematic in which to view the rest of the film. The women do not submit to the liminal space – a space of waiting, the “in-between”– but rather use it to reflect on their potential for change. These in-between moments are spaces of transformation for Nutsa. She is in constant liminality: waiting rooms in the prison, lines, busses, and visiting rooms. However, Nutsa strives to bring meaning back into the meaningless. She is forced into a state of discomfort, where she must reconcile with the passionate love she has for her partner and the new world of boundaries she lives in. Can love exist in a liminal space? Nutsa draws from the vulnerability of this space to build her own strength and agency as a woman, and to create new meaning in her life.
Brides is a moving and empowering film, and will leave viewers contemplating notions of love and loyalty. Mari Kitia’s performance is breathtaking and emotional; she takes us on a ride through our own moral turmoil and she reminds us of the never-ending struggle of relationships and family-building. This Georgian-French co-production was shown all over the world at festivals, but its screening in the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival marks its Canadian Premiere.
The film won awards at Berlinale 2014, Sarajevo Film Festival, BIAFF Film Festival, and Scarborough Worldwide Film Festival.
Kajrishvili has given us a gift of filmmaking on which to reflect upon the gendered structures within our societies and the powerful potential women have to expose systems of oppression.
By Zoe Arthur
Zoe Arthur is a UBC film production student, minoring in gender, race, sexuality and social justice. She writes about social issues in a critical, feminist framework and aims to show how film can be a powerful tool for social change.
Brides screens on Saturday March 12th at 8:30 PM at the Vancity Theatre. For more information and tickets, click here.