LA FABRIQUE AT CANNES – Mariam Khatchvani, “Dede”

(part of a multi-article series about the 2014 Fabrique des Cinémas program at the Cannes Festival)

THE PITCH: In “Dede” the strict honor code of this mountainous region of Georgia makes happiness elusive and prevents a mother from being with her child.

Where are you from ?
I was born in Ushguli, Georgia, where “Dede” was shot.

How bad are filmmaking conditions in Georgia?
Conditions for making a film are difficult there, but if you focus on the conditions and the negative things, you’ll never end up doing anything. It was easier for me, fortunately, since I grew up there. I know this place and the people well.

Can you describe your filmmaking process?
We finished principal photography in twelve days, the entire filmmaking process taking about a year. I gained a lot experience through working with an experienced producer and crew. I am lucky to have a good producer whom I can trust: it is the most important thing to me for the film. I also worked with Svans (native peoples from the region) who did not have any acting experience.

Working with natives in my birthplace enriched the filmmaking experience and helped make the film that I wanted to make, about life in my village with actual village inhabitants as actors and as crew.

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Your film has a documentary-like quality to it. You’re filming real life, real people.
Yes, It was very important for me to write about real life. I think everyday life in Ushguli is interesting and so it is not necessary to make up a lot of stuff. That’s why I decided to use local people who speak the native language, Svanish (a Georgian dialect, spoken by about 15, 000 people in that area of Georgia), and live in a beautiful natural backdrop. It’s something of a paradise there, and this is the reason why the locals don’t leave this place, even though life can be difficult.


Still from “Dinola,” Khatchvani’s previous film

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