Behind blue prison bars in Tbilisi


Photo by Goga Devarian The brides, waiting to meet their imprisoned husbands.
Photo by Goga Devarian
The brides, waiting to meet their imprisoned husbands.

BY RANIA RICHARDSON  |  A  young Georgian woman struggles to hold her life together as she waits for the father of her children to finish a ten-year prison sentence in this fine addition to an ever-expanding body of international incarceration chronicles.

Untitled-4The drama is even more poignant with the knowledge that director Tinatin Kajrishvili and her co-writer, husband David Chubinishvili, based it on their own true-life experiences when he was behind bars. The debut feature for Kajrishvili world-premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.

Turbulence in post-Soviet Georgia left many families with members in prison — and here, seamstress Nutsa (Mari Kitia) awaits Goga (Giorgi Maskharashvili), who is in jail for an unspecified crime. “They’re all here for ‘stealing a bike,’ ” sighs one official in the correctional facility. A new rule allows women to visit their men for an hour each month if they are married, so women of many generations gather there for a quick function that will legalize their unions and make them “brides.”

‘Brides’ a fine addition to the incarceration chronicle genre

The quiet film, shot in dusty hues, focuses on quotidian life and unremarkable moments. The tale is infused with an element of suspense after Goga describes a short story by Yukio Mishima to Nutsa, in which a prisoner and his wife commit mutual suicide.

Eventually Goga’s children and friends drift away emotionally. Nutsa is attracted to a customer who comes to her for sewing alterations, but her heart is with her husband. When conjugal prison visits are finally allowed, Nutsa unearths the polka dot dress from their first date to join him in a motel-like development surrounded by blue prison bars.

“I’ve been sleeping with 40 men for four years,” says Goga, incredulous that he can finally lay with his wife. The two share “forbidden” chewing gum and listen to the other prisoners singing to their loved ones. Their faces register the emotions of sorrow, even as their reunion seems joyful on the surface.

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