Potato, think of every possible recipe or ways you can use this boon of a vegetable for. Now think, can ever be a currency for you? Imagine going to a store and buying a scarf for 5 Kgs of potato. No, wait, I’m not narrating any episode from a period drama or Arabian Nights; this is a reality people in a remote town of the Republic Of Georgia are living right now. Today on Koimoi Recommends, I recommend you The Trader on Netflix.
A landscape so stuck in poverty and time that kids there don’t know what their aspirations should be, and adults now only wish they can escape the place to catch up with the world.
Director: Tamta Gabrichidze
Language: Georgian (With Subtitles)
Available On: Netflix
The Trader on Netflix follows a trader who begins his spree with shopping for second-hand goods. He isn’t buying those for himself but has a plan with it. All he does is take those to a village and set them up in barter for potatoes. People literally crowd up around his van with sacks of potatoes, and it is in 2018 that the film was made. Do we really know what exactly our world looks like as a whole?
In a documentary that spans roughly 25 minutes, Tamta, the director follows a trader as he does his everyday routine by bartering things in this remote village in the Republic of Georgia. A place where modernisation seems to be waiting at the gates, but the lack of resources is not allowing it to enter in. The filmmaker treats his film like trivia for the world to see and turn their gaze to a part of the left-back world.
The Trader has people casually talking about their dreams being crushed by their social condition. We meet an older man who had dreams to study, but now only wishes that he at least gets to move out of that town. After which enters an old lady who bargains and tries to use the money to buy something but doesn’t have enough. She talks about her loneliness and how a machine as small as a dicer will make her life more comfortable.
Tamta doesn’t paint The Trader like a sob story; instead, he fills the frame with hope, hope that one fine day these people will be able to catch-up with the world. He uses his camera to capture the town like a prison. Even his wide shots have a limitation; you cannot see far and above. Giving a feeling of how these people are living in a curse and waiting for someone to break free them.
One of the frames that has my heart and even broke it, is when Tamta in The Trader asks a kid what does he want to become when he grows up. His mother prompts him to say a journalist, but he goes mute. He sheepishly smiles and gazes at the camera for a minute, a gaze of hopelessness and confusion that pierces your heart. It isn’t his fault; it is because the only thing he has seen is the potato bargain. His ambitions have never crossed the potato field his mother works in.
Watch The Trader (Sovdagari) on Netflix and discover a land yet to understand globalisation and it isn’t a tale of the yore. It’s 2018; I remind you again.
Stick to Koimoi for more!