The Trader is a short documentary on Netflix, shot in Georgia in (Georgian) its native language. It is a Sundance, jury award-winning documentary for non-fiction directed by Tamta Gabrichidze and is his first film. The documentary captures the hopeless situation faced by citizens in the republic of Georgia.
Documentary at Length!
The 23 minute run up time documentary portrayed Gela, a middle-aged man who commutes to the poverty-stricken periphery of the country to sell second-hand clothing, toys, and everyday items from the back of his minibus. Gabrichidze paints a stunning portrait of life in these rural areas, where potatoes are essentially the only lucrative possession they have. Gela travels from Tbilisi to the Georgian countryside with a van full of all different kinds of baubles, and prices each of the items in kilograms of potatoes. While his business model is fascinating, what really make The Trader special are the people that we encounter along Gela’s journey. Gabrichidze beautifully captures the people that live here, the children who flock to see bubbles blown, the old men smoking and chatting about dreams, the women trying on scarves and shoes and harvesting faster than anyone. It’s not often you see life depicted on screen in a way that doesn’t feel inauthentic, but in The Trader, every moment feels like it’s unfolding naturally.
As we peep into each character deeply, we get a little more insight into what life is like for them. One old man speaks of how his childhood dream was to be educated, but he couldn’t, because he never got the opportunity. “Dream? Now?” he brushes off the notion when asked, and looks back with a friend. “If I were young, I would drive away from this village,” they laugh, joking about what might have been. There are few images as joyous as when three small rosy-cheeked children run up to try to catch bubbles, and few things as devastating as a lonely old woman with no money or potatoes desperately attempts to negotiate for a grater that she “needs”. I actually anticipated at that point that Gale would give her the grater but alas! Along with her I too got upset and felt her plight. From sneak peek into one family’s home, where a shy little boy struggles to tell Gabrichidze what he wants to be when he grows up to Gela’s unwavering dedication to running his minivan operation like a cold, hard business. He looked so cute and helpless at the same time as he wasn’t able to answer when asked about his ambition because the occupation which he was craving for wasn’t that easy. The Trader is a fearless look at how very different kinds of people make their way in this world. It’s a reminder that we shouldn’t take things for granted, and that happiness can be found in even the smallest of pleasures – like trying on a second hand scarf, chasing after bubbles or sharing your “wish I could” moments.
What makes it thumbs up and out of the box documentary?
“It’s easy to hate life when you have doldrums. Brave is the one who smiles in poverty”. This quote used to drive me inquisitive every time I see or read it, pondering that’s its utter nonsense to even imagine smile on somebody’s face who is going through adversities because it is hell honestly natural to be upset and low when you are deprived of basic necessities. But after watching ‘The Trader’ I felt a beautiful transformation in my mind, when I commenced watching the documentary, I anticipated it to be something entirely different from it came out as.
Money was meaningless in that market but potatoes were lucre. I was able to see myself in the shoes of the people and felt as if it’s a mundane conversation of mine. It doesn’t look like a reel going on rather it seemed pretty much real and connecting.