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Film Film Reviews

Review | The Trader / Sovdagari

The Trader - Sovdagari - Netflix - Sundance - Review

Sundance awarding-winning documentary, The Trader / Sovdagari, follows trade merchant Gele in the small country of Georgia. Director Tamta Gabrichidze provides a small window into the reality of the rural areas in this Netflix short documentary.

The Trader / Sovdagari really is a small window. However, in that opportunity, it provides a cold truth to the social structures set up in other parts of the world. In the rural areas of Georgia, money is void as a currency. Poverty is rife, and one value the people do depend on is potatoes. Yes, the vegetable is a way of negotiation and payment.

The documentary comfortably invades the lives of these people, following Gele in worn villages. The Trader / Sovdagari initially watches the trade merchant pick his potatoes and a mix-match of garments and other items. Shortly after that, he ventures into the rural areas. The first person you come across looks directly in the camera, which I believe was left intentionally in the edit. For these people, this reality is normal, thus proving that currency can be absolutely anything.

The most striking moments in this short documentary are when you see the children. Despite living in burdening poverty they appear full of energy and happy. Their happiness provides the viewer sadness that they live in a world where a trader, who is not so wealthy himself, has to trade food for toys. The upper echelons of this society are someone like Gele, who uses old clothes, toys, and appliances for his potato bank. There are moments of utter sadness; especially when he comes across a very old lady who is trying to negotiate a low-value commodity for a grater: “I’m old, and I am alone. Please.” With zero ambition and lives crushed by poverty, there is no time for sympathy, it seems.

Whilst in the western world, we argue and question the value of capitalism, with the plunging stock markets and the widening gap between the rich and the middle class, it is clear that there are vastly different situations. It is hard not to feel lucky. Food should never be a currency. Netflix’s short documentary The Trader / Sovdagari provides compelling insight in twenty-three minutes. With the short running time, it is worth your time.

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3 comments on “Review | The Trader / Sovdagari

  1. This film, ohmigosh. Heartbreaking. When he asks the little boy what he wanted to be when he grew up and the little boy just mouthed words but couldn’t actually speak– like he had zero hope for his future? I think I really heard my heart break. And the old lady? I had to leave the room. So I missed the scene where she was walking away– it was too much. I am a single mom, I certainly don’t live high on the hog but, compared to these people, children who get excited by lady’s purses and SPONGES, I must look like I live like a queen. More than anything I would love to be able to pack up Care packages for those kids & that woman. More than anything! How do you think one could go about doing such a thing?

  2. the scene with the boy tried so hard to find words…it is burnded down in my memory.

  3. Borej Kusevic

    This is one of the saddest, most eye opening 23 minutes I have ever experienced in my entire life. The grim reality is that this kind of life is a reality for many people in most of the Former Socialist Republics. Meanwhile here in America we joke about how many potatoes Netflix would charge for membership.

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