We all came in tears.
It’s always tough to process a film so steeped in conservative traditions completely unlike my own because it’s often difficult to fully comprehend the complexity. Maria Brendle‘s short Ala Kachuu [Take and Run] is no exception considering how futile its depiction of life for women in Kyrgyzstan proves. A faulty feedback loop is created wherein one tragic hardship is transformed into a “lesser evil” when compared to another, unintentionally projecting a message in stark contrast to the work’s goals. The idea here is to show university-hopeful Sezim’s (Alina Turdumamatova) strength and desire to fight back against the patriarchal norms of her culture. So, when she’s ultimately punished for daring to try, we’re forced to wonder if we’re being told that acquiescence to oppression is somehow the better choice.
I know that’s not the case, but it lingers there anyway because the rural-based characters on-screen are so entrenched in believing it. If Americans find it impossible to grasp why their parents’ generation is so adamantly against easing burdens they faced when they were younger (see arguments against dissolving student loans because our greedy society can’t process the reality that some people deserve restitution others no longer need), they’ll never wrap their heads around a mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law telling Sezim everything will be okay because they too were kidnapped and forced into marriage thanks to the indoctrinated cultural blackmail of sacrificing one’s own wellbeing and happiness for that of familial “honor.” Having your hopes and dreams taken away as a rule should never be the cost of living.
There cannot be a happy ending for Sezim as a result. Not unless she escapes Kyrgyzstan altogether. If Brendle’s film tells us anything, it’s that no woman is safe. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the country amongst relatives demanding you marry after high school or in the city under a presumed veil of liberal safety. You can be snatched and forced into a scenario against your will in both places and the fear of consequences that would pale in comparison to an American onlooker (being called a whore, being ostracized, disgracing your family name) is sadly enough for those who should be on your side to instead turn and walk away. Thankfully, Sezim never stops fighting. She might end up dead, but she will not give up.
That’s where this story’s power lies. That’s why the notion that we’re being told Sezim should have stayed home and suffered a similar fate with eyes open is false. Brendle could have gone that direction. This could have been a propaganda piece scaring young girls into listening to their parents because nightmarish horrors await if you don’t. By imbuing Sezim with the autonomy and unflappable perseverance to stare it all down and refuse to waver from a stance of death being the better alternative to staying in a union built upon rape, the film instead reveals itself to be a damning treatise on a people in desperate need of change. It provides viewers a hero unwilling to give up on herself even if her country already has.
courtesy of ShortsTV