Dover Kosashvili has an existential, yet ironic, perspective on life. As he sees it, life presents us with choices. We can choose to fulfill ourselves, or not. But ironically, no matter what we choose, we still may not find fulfillment.
This perspective helps explain the situation in his first feature film, Late Marriage, in which Zaza, the main character, faces an existential moment: he must choose between his mother and his lover.
And his chooses his mother.
Kosashvili's own mother, Lili, played the part of Zaza's mother in the film.
Asked how it was to work with his mother, Kosashvili gave this unusual reply: "Working with my mother was even worse than having sex with her would have been. The idea of a parent exposing himself to his child is painful. Parents and children have relationships with established norms and expectations, which are obvious to both sides. Once I started working with my mother, we couldn't remain within our established relationship. To look in your mother's eyes and see that these norms don't exist anymore is like losing your mother, like being an orphan."
Fortunately, he said, once the film was finished, they were each able to resume their previous relationship.
For Ronit Elkabetz, who won an Israeli Oscar for her role in the film, "Playing the part of Judith put me through a process dealing with here and now, a real lesson in life. Usually I play a woman who is not really part of this world, who is crazy, sick or schizophrenic. But my character in this film is very realistic, with the day-to-day problems facing a single mother. I felt her pain and could identify with her wounds and with her will to fulfill something she didn't have a chance at, to give it a good fight. She succeeds in a way. In every victory you lose something and win something. But Judith kept her pride because she sent him away."
"To use all available resources to achieve realism," Kosashvili said, was his main goal in the film. For that reason, the film concludes with Zaza, like his father, accepting the rules of the game after putting up a struggle. He settles into a relationship where he is in control, even though it is not the one he wants to be in.
Late Marriage, said Elkabetz, is partly about "the illusion of a patriarchal society."
"Almost anything we believe in is an illusion," added Koshashvili. "We just arbitrarily choose to believe in it"--whether it be burning a handkerchief and saying a prayer to make someone love us (as Judith did in the film), or placing the foreskin of an eight-day-old boy under the bed of a girl we want our son to marry (as Zaza's mother did).
Love, Koshashvili believes, is another illusion, as is family. Issues of power and vulnerability, however, are real.
*This conversation was conducted over the telephone, with a translator.