In memory of my father, Murman Khundadze, who made me fall madly in love with my ancestral land, Guria.
Sachamiaseri, a gorgeous village in Guria, is the movie’s filming location. The movie does not feature a single professional actor/actress, casting villagers instead, such as Khundadze, Koridze, Tevzadze, and others, to mark their big-screen debut.
Traditionally, my kin, Khundadzes, have been famous for singing.
We Khundadze take immense pride in Razhden Khundadze, a celebrated performer of sacred chants. But the problem is that the village next door, just two kilometers from us, is home to the kin of Filimon Koridze, an equally prominent chanter, those who are just as good at singing. In a nutshell, our two clans have been vying with each other since who knows when.
Both clans are indigenous to Guria, a most beautiful region of Georgia. Gurians are second to none when it comes to humor, agility, and wit.
Preparations are in full swing for “a great cause” at the Khundadze oda house. They are digging a tunnel closer to the Koridzes residence in an attempt to eavesdrop on their singing. The village square is hosting a singing competition in two weeks. Only Filimon Koridze’s descendants can defeat Razhden Khundadze’s descendants, and the Khundadze’s cannot let that happen.
Khundadzes dig a tunnel on the sly, all the way to the Koridze wine cellar. Unwilling to trust this mission to anyone outside the family, they dispatch Sashiko, a girl of 12, and Simonike Khundadze, a boy aged 15, to steal the rival’s krimanchuli yodel tune.
Simonike crawls through the tunnel, listens in as the Koridzes sing, inches his way back, and hums whatever he has memorized to Sashiko and her 7-year-old brother. The kids rush to sing the tune to their grandfather, who uses his own peculiar musical notation to write it down. Next, he sends them back to “steal” some more. So Simonike goes back tunnel-traveling, then hums the tune to Sashiko, and Sashiko runs to grandfather, singing….
In this cycle of crawling and chanting, the krimanchuli yodel melody gradually transforms to give birth to a new tune, one that the Khundadzes perform with flying colors at the competition.
In the meantime, it becomes apparent that Koridzes, too, have been spying on Khundadzes as the latter eavesdropped on the latter. One of the Koridze boys catches a glimpse of the beautiful Sashiko Khundadze singing, and falls in love with her.
The competition is held in the delightful village square, under an enormous oak tree. A panel from the city is officiating. Koridzes notice that the Khundadze krimanchuli harmony sounds familiar, though not quite the same as theirs. Finally, it dawns on them… and a brawl breaks out. No offense is unforgivable in Guria except for stealing a tune….
Yet Gurians are like little children—they just cannot hold a grudge for more than a minute or two. And that’s what happens as Khundadzes and Koridzes quarrel, then suddenly reconcile, and head to the Koridze wine cellar to sing together. Koridzes, realizing that Datiko Koridze’s son has a crush on Sashiko, invite her to tag along.
There is a lavish feast in full swing at the Koridze wine cellar. Everyone’s singing, and Sashiko nails stunning high notes.
Koridzes’ daughter-in-law, with a scarf covering her head, witnesses the birth of that romantic spark between her son and Sashiko, and hisses in the corner, as befits a mother-in-law.
“Blame it on the war, but whistling women and crowing hens always come to some bad ends, they say….”
Women first engaged in krimanchuli yodeling during WWII, when all men capable of yodeling were called up.