The Chalice Of Sons and Daughters
Best Feature Documentary
Catalina Tesar, Dana Bunescu
84' • Romania • 2022
The film takes the viewer straight into the heart of a traditional Roma community from Transylvania where there is little if any freedom of choice in individual lives. Everyone here is compelled by culture to follow a predictable trajectory, namely to marry and conceive offspring. Marriages are arranged by parents for their children at early ages. Yet marital ties are fragile and made to endure only by the birth of a boy to the new couple. Boys alone inherit the family’s badge, the TAHTAIs (chalices)- silver cups that come from their ancestors. Daughters are not desired because they bring the prospects for their parents to pay big cash dowries to marry them off. Conseqeuntly couples often resort to sex selective abortions. When a marriage is arranged, the boy’s chalice is given in trust to the bride’s family until the new couple has a son who will inherit it and will secure the couple’s marriage.The documentary follows Peli and Nina, a young couple in their mid-20s, parents to a 5 year daughter who are striving to conceive a son, in order to comply with the local custom. While they are living under tremendous strain as they are taking fertility and ultrasound checks, their respective families are disputing their rights in the chalice pledged when they arranged the couple’s match. The intricacies of this marriage are teased out by Peli’s sister, Bara, who makes a tear fetching confession about her condition as a female in the community. As we are impatiently waiting for the resolution of the conflict, we are invited to reflect on the strength and resilience of women in a male dominated society.