The cattle market is Emyl Masimov’s weekend playground. Every Sunday, with the night still shrouding his native village of Sabirkendi, the 12-year-old wakes up and travels with his father, Khalit, 10 kilometers to the weekly animal bazaar in Marneuli, a predominantly ethnic Azerbaijani town west of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. It is a long day -- from 1am through the mid-afternoon, constantly checking calves and cows, bargaining and counting.
Livestock is this rural community’s main source of sustenance. Starting late Saturday night, people flock to Marneuli’s market from surrounding villages to sell their animals. The two Masimovs trade cows. They buy them when it is still dark to re-sell them a few hours later at a higher price.
On a good day, they can make a profit of up to 200 laris ($82). It is their family’s main income. Sixth-grader Emyl has learnt from an early age that you need to work hard to make a living. He’s not alone, as the market teems with children.
“Emyl's Playground,” filmed in 2017, sheds light on a community where children jump into adulthood far too early.