Will a movie about dancing lead to a violent display?
For this year’s Oscar nominations, Sweden submitted the gay film And Then We Danced. The movies follows a love story between two male dancers in Georgia’s national dance company. The film premiered in Cannes 2019 during the Directors’ Fortnight. And Then We Danced was then nominated for the independent Queer Palm for best LGBT-relevant film.
Afterwards, the film has been successful on the festival circuit and won three prizes at Odessa, two at Valladolid, and the best actor award for lead Levan Gelbakhiani at Sarajevo. But despite its critical acclaim, the film has become the ire of conservative groups. And it seems that similar groups in the country of Georgia are planning to fight against it.
And Then We Danced is set to be shown in select theaters within Tbilisi and Batumi, Georgia this weekend. Tickets for screenings in both cities reportedly sold out within minutes.
But ahead of tonight’s screenings, far-right groups have threatened to storm movie theaters and shut off projectors playing the movie. Nationalist group Georgian March says they’ll stop at nothing, even police involvement, to thwart the playing of this film.
“Our goal is to prevent the film from showing,” said Georgian March member Konstantin Morgoshia to the Georgian Journal. “If they wanted to make a film about love, then why couldn’t they make a film about the love of a man and a woman, when most of Sukhishvili’s dances are based on man’s respect for a woman.”
“Levan Vasadze, a Georgian businessman with links to Russia’s anti-Western and far-right groups, said his supporters will ‘enter screening rooms in the six cinemas in Tbilisi and turn off the projectors,’ also vowing to ‘shove back police if need be.”
In response to these calls of violence, film director Levan Atkin posted the following statement on Facebook.
“So many people have asked me about what’s going on in Georgia regarding the premiere of And Then We Danced on Friday the 8th. Some far right groups and the Church have basically condemned the film and are planning to stop people from entering the sold out screenings. It is absurd that people who bought tickets need to be brave and risk getting harassed or even assaulted just for going to see a film. I made this film with love and compassion. It is my love letter to Georgia and to my heritage. With this story I wanted to reclaim and redefine Georgian culture to include all not just some. But unfortunately these are the dark times we live in and the pending protests just proves how vital it is to stand up against these shadowy forces in any way we can. Over and out.😔❤️”
In addition, Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs issued the following statement:
“One of the tasks of the Ministry of Internal Affairs is to protect human rights and freedoms, regardless of a person’s gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, political views and other signs. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia ensures the protection of public safety and order, as well as the freedom of self-expression (which, of course, corresponds to the frames of the law). We address everyone: obey the law. Otherwise, police will use their lawful mandate and suppress unlawful acts immediately.”