Right-wing, religious groups threaten to disrupt screening of first Georgian film about gay love
On November 8-10, the first Georgian film about gay love – And Then We Danced – will be shown in Tbilisi cinemas.
However, far-right nationalists, as well as representatives of the church, have already announced that there will not be a premiere: they plan to stage a protest and block the entrances to cinemas, claiming that ‘love between two men is unacceptable for Georgian society.’
The film in question was shot by Swedish director of Georgian origin Levan Akin, and recounts the story of two dancers who fall in love with one another.
The film was nominated by Sweden for an Oscar.
“In Georgian dance there is no room for weakness”
The plot of the film is set in Tbilisi, in the studio of the national ensemble of Georgia.
Merab has been dancing with his partner Mari since childhood.
His life is turned upside down when a young guy named Irakli opens the door to the studio. Merab is attracted to him.
Some snippets of the film dialogue include:
– Do you know where you’ve come?
– To the Georgian national ensemble.
– So then, take out that earring!
“Georgian dance is based on masculinity. There is no place for weakness in it.”
A few days before the screening, all movie tickets were sold out in both Tbilisi and Batumi.
Like Mahatma Gandhi
This one-and-a-half minute trailer was enough for Georgian nationalists to be mobilized against the film of Akin.
“In the summer we prevented a gay pride parade, now we will tear down this film screening,” said Sandro Bregadze, leader of the Georgian March nationalist movement, who worked several years ago as deputy minister for the diaspora in the government of the current ruling Georgian Dream party.
However, Bregadze promises that he and his like-minded companions will prevent film screenings “peacefully, without any violence, within the framework of the constitution and freedom of expression.”
“In the spirit of peaceful protest by Mahatma Gandhi, we will prevent the spread of gay propaganda,” Bregadze told Radio Liberty.
The Georgian organization of ultranationalists “Georgian March”, headed by Bregadze, was created three years ago and managed to become famous for its large demonstrations and a series of incidents. For example, one of the initiatives of the Georgian March was patrolling in the streets of Tbilisi and ‘catching suspicious migrants’.
Together with Bregadze, another Georgian nationalist, businessman Levan Vasadze, is already mobilizing his supporters against the film.
In a video appeal on Facebook, Vasadze called on his supporters to gather in the center of Tbilisi, in Vera Park and “with their bare hands, without aggression, to enter the cinema building and disrupt the sessions.”
He also appealed to the cinema owner Gia Bazgadze:
“Gia, I consider you a real man and was very surprised when I found out that this film will be shown in your cinemas. If someone intimidated you or forced you to do it, tell me, and all of Georgia will protect you,” Vasadze told the owner of the cinemas, where Akin’s film will be shown.
Georgian businessman Levan Vasadze, who is close to Kremlin ideologist Alexander Dugin, who is considered in Georgia to be an expression of Russian interests, has long been noted as an ardent homophobe.
The church also opposes the film, whose representatives themselves were recently involved in a scandal with accusations of “pedophilia and sodomy” by the influential clergyman Bishop Petra and other clergymen.
The press secretary of the Georgian Patriarchate Andria Jagmaidze said in an interview with TV Pirveli that “This film is about gay love and this is unacceptable. The response of the church will be severe.”
The Georgian Interior Ministry told Radio Liberty that according to the law, law enforcement agencies will do everything to ensure public order and the safety of the public who come to the screening of the film.
Director Levan Akin, in an interview with The Georgian media, says that the inspiration for creating this film was the difficult situation in which LGBT individuals find themselves in Georgia.
Akin mentioned May 17, 2013.
On this day, which is marked on the world calendar as the day against homophobia and transphobia, in Tbilisi, church representatives and radicals disrupted a rally that called on citizens to be tolerant and tolerant of people with a different sexual orientation.
Then the police hardly saved hundreds of homophobia fighters who came out on the action from religious fanatics and neo-Nazi groups ready to start the massacre. The buses on which the police took out LGBT activists were bombarded with stones.
According to Akin, he was struck by the aggressiveness of the crowd and it was then that he decided that he would make a film on this topic.
Georgian radicals have been especially active over the past few years.
The opposition, non-governmental organizations and part of the public accuse the Georgian leadership of “covering up” the radicals and using them for their political purposes. In particular, for holding counter rallies as opposed to anti-government demonstrations.
The world premiere of the film And Then We Dance was held in Cannes in May 2019 as part of the independent section Director’s Fortnight, after which about forty countries purchased the right to show the film.
The film has already received fifteen international awards.
The leading actor Levan Gelbahiani was included in the list of “most exciting talents” of the Cannes Film Festival – 2019, and also won the nomination for “Best Actor” at the 64th International Film Festival in the Spanish city of Valladolid (Valladolid International Film Festival).
The film is a co-production of the Georgian company Takes Film and the Swedish French Quarter Film.