UPDATED (see below).
Far-right groups in Tblisi, Georgia are threatening to take extreme steps if cinemas try to screen And Then We Danced, Sweden’s official Oscar submission in the best international feature film category.
The film, directed by Levan Akin, is a love story about two dancers in Georgia’s national dance company. It is scheduled to screen in Tblisi on Friday night.
AFP reports: “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.’
Vasadze and his nationalist group Georgian March have planned protests today ahead of the film’s screening.
Konstantin Morgoshia, a member of Georgian March, said, “Our goal is to prevent the film from showing. 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.”
Another former politician who is part of the ruling Georgian Dream party’s government, called And Then We Danced a “propaganda of sodomy” and vowed that it would not be screened.
According to Screen Daily, “The film will play in five venues on November 8, 9 and 10 in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi and coastal city Batumi. Tickets for the first screenings reportedly sold out in minutes. … Shot in Tbilisi, the Georgian-Swedish co-production premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes 2019, where it was nominated for the independent Queer Palm for best LGBT-relevant film. It has also been a hit on the festival circuit, winning three prizes at Odessa, two at Valladolid, and the best actor award for lead Levan Gelbakhiani at Sarajevo.”
Wrote Akin on his Facebook page: “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.😔❤️”
Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a 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.”
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