Tradition, gender and sexuality are usually the factors that create tension on social media platforms. A recent screening of a film in Tbilisi shows exactly what we are talking about. There was a gathering of people in Georgia that had come together to protest against a movie screening. The movie covered a romance between two men which is what created the gulf and caused major violence.
And Then We Danced– A film that focused on tradition and change.
The film named And Then We Danced, is directed by a young Swedish film maker Levan Akin. The movie is mainly based on the Georgian National Ballet. It covers the romance between two male dancers. The film is nominated for the Oscars for the best international feature film of 2020.
Akin took a bold step to tell a story that combined both masculinity and tradition in the Georgian culture. The movie opens with the line “Georgian dancing is based on masculinity. There is no room for weakness.” Akin shows a young boy that struggles with traditional ideas of masculinity. To add to which, his passion for dance and his growing desire for his male rival.
The director encourages the viewers to rethink gender norms. His approach to culture and tradition, combined, throws light on the expansion of tradition.
What caused the eruption of violence?
The Georgian culture takes immense pride in its heritage and tradition. Moreover, National ballet is a source of national pride. You can ask any Georgian about traditional dance. And they will tell you how moved they are by the beating drums and dancers’ movement. They describe it as hitting your soul. Also, adding this to a gay theme is what set the violence off outside the theater.
Lets elaborate. The movie was screened for three days starting on November 8. After the screening, religious groups felt that the theme of the movie was a threat to Georgian traditions and their way of life. Later, protesters created a riot on the streets. They stopped audiences to enter the screen. They tried to storm the area but failed because the police held them off. The police sealed off the area. But that did not stop protestors from burning the LGBTQ flag. To add to it, a priest was reciting prayers. Firecrackers were lit and smoke bombs were thrown at moviegoers. It suddenly became chaotic.
The police was deployed to provide safety to protestors. So they can express freely. But things become worse after a point.
Ana Subeliani, a civil activist, stood with the rights of LGBTQ people. She was struck by a stone outside the cinema which caused her to be hospitalized. After the incident, Ana felt she had been with with a heavy object. She was in extreme pain and thought she had lost an eye. She described it as the “most aggressive protest of this kind”.
“As soon as we showed up, homophobic protesters surrounded our group and insulted us. They are focused on demonizing and marginalizing LGBT people.”
The authorities’ take on the situation.
Even though the police tired to control the situation, they could not contain the mob. The mob kept throwing stones and injuring activists and journalists. One person is facing criminal charges for attacking Ana. While many others were detained on disobedience charges.
In 2014, Georgia had adopted anti discriminatory laws. But homosexuality still remains disapproved by the country. Moreover, in times like these influential churches back up these anti gay elements. LGBTQ people experience discrimination and abuse in every phase of life regardless of the laws passed in the country. The government should take more serious measures to stop such violence. But they are falling short on their obligations. The Georgian authorities should not encourage violence of LGBTQ and its supporters. They should do more to condemn remarks of homophobia by public officials.
Movies create a lot of tension.
And then we danced is probably not the first movie to create chaos around countries. Many more films create major impact on the society and its individuals. But a film should just be about entertainment. If it educated us on particulate subjects, it is not a bad thing. But it is not the intention of film makers to create content that is demeaning. It is probably just the perception of individuals that view the film.
“I made this film with love and compassion,” Akin said after the violent protests against his film. “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.”
What is your take on the situation that happened in Georgia? Is it really valid to make such a big fuss about a movie? Or is it just another reason to attack the LGBTQ community?