And Then We Danced

Led by an outstanding performance from Levan Gelbakhiani, And Then We Danced defeats prejudice with overwhelming compassion.

May 2013. Tbilisi, Georgia. Dozens of gay activists proudly marching against homophobia were violently beat by 20,000 protesters, led by Orthodox Church priests. Police did nothing to prevent the incident. Around this time, 15 countries had legalised the right to same-sex marriage while many others were on their way to doing the same.

But not the Republic of Georgia.

This deplorable tragedy struck a chord with director Levan Akin, whose Georgian roots urged him to make And Then We Danced – a sensual tale on falling in love in a place held back by austere traditions, and the bravest act one can commit under these circumstances: staying true to who you are by opening up your heart.

And Then We Danced presents a passionate tale of love and liberation set amidst the ultraconservative confines of modern Georgian society, following Merab, a devoted dancer who has been training for years with his partner Mary for a spot in the National Georgian Ensemble.

The arrival of another male dancer, Irakli–gifted with perfect form and equipped with a rebellious streak–throws Merab off balance, sparking both an intense rivalry and romantic desire that may cause him to risk his future in dance as well as his relationships with Mary and his family.

The idea of portraying gay romance in such a conservative country as Georgia could give the director Levan Akin many reasons to be moralistic and pretentious. Yet the end result is by no means like this. In every scene, every word, it is subtle, naturalistic, thought-provoking without any unnecessary preachiness. Opinions and feelings are conveyed through music and dance, which enables the film to achieve all its purposes in a delicate yet decisive way.

Ultra-conservative and pro-Russian groups threatened to cancel the premiere screening of the film in Tbilisi, Georgia, last year. The film was considered “against Georgian and Christian traditions and values and popularises the sin of sodomy”. The screenings continued. And it was one of the rare films that ever got a full standing ovation at the end at the following Cannes Film Festival of 2019.

1h 53min | Drama, Romance | Georgian language with English subtitles

Further reading:

When a Film Shows Gay Romance in Georgia, Going to See It Is a Risk