Georgia’s first LGBTQ film premiere courts controversy

Police in Tblisi

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Protests against the award-winning film have been taking place in Tbilsi

Protests have been taking place in Tbilisi over the premiere of Georgia’s first LGBTQ film, And Then We Danced.

Directed by Levan Akin, the film tells the story of how Merab, a traditional Georgian dancer, discovers his sexuality while training in the National Georgian Ensemble.

In an interview with Variety magazine, the award-winning Georgian-Swedish director said he wanted to show “the challenges of dealing with homosexuality in a conservative society, the hope in a new generation and the roles of art and tradition”.

The film has already won several awards, including at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Sarajevo Film Festival. It has also been screened at other film festivals, including in Cannes and London.

However, it has attracted controversy with protests from both church-goers and conservative groups.

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Levan Akin (L) say the film is about the challenges of dealing with homosexuality in a conservative society

Mr Akin has already condemned nationalist groups calling on people to fight against “dark forces” in Georgia.

A Georgian LGBTQ rights group, the Equality Movement, asked the police to provide security at the premiere.

Georgia’s Orthodox Church criticised the film’s premiere, calling the screening “an attack against the church”.

Social media users have been quick to enter the debate.

Nationalist group Alt-Info posted a video in which a man “Zurab Makharadze” calls on everyone who shares the same ideology to join the protest.

Zurab also mentions “an informational and ideological war between conservatism and liberalism” and says the film premiere is only a part of the war.

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Prominent Georgian film critic Gogi Gvakharia enters the debate by saying: “This week so many fascists were given air time that I doubt that this hatred, lies and dirt can be outweighed by a good film.”

Other posters, like Mari Ta scoffed that the anti-film campaigners didn’t know what they were wearing, let alone what they were campaigning against.

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Social media users have been discussing the irony of a conservative protestor wearing a Nirvana T-shirt

Protesting against a film is nothing new in Georgia. David Kldiashvili posts a throwback picture on Facebook showing an earlier demonstration against an equally controversial picture – Ron Howard’s Da Vinci Code.

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