Far-right protests greet Georgia gay film premiere

By Bernadette McCague and David Lobzhanidze
BBC News and BBC Monitoring

  • Published
Police in TblisiImage source, On.ge
Image caption,
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".

And Then We Danced 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.

Sweden has selected the film as its entry for the best international feature film award for the Oscars.

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

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
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.

აქცია 8 ნოემბერს, 16:00 საათზე, ვერის ბაღში

აქცია 8 ნოემბერს, პარასკევს, 16:00 საათზე, ვერის ბაღში; რას ვაპირებთ

Posted by Alt-Group • ალტ-ჯგუფი on Wednesday, November 6, 2019
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Prominent Georgian film critic Gogi Gvakharia entered 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.

Image source, On.ge
Image caption,
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.

2006 წელი. საქართველო. თბილისი. ვაპროტესტებთ ფილმს "და ვინჩის კოდი". დაიცავი ტრადიცია.

Posted by David Kldiashvili on Thursday, November 7, 2019
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