The screening of the gay themed movie "And then we danced" on Friday turned into a battle of wills between tolerant and intolerant Georgian society, as right wing groups tried to disrupt the film's opening night in Tbilisi and Batumi.
"And Then We Danced" was filmed in Tbilisi by Levan Akin, a Swedish movie director with Georgian roots.
Billed as the "Georgian gay dance romance," it premiered in Directors' Fortnight in Cannes in May 2019 and went on to win a number of top awards at the Sarajevo Film Festival, Gent Film Festival, Odessa Film Festival and Carl Film Festival.
The film had already created controversy when it was being filmed, but right wing groups decided that it should not be shown in Georgian cinemas and tried to disrupt screenings in six cinemas in Tbilisi and Batumi, despite the fact that tickets for all showings for the weekend were quickly sold out.
Spearheading the disrupters was the group Georgian March, a shady group with alleged connections to Kremlin supported groups. For a long time Russia has been trying to drive a wedge between Georgia and western countries, citing western liberal values as being inconsistant with Georgian traditions. Their main action on Friday evening was in front of the Amirani Cinema in Tbilisi, although incidents were reported also at some of the other venues.
Georgian police however moved resolutely to protect public order, at the same time ensuring freedom of expression. Despite the protests and some delays and inconveniences the showings at all six venues went ahead. Several disrupters were arrested.
Tbilisi Mayor, Kakha Kaladze, commenting on the incidents said,
"It was very bad to see what happened yesterday. And very sad. People of different nationalities, beliefs and orientations have lived, lived, and will live in Georgia for years. Everyone's rights have always been protected, they are still protected today and will be protected in the future".
photo: A shot from the movie "And then we danced".
The head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell calls for a more comprehensive approach and more intensive dialogue with Turkey after meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara