And Then We Danced
|And Then We Danced|
|Directed by||Levan Akin|
|Written by||Levan Akin|
|Music by||Zviad Mgebry|
And Then We Danced (Georgian: და ჩვენ ვიცეკვეთ, Da chven vitsek'vet) is a 2019 Georgian drama film directed by Levan Akin. It was premiered in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival where it received a fifteen-minute standing ovation. It was one of the most favourably reviewed films out of Cannes that year. It was selected as the Swedish entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 92nd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated. Screening of the film in Georgia sparked protests, due to its portrayal of a gay love affair.
Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani) is a young man and dedicated dancer training at the National Georgian Ensemble with his partner and pseudo-girlfriend, Mary (Ana Javakhishvili), and his deadbeat, delinquent brother David (Giorgi Tsereteli). One day, a rehearsal is interrupted by the arrival of Irakli (Bachi Valishvili), a replacement dancer. Though Irakli rankles some of the other dancers as well as the choreographer, Aleko (Kakha Gogidze) with his smug and rebellious attitude, he quickly proves himself to be a natural talent and replaces Merab in a dance, as Aleko had criticized him for not being masculine and rigid enough. Merab is initially jealous of Irakli's talent, as Irakli has been dancing for much less time than he has, but when the two start rehearsing together early in the morning, they begin to bond. A friendly rivalry forms as they compete for a coveted spot in the main ensemble, though Mary learns that the spot is vacant because the previous male dancer had been caught having sex with another man, leading him to be severely beaten by the other dancers and was forced to resort to prostitution to survive.
Merab visits his father, who, with Merab's mother, used to be part of the dance ensemble. His father implores him to give up his passion and attend school, as there is no future in dance; furthermore, Aleko dislikes their family, and has been biased against him and David as a result. Meanwhile, Merab and Irakli become friends, and Merab grows increasingly attracted to him. On a trip with friends to visit Mary's father, Merab and Irakli succumb to their mutual attraction and have sex; though they remain discreet, Mary becomes suspicious of their closeness. Though the pair do not discuss their relationship, Merab performs a dance for Irakli in his own style as a means of communicating his feelings.
After the group returns home, Irakli disappears, and Merab is unable to contact him. After several missed practices, David finally arrives to the rehearsal, only to be forcibly removed by Aleko due to David's criminal behavior. Merab secures a job for his brother at the restaurant where he works part-time, only for David to get them both fired for dealing drugs on the job, leading to a fight between him and Merab. Despondent and missing Irakli, Merab spontaneously befriends a young male prostitute and goes with him to a gay bar, and is seen leaving by another dancer, Luka. The next day, a hungover Merab performs poorly at practice and injures his ankle. While recovering with Mary, he finally receives a call from Irakli, who informs him that he is back in his hometown to take care of his ill father, and will probably not make the audition. Aleko discourages Merab from auditioning due to his behavior and injury, but Merab insists on continuing to practice. While leaving, he is heckled by Luka, and Mary implores him to be careful, as she does not want him to end up like the ensemble's former dancer.
Merab learns that David is having a rushed wedding, as he has gotten a girl pregnant. At the wedding, Merab spots Irakli in the crowd. Though Merab is glad to see him, Irakli admits that he is leaving the city and giving up dancing; his father has died and he has gotten engaged to his girlfriend in order to be close to and provide for his mother. Heartbroken, Merab leaves the reception before breaking down in tears in a sympathetic Mary's arms. At home, he is comforted by David, who reveals he was injured defending Merab's honor from Luka and the other dancers; when Merab admits that he is actually gay, David accepts him and encourages him to get out of Georgia in order to reach his full potential.
On the day of the audition, Mary shows up to support Merab. Merab dances passionately despite his healing ankle, but is nevertheless dismissed by the unimpressed director. Merab continues anyway, breaking away from the traditional dance to perform in his own unbridled, androgynous style; though the offended director storms out, Aleko stays to watch. After he is finished, Merab bows and departs.
- Levan Gelbakhiani as Merab
- Bachi Valishvili as Irakli
- Ana Javakishvili as Mary
- Giorgi Tsereteli as David
- Marika Gogichaishvil as grandmother Nona
- Kakha Gogidze as Aleko
- Tamar Bukhnikashvili as Teona
- Levan Gabrava as Luka
- Nino Gabisonia as Ninutsa
- Ana Makharadze as Sopo
- Aleko Begalishvili as Loseb
- Mate Khidasheli as Mate
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "certified fresh" approval rating of 93% based on 84 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Led by an outstanding performance from Levan Gelbakhiani, And Then We Danced defeats prejudice with overwhelming compassion." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 68% based on reviews from 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The film sold to more than 40 countries.
In July 2019, at the 10th Odesa International Film Festival the film won the Grand Prix, decided by the audience, as well as the Best Film and Best Actor awards, decided by the international jury. In August 2019, Levan Gelbakhiani won the Heart of Sarajevo Award for Best Actor at the 25th Sarajevo Film Festival. In October 2019, the film won the Best Feature Film Award at the 2019 Iris Prize Festival. In January 2020, the film played in the prestigious Spotlight section at the Sundance Film Festival. It tied with Aniara for most awards at the 55th Guldbagge Awards, winning four awards including Best Film.
And Then We Danced was nominated for the 2021 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film (Limited Release).
Screenings and protests
Ultra-conservative groups threatened to cancel the screening of the film in Tbilisi and Batumi, Georgia. Head of the Children Protection Public Movement Levan Palavandishvili, Levan Vasadze, Dimitri Lortkipanidze, and the leader of ultra-nationalist movement Georgian March Sandro Bregadze announced they would go to the cinemas to not allow the showing of the film "which is against Georgian and Christian traditions and values and popularises the sin of sodomy".
The director of the film, Levan Akin, responded to the threats, saying: "It is absurd that people who bought tickets need to be brave and risk getting harassed or even assaulted just for going to see a film. I made this film with love and compassion." The Georgian Orthodox Church disapproved of the film premiere but also stated that “church distances itself from any violence.”
On 8 November 2019, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia mobilized police troops at Amirani Cinema and nearby territory and placed special riot police troops nearby territory of Philharmonic Hall. Police officers surrounded the entrance to the building of Amirani Cinema. Later that day several hundred members of Georgian March attempted to break the police cordon and forcibly enter the building of Amirani Cinema, but were stopped by the police. Some of the protesters wore masks and used pyrotechnics. Despite the attempts, all screenings of the film took place as planned.
The police detained two persons and accused them of violating Article 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of Georgia (disobedience of lawful order of a police officer) and Article 166 (hooliganism). One of the leaders of the Republican Party of Georgia, Davit Berdzenishvili, was attacked by the protesters. Civil activist Ana Subeliani was also heavily injured in a clash with protesters and transferred to a hospital.
- List of submissions to the 92nd Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film
- List of Swedish submissions for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film
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