Tbilisi, November 8, 2019
The Patriarchate of Georgia has issued a statement opposing the screening of Levan Akin’s acclaimed gay film “And Then We Danced,” as well as any manifestations of aggression on the part of those opposed to the film.
The film is scheduled to be screened in Tbilisi and Batumi on November 8-10. Its description on IMDb reads: “Merab has been training from a young age at the National Georgian Ensemble with his dance partner Mary. His world turns upside down when the carefree Irakli arrives and becomes both his strongest rival and desire.”
“The Orthodox Church of Georgia has always been, is and will be categorically irreconcilable both with sin in general and, especially, with the popularization and legitimization of sodomite relations. Therefore, we consider it absolutely unacceptable to show such a film in cinemas. At the same time, we note that, as before, and now, of course, we oppose violence and violent actions,” the statement on the Patriarchate’s website reads.
Sandro Bregadze, leader of conservative movement Georgian March, has announced that his group will hold a demonstration against the premiere of the film today, as they believe that the movie undermines Georgian traditions and values, reports Georgia Today.
While the film’s director Levan Akin worries that people will be harassed on the way into the theater, Bregadze assures, “We will act absolutely peacefully.”
The Georgian Church also stresses that a great attack has begun on the Church and national values. Attempts are being made to insult and question values so people would lose their identity and hope—all done under the guise of good.
“There’s a certain force that seems to be very worried about the authority of the Church, the love of the people for the Lord, and traditional values,” the statement reads.
The Patriarchate considers it no coincidence that the film is scheduled to be shown in Georgia against the background of events developing after the scandalous meeting of the Holy Synod on October 31, when Bishop Petre (Tsaava) accused the Catholicos-Patriarch Ilia II of patronizing sodomy, for which he was deprived of the dignity of Metropolitan and expelled from the Synod.
The statement also notes that there was a plan to link the plot of the film with the legendary Georgian dance ensemble Sukhishvili, though this failed. Nino Sukhishvili, the director of the group, earlier said that Georgian dance reflects masculinity, as well as love and respect for women.
Thus, as the Patriarchate notes, an attack and pressure of an international scale began against the leadership of Sukhishvili.
The film took 7th place at the Cannes Film Festival, and the American magazine W included actor Levan Gelbakhiani in the list of 15 film stars of the festival.
“Of course, all this, first of all, is done in order to change the consciousness of our people, to drown out the negative charge in society regarding LGBT relations, and ultimately to achieve the legitimization of this sin,” the statement reads.
The director Akin himself admits that his film is an attempt to change the country: “I made this film with love and compassion. It is my love letter to Georgia and to my heritage. With this story I wanted to reclaim and redefine Georgian culture to include all not just some. But unfortunately these are the dark times we live in and the pending protests just prove how vital it is to stand up against these shadowy forces in any way we can.”
The Georgian Church has consistently stood for Orthodox values, while decrying any violence against minorities. For example, the Patriarchate called on authorities to block an LGBT event in June while at the same time calling on the clergy and faithful to refrain from any aggressive anti-LGBT statements or actions.