And Then We Danced
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And Then We Danced

And Then We Danced the Georgian folk dancer is an image of masculine stereotype. His movements are martial, And Then We Danced virile; they simulate war, hunting, and the courtship of his beloved. Often accoutered with a double-edged dagger, he personifies the small, proud nation’s history and traditions. So when the Swedish-Georgian director Levan Akin arrived in Tbilisi to shoot the country’s first explicitly queer feature film, a coming-of-age story about a traditional dancer, he was met with not a little hostility. The Sukhishvili Georgian National Ballet, the country’s principal dance ensemble, wanted nothing to do with the project. The rights holders to a number of old folk-song recordings refused to coöperate with the film; Akin rerecorded the songs with new artists, many of whom, along with the lead choreographer, declined to be named in the credits. The casting manager received death threats, and the production company retained bodyguards for the crew. Securing locations was so challenging that some scenes had to be shot on the fly, with many roles filled by non-professional actors, lending the film a neorealist aspect. If anyone asked, Akin resorted to lying about the plot: it was, he’d say, about a French tourist who comes to Georgia and falls in love with the culture.

“And Then We Danced” celebrates Georgia’s rich cultural heritage while reclaiming it for a broader demographic—for Georgians like Merab, who have been a part of it all along. One particular scene in the film is executed with such understatement that, on my first viewing, I completely missed its import. Merab is rehearsing in front of a mirror. In another room, offscreen but within earshot, a conversation is unfolding on the subject of a young couple who, following an accidental pregnancy, have agreed to marry—in two days’ time, to “save the girl’s honor.” An older woman’s voice is heard evincing disapproval of an ethnically mixed marriage. “I heard she’s Armenian,” she says. “It could be true.” “Jesus Christ,” a younger voice retorts. “Who cares if it is?”

Duration: 113 min

Release:

IMDb: 7.8