I’ve noted in the past that LGBT films over time have leaned heavily on “coming out” plots and makes up the majority of these stories. Yes, And Then We Danced is another story in that vein. But, one can sense the danger in making Akin’s film, particularly in Georgia. I don’t like to know much about the behind-the-scenes process when reviewing films, because what you knew behind the camera should not influence my feelings about what’s on the screen. But telling a story like this in the United States is vastly different than telling it in a former Soviet state. For Akin, locations suddenly became unavailable when managers discovered the film’s subject matter. Actors and dancers pulled out or demanded anonymity because of the controversial storyline. But at the same time, there are those associated with the film, who stood behind its message at considerable personal and professional risk.
“His romance with Valishvili builds slowly and resembles the teen crushes of our youth.”
Political and social justice does not make a movie, though. And Then We Danced works because of a tender and heartfelt performance by Levan Gelbakhiani, who is not-too-shabby of a dancer himself. He is in 100 percent of the film and you’re immediately drawn to his face and personality. He makes an instant connection with audiences. His romance with Valishvili builds slowly and resembles the teen crushes of our youth. Lastly, Gelbakhiani’s character arc plays out brilliantly to the end, not only when it comes to falling in love, but ultimately expressing his true self and unapologetically incorporating it into his life and dance amidst pressure to keep it hidden.
Several years ago, Georgia’s first pride parade ended in a violent riot, when confronted with an overwhelming homophobic mob. Ironically, this mirrors the mob violence and public discrimination portrayed in the film. It continued, when And Then We Danced screened in Georgia to a flurry of protests, intimidation, and death threats. Gelbakhiani’s Merab is the first of many stones thrown to tearing the walls of homophobia globally. And’s Merab is the first of many stones thrown to tearing the walls of homophobia globally. And Then We Danced ends on a cautious but hopeful note for LGBT rights.
And Then We Danced screened at the 2019 AFI Fest and the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
"…locations suddenly became unavailable when managers discovered the film’s subject matter."