72nd Festival de Cannes and a Successful Premiere of Levan Akin
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Festival in Media
2019-05-21

"Is it a coincidence that a premiere is held on May 17?" - asks Gogi Gvakharia, a journalist from "Radio Liberty" during the interview at Festival de Cannes to Levan Akin, a Swedish-Georgian director. "No, it's not a coincidence. We asked the festival organizers that the film premiere was held on May 17 if there would be any possibility, and it happened so."

At the 72nd Festival de Cannes, in the section of Director's Fortnight, Levan Akin's film "And Then We Danced" was screened. The poster of the film presented among 25 works, was printed on the cover of SCREEN Magazine. The film premiere was followed by a huge outcry at the festival, and huge applauses - with positive reviews in press: Indie Wire, The Hollywood Reporter, Screen Daily, Liberation etc. Of course, a successful premiere was not missed from the sight of Georgian journalists, covering the world's most famous film festival from the French Riviera.

Levan Akin is one of the interesting figures of Swedish cinema. He's an author of several successful films and TV shows. In 2011, at Stockholm Film Festival, his film Certain People (Katinkas Kalas) was premiered, followed by a positive response from the press. At the 12th Tbilisi International Film Festival, his short film The Last Things (De Sista Sakenma) was screened, which got a main prize at Hamburg International Short Film Festival. Akin's films are about looking for one's self, culture clashes and class differences.

As Levan notes, And Then We Danced is not a gay movie. It is film about being young and wanting to find yourself, understanding, what the traditions mean. "I think, that that Georgian and European audience will see this film in different ways. Georgian people may see the other layers in it. For me, this film is sort of a love letter to Georgia." As he says, with this film, he's back to his roots, to the story where the life of film characters and the situation in the country are tangled, where occupation, drug policy and social background makes up one big picture. This film is about freedom we all need so much. "When I saw a heroic action of the youth in 2013, who were threatened by a huge crowd, I understood that I must have made something about that."

The protagonist of the film is Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani), a member of Georgian folk dance ensemble. Mari (Ana Javakhishvili) is his partner and lover. They are dancing together for 10 years already. Dancers were Merab's grandmother and father, who's selling secondhand car parts to earn a living. A life of Merab changes when a new member - Irakli (Bachi Valishvili) comes to the ensemble. A rivalry started between these two continues in free love scenes.

"There was no support from Georgia. We were even sabotaged by the people and organizations taking money from EU institutions for promoting democracy. They just said - piss off." - says the director in the interview. As it seems, the working cast came across big difficulties. Besides the fact that many people refused to work with them because of the script, many shooting locations were also blocked for them. An interesting fact is that a leading actor Levan Gelbakhiani himself refused to take part in the movie several times (whose great performance was mentioned many times in foreign press): "It was not easy to agree on playing such role in such film. I have so many people beside me, my family, friends, relatives, who would have to answer many awkward questions. Due to our society, where hatred and violence has become almost an everyday basis, even my security was to be considered. I was asking myself one question all the time - will I survive or not? But then I understood that it was a chance, not only for my career goals but also to talk about problem existing in Georgia." - told the actor in the interview with Cinemania.

Award Daily wrote about cinematography and lead actor performace: "Lisabi Fridell's cinematography not only captures the striking rhythm, vigor and flair of Georgian dance but also the pulse of contemporary city life in the Caucasian metropolis. Gelbakhiani delivers a beautiful lead performance, impressive both for his physical command of the challenging dance movements and for expressions of all that's mystifying, uplifting and devastating about first love. Queer cinema has been enjoying such a boom in recent years sometimes it feels like we've seen it all by now. But the thing is, we need cinema that tells stories about the human experience, that helps us imagine people continents and cultures away going through the same struggles, feel what they feel. In this regard, And Then We Danced is perceptive, compassionate and above all filmmaking."

Screen Daily paid attention to the topic of the movie: "Georgian dance is not just codified and muscular, it is, as a powerful ballet administrator puts it, "the spirit of the nation." A nation that has zero tolerance for homosexuality."

"I was afraid that "And Then We Danced" will share a fortune of Georgian-American production "5 Days of August" at cannes, an extremely primitive speculation no one remembers today", - wrote Gogi Gvakharia on the Radio Liberty web page, - "The threat was huge, the risk of speculation with unpunished, everyday growing homophobia in Georgia, playing with feelings of the audience - especially Western audience, of creating new myths about savage Georgians, who can't manage to free from wild Georgian culture. But it turned out that ‘And Then We Danced' is a film where homophobia is not a main theme, or the only theme. It turned out that Levan Akin made a film about the time, so to say, the "transitional time", where the old and the new don't fight, they try to reach into each other; when the young people try to get into the culture instead of destroying it. Of course they are oppressed, they are beaten, threatened, advised to leave the country, but they still dance. And they do it much better than the ones pushing them to the old, to the dying."

 

 

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