Arrests as hundreds of homophobes storm gay film premiere

georgia protesters gay film and then we danced europe
Photo: Twitter

Hundreds of far-right homophobes swarmed a cinema in Georgia to protest the premiere of new gay romance film And Then We Danced.

The Swedish-Georgian co-production is a coming-of-age story filmed in the former Soviet republic and billed as a “gay romance” between two young male Georgian ballet dancers.

A handful of Georgian cinemas scheduled screenings of the film over three days. Though tickets sold out quickly, churches and far-right groups variously slammed the film as “sinful” and “gay propaganda”.

Then on the night of the first screenings, hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police outside a cinema in capital city Tbilisi.

The protesters tried to force their way inside the theatre as ticketholders tried to enter. They also reportedly set fire to a rainbow flag and hurled firecrackers and smoke bombs at the entrance.

Georgian police arrested 25 protesters during the clashes in Tbilisi. Two police officers and a young journalist were injured.

Police charged most of them with disobeying police orders and hooliganism, Civil Georgia reported.

Georgia is a former Soviet republic located at the intersection of Europe and Asia. While homosexuality is legal in the country, same-sex relationships are largely taboo.

And Then We Danced director speaks out about Georgia protests

Before the protests, And Then We Danced‘s director Levan Akin wrote on Facebook he was proud cinemas hadn’t cancelled the screenings.

“I am so inspired and moved by the brave moviegoers who stood their ground and would not be intimidated,” Akin said.

“It’s absurd that people 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. 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. The pending protests just prove how important it is to stand up against these shadowy forces in any way we can.”

And Then We Danced won critical acclaim after its worldwide premiere at the Cannes Film festival in May.

Sweden recently chose the film as their official submission for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film at next year’s Oscars.

Watch the trailer below:

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