TIFF Next Wave 2020: Our Review of ‘And Then We Danced’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF Next Wave 2020 by - February 06, 2020
TIFF Next Wave 2020: Our Review of ‘And Then We Danced’

And Then We Danced is a prime example of 2010s international queer cinema, engaging itself within its’ protagonists’ perspective. That protagonist is Merab (Levan Gelbakhiani), a member of a traditional Georgian dance company. He finds himself under criticism for not dancing like a ‘monument,’ hint hint. Enter Irakli (Bachi Valishvili).

Irakli dances with the masculinity that’s desirable to the company’s traditional values. Threatening enough, sure, but there are signs, like an earring, that show a subversive nature. The story, then, captures the fluctuating nature of male on male gaze. Merab sees Irakli both as competition and, possibly, as a lover.

This story serves as a diptych for both male characters but it equally pay attention to their country, Georgia. It exquisitely uses folk music that the older generations perform for their younger counterparts. And the camera pays attention to their bodies with or without this music.

Characters lean on each other, listening to the lyrics that only they understand. Most of the stories we see outside of Western world have a component where they must explain themselves to us. But instead, this provides a window into a man and a nation sharing their pain without having to explain everything.

Gay male stories sometimes sandbag its female characters but thankfully we see none of that here. Merab and his female dance partner Mary (Ana Javakishvili) have a long history. And the characters around them expect them to eventually marry. She then carries the burden of his secret with him.

This story makes us understand that Georgia is a hostile place for gay men. That’s also true for people there who are gender fluid. Nonetheless, Mary helps him during harder times. There’s enough focus on here here to show us that people within the queer umbrella aren’t dancing on their own.

And Then We Danced screens twice this month at TIFF. It screens for the first time tonight at 7:30 as part of Inside Out’s monthly presentations. The second time as part of their Next Wave Festival. For more information go to https://insideout.ca/events/inside-out-presents-and-then-we-danced/ and https://tiff.net/events/and-then-we-danced.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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