Sunday, April 26, 2009
|2:00 p.m.||City of Borders|
Yun Suh (U.S./Israel/Palestine, 2009)
Yun Suh in Person
The Israel-Palestine conflict is seen anew through a rainbow of sexual identity in this heartfelt documentary centered on the diverse denizens of Jerusalem’s lone gay bar, a haven of unity amid the region’s seemingly eternal clash of cultures and religious strife. Presided over by tenacious proprietor Sa’ar, who serves as the film’s political conscience and is also the first openly gay man elected to public office in the Holy City, Shushan is a colorful nexus of community engagement, hands-in-the-air dancing and late-night flirting, and a safe space for queers of all backgrounds to congregate. “It was like finding fresh water in the middle of the desert,” a bar regular marvels. Among Shushan’s patrons are Jewish Israeli doctor Ravit, whose relationship with Palestinian Israeli nurse Samira earns a double “oy vey” from her mother; and Boody, a devout Muslim Palestinian who receives death threats in his West Bank hometown of Ramallah, where his flamboyant drag queen persona, Miss Haifa, isn’t welcome, and whose no-nonsense mother prays daily for her son not to be gay (before her own closeted identity is revealed). First-time feature director Yun Suh deftly balances the many dichotomies with which her remarkably candid subjects must contend as they bravely shun societal mandates and cut through barbed wire fences in pursuit of self.
• Written by Suh. Photographed by Karin Thayer, Robin McKenna. (66 mins)
Tongzhi in Love (Ruby Yang, U.S., 2008). In Ruby Yang’s visually stunning short, a candid trio of alternately serious and campy young men discuss the difficulties and covert thrills of gay life in modern-day China, where family ties and cultural traditions challenge formations of sexual identity. (30 mins)
• (Total running time: 96 mins)