Wednesday, July 15, 2009

city of borders

i mentioned before that there wasn't much in the Q fest program that the really jumped out at me. the exception was city of borders (imdb), a film that i saw tonight.

"city" is a documentary about the gay community in jerusalem, a mixture of jews and palestinians whose social life centers around shushan, the only gay bar in the holy city. the people who frequent the bar are a diverse lot. other than their homosexuality they don't have very much in common. there's boody, a palestinian from ramallah who illegally sneaks across the border into israel to partake in gay culture and to perform as a drag queen at the bar. there's samira and ravit, a palestinian-israeli lesbian couple, whose relationship has to struggle with religious differences, the politics of occupation, and disagreements over whether to have children. there's adam, a young gay man who proudly lives on a settlement and, aside from his views on homosexuality, seems a bit more to the right than everyone else. nevertheless adam was stabbed during the 2005 jerusalem gay pride parade by a black hat fundamentalist. and then there's sa’ar netanel, owner of the shushan and also the first openly gay member of the israeli city council, a body controlled by the ultra-religious of various denominations who have nothing in common other than their hostility to gay people.

the documentary was interesting, but not great. it's greatest strength is the source material, which is inherently compelling. if anything there may have been too much source material. all of the characters were interesting, but i felt like i didn't see enough of any of them. i can see how the filmmaker would get caught up in the myriad of divisions brought out at shushan, which is both a microcosm of israeli society and very much marginal to it. but none of those divisions are fleshed out as much as they could have been. the film is definitely worth seeing. but the end felt like a lot was missing. i left the theater feeling that it could have been better.

(if you're interested, the trailer is here)