Fri 11/10 19:00

Martyr (Opening film)

Dir. Mazen Khaled | 84 min | 2017 | Fiction

Lebanon | Arabic with Eng subs

Premiere: 74th Venice International Film Festival

The strange drowning of a young man at Beirut’s seaside sparks a mob funeral and causes his friends, who hail from different communities, to grapple with loss and with the struggle to participate in his community’s rites and ceremonies. The life and death journey that the young man takes on the last day of his life exposes the schisms of the city and the fault lines dividing its society, and reveals some of the forces pushing the lives of those marginalized young men. In Islamic tradition, drowning is considered grounds for Martyrdom. What does that word really mean? Is it an effort to console a bereaved family and preclude its grief? Is it an empty attempt by a marginalized group to evoke heroism and mythology in order to compensate in death for what they never achieved in life? In this film, raw verité images intermingle with abstract scenes to present us with a world where the lines separating reality from fiction, authenticity from fabrication, have ceased to exist.

Director

Mazen Khaled was born in Beirut, Lebanon. After a period spent in policy analysis and research, he moved to Advertising where he wrote and directed TV ads as part of his work as creative director. He is also one of the founders of EXIST, an arts collective in Beirut. "Martyr" is his second feature film.

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Sat 12/10 21:00

Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life

Dir. Tomer Heymann | 106 min | 2018 | Documentary

Israel | Hebrew and English with Eng subs

Premiere: Jerusalem Film Festival

When Jonathan Agassi arrived on the gay porn scene, in the 2000s, a new superstar of adult entertainment had arrived. He was hot, hard, playful and loved sex. Propelled into fame by Michael Lucas, Agassi was sometimes at odds with an industry that demanded a certain type of masculinity (Agassi is also known for his inclusion in Michael Lucas’s porno-propaganda Men of Israel). The film finds Agassi splitting his time between Tel Aviv and Berlin, surviving through paid appearances and escorting. But amidst the thrill of hedonism is a pain that can’t be satisfied through sex or drugs. With his ever-loving mother by his side, Jonathan Agassi Saved My Life is a searing and shocking documentary, handled with sensitivity by master documentarian Tomer Heymann, never shying away from the reality of what it means to live constantly in the extreme.

Director

Tomer Heymann was born in Kfar Yedidia in Israel in 1970 and has directed many documentary films and series in the past ten years. His films won major awards at different film festivals including his first film “It Kinda Scares Me” and "Mr. Gaga" from 2015. His feature “Paper Dolls” won three awards at the Berlinale in 2006 including the Panorama Audience Award. Tomer's new 8-part series "The Way Home" was recently broadcasted by the Yes Doco Channel in Israel and won the best documentary series award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival.

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Sat 12/10 19:00

They

Dir. Anahita Ghazvinizadeh | 80 min | 2017 | Fiction

USA, Qatar, Iran | English and Persian with Eng subs

Premiere: 70th Cannes Film Festival

Fourteen-year-old non-binary teenager J lives in the suburbs of Chicago. Unsure of their gender identity, J uses the pronoun “they” and has been taking hormone blockers to postpone the onset of puberty. Unfortunately, after a visit to their doctor, J learns that the hormones are starting to have concerning effects on their health. After two years of therapy and treatment, J has reached a turning point: they must decide whether or not to continue on their hormone treatment and what path to take with their gender identity. As they face these decisions, J’s sister Lauren and Lauren’s boyfriend, Azaz, arrive to look after J while their parents are out of town for a long weekend. Iranian-born filmmaker Anahita Ghazvinizadeh crafts a beguiling, thoughtful drama that sensitively explores a unique turning point in a teenager’s self-realization.

Director

Anahita Ghazvinizadeh was born in 1989 in Tehran and got her BFA in cinema from Tehran University of Art. In 2013 her short "Needle" won the Cinéfondation’s prize for Best Student Film at the Cannes Film Festival. The filmmaker was selected as one of the 25 New Faces of Independent filmmaking by the Filmmaker Magazine, and was in the list of 20 rising female filmmakers by IndieWire in 2017. She has been mentored by filmmakers such as Jane Campion and Abbas Kiarostami. "They" is her first feature film.

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Sun 13/10 21:00

Room for a Man

Dir. Anthony Chidiac | 77 min | 2018 | Documentary

Lebanon | Arabic and French with Eng subs

Premiere: Montreal International Documentary Festival

Young gay Lebanese filmmaker Anthony Chidiac explores identity and family history, first through discussions with the Syrian builders refurbishing the Beirut apartment he shares with his mother; then by travelling to Argentina with his formerly estranged father. The documentary is a hypnotic personal essay that meditates on masculinity, sexuality and a lifelong quest for acceptance. In carefully composed shots of his immediate surroundings, reflections on moments in his life, conversations with the Syrian builders who are renovating his house, and a trip with his father to Argentina, Chidiac constructs an intriguing self-portrait. Insecure as he might be about his own identity, his documentary debut is remarkably self-assured.

Director

Anthony Chidiac was born in Beirut in 1988. He graduated from St. Joseph University with a BA in Audiovisual Studies with his diploma short film KFARHANEM’S INN, screened on MTV Lebanon and on the BBC Arabic program ‘Alternative Cinema’. In 2010, Anthony participated in a collaboration between The National Film School in Denmark and the Screen Institute Beirut in which he shot the documentary EQUAL MEN in Copenhagen. "Room for a Man" is his first feature film.

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Mon 14/10 20:00

The Wedding (closing film)

Dir. Sam Abbas | 75 min | 2018 | Fiction

Egypt | English OV

Premiere: Theatrical release in Egypt

Rami, a young Muslim man, is preparing for his wedding with Sara while fulfilling a queer sexuality in secret due to a strict religious and cultural upbringing.

The film is the debut feature from director and screenwriter Sam Abbas who plays the protagonist in the story. Born in Egypt but raised in New Jersey, Abbas based the story closely on his own life. Indeed when it was released, his family did not even know about the film, turning the episode into one of the most unusual coming-out declarations in history.

The Wedding is the inaugural production from ArabQ, a boutique operation dedicated to promoting queer cinema and LGBT filmmakers from the Middle East. The company is bravely headquartered in Egypt, despite the risks associated with promoting gay rights in such a conservative Islamic society, where even waving a rainbow flag can lead to an arrest.

Director

Sam Abbas was born in 1993 in Egypt and has been working as film director, screenwriter, actor and producer since his debut with the short film "Time to Come" (2016). In the following year he produced the queer short "Lavender" (2018) which was screened at SXSW and at the Sundance Film Festival. Last year, he made waves at the Berlinale with the launch of his production company, ArabQ Films, the first Arab-based production house solely dedicated to providing a platform for queer narratives within the Muslim and Middle Eastern communities. "The Wedding" is his first feature.

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Fri 11/10 21:00

Shorts Program 1 (88 mins)


 

3 Centimetres

Four Lebanese girls go on a Ferris wheel ride to make their friend feel better about her breakup. Their conversation drifts to a less fun place.

Dir. Lara Zeidan | 9 m

Lebanon | Arabic with Eng subs

Half A Life

After a traumatic encounter, a young Egyptian guy joins the LGBT rights movement. When his safety is jeopardized, he must choose whether to stay in the country he loves or seek asylum elsewhere as a refugee.

Dir. Tamara Shogaolu | 12 m

Egypt | Arabic with Eng subs

Life in Darkness

A young man wakes up on his birthday in Mosul only to deal with destruction in his relationship, as well as in his homeland.

Dir. Ali Raheem | 9 m

Iraq | Arabic with Eng subs

Hard Shadow

A transgender woman is getting ready for her date when a message arrives and changes everything.

Dir. Neda Khanifar | 3 m

Iran | Persian with Eng subs

Ablution

The bond between a disabled Muslim father and his son is tested when love is pitted against religion.

Dir. Omar Al Dakheel | 15 m

United States | English and Arabic with Eng subs

Breakup in 9 Scenes

How does one live disappointment? What is the physical action associated with it?The film is an experimental essay as a response to a breakup message.

Dir. Leil Zahra Mortada | 15 m

Lebanon, Germany | English OV

Night of Love

Yonatan abandons the army in an attempt to reunite with his ex-boyfriend. After it turns into a failure, he finds himself alone in Tel Aviv, without a place to sleep. Broken and confused, he goes on a wild night’s journey looking for consolation.

Dir. Omri Loukas | 25 min

Israel | Hebrew and English with Eng subs

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Sun 13/10 19:00

Shorts Program 2 (94 mins)


Marco

When a banker invites a male sex worker to his apartment in London, he finds himself coming face to face with both his own past, and one of the world's largest humanitarian crises.

Dir. Saleem Haddad | 22 min

UK, Iraq | English and Arabic with Eng subs

Tonight

Tom comes over to meet her girlfriend’s group of friends for the first time. As the evening unfolds, she is confronted with the nature of this relationship.

Dir. Emily Shir Segal | 14 mins

Israel | Hebrew with Eng subs

Set Me As a Seal Upon Thine Heart

A gay sauna encounter between a young man and an older man becomes an unexpected lesson about love.

Dir. Omer Tobi | 13m

Israel | Hebrew with Eng subs

Chromophobia

The journey of a man who is ostracized by society for simply being who he is and how he will manifest himself in the end to defend his life and his freedom.

Dir. Bassem Ben Brahim | 6 min

Tunisia | No dialogues

You Deserve Everything

A doctor's tentative romance with the hospital's Arabic interpreter is evolving into something deeper. But everything is not as it seems.

Dir. Goran Stolevski | 18 m

Australia | English OV

Run(a)Way Arab

Nazem, a queer Egyptian-Iraqi drag-queen, prepares for a performance informed by childhood memories of her mother.

Dir. Amrou Al-Kadhi | 12 min

Egypt, UK | Arabic with Eng subs

Parking

While stealing, a man encounters two men who are having sex in the back seat of a parked car. They are forced to tolerate all the verbal and physical humiliations by the thief and give him whatever he wants.

Dir. Ahmad Seyfipour | 9 m

Iran | Persian with Eng subs

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