Category Archives: Boston LGBT Film Festival

“A PLACE TO BE” (“EN ALGUN LUGAR”)— Love and Immigration

 

“A PLACE TO BE” (“En Algun Lugar”)

Love and Immigration

Amos Lassen

Writer-director Tadeo Garcia brings us a powerful love story set against the controversial U.S. immigration system. Both Abel (Nelson A. Rodriguez), who works in Chicago in social services, and Diego (Andrew L. Saenz), an auto mechanic, have waited a long time for the love they have both wanted. After several meetings by chance, the two finally hook up and quickly fall deeply in love with each other.

However, Diego has a secret: he’s an undocumented immigrant and has tried several times to get American citizenship but has not succeeded. When he learns that his mother is dying, Diego must decide whether or not to take the risk of a trip back to Mexico, knowing that he will possibly not be able to return to America and Abel. He also worries how Abel will react when he learns that he is undocumented.

Abel and Diego discover the power of love during uncertain times. Director Tadeo Garcia chose a loose translation “A Place to Be” for his film since it reflects Diego’s journey to become an American citizen and the director’s his own journey. The film became very timely very quickly.

The film is a look at what being undocumented is like—the pressures and situations undocumented people face. People are in those situations every day, and some people get the wrong idea about the undocumented and have these stereotypes. This is a real community, with people of different backgrounds, different levels of education and it’s a very diverse community.

“TO A MORE PERFECT UNION: U.S. V WINDSOR”— Our Heroines, Our Story

“To a More Perfect Union: U.S. v Windsor”

Our Heroines

Amos Lassen

“To A More Perfect Union: U.S. v Windsor” is a feature-length documentary that is a love story, story of marriage and a fight for equality. The film looks at unlikely heroes — octogenarian Edie Windsor and her attorney, Roberta Kaplan, on their journey for justice. Edie had been forced to pay a huge estate tax bill upon the death of her spouse, a woman, because the federal government denied federal benefits to same-sex couples She was deeply offended by this lack of recognition of her more than forty-year relationship with her partner, the love of her life and so she decided to sue the United States government and won. Windsor and Kaplan’s legal and personal journeys are told in their own words and through interviews with others of the legal team, movement activists, legal analysts, well-known supporters and opponents. This is more than the story of this pivotal case in the marriage equality movement and the stories behind it, it is our story, our journey as a people and as a culture.

“A MOMENT IN THE REEDS”— Coming Home

“A Moment in the Reeds”

Coming Home

Amos Lassen

Having moved to Paris for university, Leevi returns to his native Finland for the summer to help his estranged father renovate the family lake house so it can be sold. Tareq, a recent asylum seeker from Syria, has been hired to help with the work, and when Leevi’s father has to return to town on business, the two young men establish a connection and spend a few days discovering one another during the Finnish midsummer. The story of shared youth is the debut film by Finnish director Mikko Makela, and is part of the Finland’s first wave of LGBT films.

Finland has long been known as an open-minded society and it is often envied by other societies around the globe. We see this in Finland’s recent policy of welcoming refugees during the migratory crisis. However, I understand that this is the first Finnish feature film that has been released with a homosexual character in the main role. It is interesting that this year also saw the release of “Tom of Finland” which was Finland’s entry for the 2018 Academy Awards.

Leevi (Janne Puustinen) is studying literature in Paris but returns home for the holidays to see his father, his only remaining relative after the death of his mother, and to help him renovate their isolated holiday cottage, which sits on the edge of a beautiful lake. The incompatibility of Leevi’s bohemian aspirations and his father’s conservatism is immediately obvious and Leevi announces his plans to escape Finnish military service by requesting French nationality upsetting his father.

Leevi is joined by Tareq (Boodi Kabbani), a Syrian architect taking refuge in Finland and who is employed by Leevi’s father to help them renovate the house. Despite the geographical distance that has separated them for the majority of their lives, Tareq’s concerns are very similar to Leevi’s. He comes from a very conservative environment and is a homosexual who can’t find his place in the family home. Through the silences that punctuate their trivial conversations, an intimate relationship gradually develops between Tareq and Leevi during the prolonged absences of Leevi’s father.

Director Makela decided to create the majority of dialogue after filming had commenced thus giving the actors a great deal of freedom, to improvise their conversations in most of the scenes. The film also has a surprising naturalism and simplicity. Leevi and Tareq speak in rough English, which is not their mother tongue and this reflects a modern-day reality that we very rarely see on screen— the use of English as a common language for the international younger generation. The importance of phones and social networks is also presented in a very convincing way as a language that is shared by both young men. 

The film finds its strength and vitality in the portrait of this youth. Here are today’s two young people who, despite their different origins, understand each other, share concerns, worries and the same way of experiencing their sexuality within their families and online.

This is an ambitious film that deals with three important societal issues: the migratory crisis, the father-son relationship problem, and Finnish conservatism. Tareq is polite and educated: he used to be an architect in Syria. He’s the opposite of the prejudiced view that refugees are unschooled and dangerous. He’s the type the immigrant that xenophobes do not want to think about and he’s more intelligent than most bigots. The film succeeds at conveying a message of tolerance and diversity, reminding us discrimination is plain wrong.

The film is a totally believable tale of two men thrown together by chance, forging an instant, deep connection with each other across the space of a few days. There are those who will immediately see the comparison of last year’s beautiful “God’s Own Country” that also dealt with a rural manual worker tasked with working alongside an immigrant. Leevi is

the first human connection Tareq has made since leaving Syria, and possibly the first meaningful connection Leevi has made in his dating life. There is a richness and an affecting tenderness to the relationship between the two and it develops believably; we see a warm companionship that slowly grows into something more.

There’s also a believable awkwardness between the pair’s early encounters. Their speaking English when talking to each other shows the alien nature of communicating in their second language is wonderfully downplayed by both leads; at certain points, their lack of fluency leads them to be more emotionally direct. At other moments, it causes them to underplay their emotions entirely so they don’t say the wrong thing. Both lead performers convey this awkwardness with beautifully, making it all the more thrilling as it slowly develops to intimacy and increased emotional honesty between the two.

The two young men have to deal with the closeted homophobia and xenophobia of Leevi’s dad (Mika Melender), whose quiet prejudice is all the more hurtful as it hides in plain sight – his actions offering an insightful look at the sad reality of how refugees are disregarded by members of Western society. It makes the love shown elsewhere feel all the more powerful in comparison. And yes, this is a tender film but it is also a sexy film.

The screenplay spends so much time slowly developing these characters and their relationship that when they eventually have sex it feels every bit as emotional as it does physical. Every sex scene may seem long but never gratuitous; it feels loving because of the connection shown so believably between the two elsewhere. The mark of two fine acting performances is that even in the physical, passionate moments, they portray emotions every bit as successfully as in the lovelorn dialogue scenes. I predict that this will be one of the most loved LGBT movies of 2018.

“BERLIN DRIFTERS”— An Erotic Romance

“Berlin Drifters”

An Explicit Romance

Amos Lassen

Ryota travels to Berlin hoping for a long-term relationship with a man he met online. However, the German guy thinks differently and does not even let him stay the night, so he wanders around looking for love, while staying at a lonely Japanese man’s place. Adult director Koichi Imaizumi teams with Japan’s most prominent adult manga author for the year’s most explicit gay romance.

“Berlin Drifters” is an explicit, willfully confrontational romance that will split audiences down porn-versus-art lines while arguing whether the characters found what they were looking for. Two Japanese men in Berlin are seeking connections in their own ways, and in doing so come together and drift apart over the course of a few lusty weeks.

“Berlin Drifters” brings together Asian and European eroticists, from Dutch porn star Michael Selvaggio and German self-described erotic photographer Claude Kolz to Chinese LGBT activist and dramatist Xiaogang Wei. We also have Japanese gay erotica artist Gengoroh Tagame who can be best described as Japan’s Tom of Finland. The XXX-rated nature of “Berlin Drifters” will keep it out of mainstream cinemas and even the most permissive of festivals and this is unfortunate but the film is indeed out there.

When the guy he flew from Tokyo to Berlin to see throws young Ryota (Lyota Majima) out of his apartment after they have sex, Ryota finds himself crashing at an underground sex club, having little in the way of accommodation options. He was convinced that his online fling was true love and is not prepared to be homeless.

After having a drink with his artist friend Xioagang at the same bar, Koichi (director Imaizumi) takes pity on Ryota and offers to let him stay at his place. Ryota is overly thankful and cleans, shops, offers sex and the two men settle into an odd domesticity. But eventually Ryota’s Grindr account calls to him and he starts to see other men. However, Koichi is becoming attached, and jealousy enters the relationship.

There is a good deal of narrative control this film “Berlin Drifters” and it is made more vivid by Tagame’s entry into screenwriting. His usual extremes of sexuality and masculinity are very much as are insights regarding acceptance and the stigmas surrounding homosexuality in Japan. We see a Berlin that is wild, tempting and ideal for the naïve Ryota, who’s sure he’s going to find great love in 48 hours. At the same time, it’s a safe haven, where Koichi can hide from the troubled past the ignored phone calls that hint at and contemplate how much he values an equally troubled prior relationship. Ryota and Koichi are fine as travelers on the same road, coming from different directions.

There is a lot of sex to get past all the sex and the production values could be better but the film is basically sweet and traditional and has heart. Imaizumi and Tagame are, ironically, meticulous in their use of sex, with the most emotionally rewarding segments as blatantly free of full-frontal nudity as the rest of the film is chock full of it. Koichi’s reunion with his old boyfriend Mioo and a farewell with Xiaogang are as affecting as they are pointed, as is Ryota’s slow understanding that he may be looking for true love in all the wrong ways.

“THE GENIUS AND THE OPERA SINGER”— Mother and Daughter

“The Genius and the Opera Singer”

Mother and Daughter

Amos Lassen

“The Genius and the Opera Singer” is a documentary that is set in a claustrophobic penthouse apartment in New York’s West Village. Ruth and her daughter Jessica have shared this apartment for more than fifty years and we see the emotional territory of a parental relationship stuck somewhere between the past and the present. Once an aspiring opera singer, Ruth is now 92-years-old and housebound. She relies on her 55-year-old daughter, Jessica and her sometimes live-in partner, Robert. Jessica is intelligent, high-strung, and confrontational and she feels that her life has perhaps not unfolded quite as she’d planned. This is because her mother spent her formative years neglecting her in favor of pursing glamour. Ruth has been found to be officially ‘incompetent’ by the city of New York and therefore not allowed to live independently.

Vanessa Stockley’s film depicts one of the most uncomfortable, grueling, and revealing mother-daughter relationships ever seen on film. In the very first scene, we see Jessica bringing her dog, Miss Angelina Jolie, into a branch of the New York Police Department to yell at an officer and reignite a grudge match that has been going since the pooch pooped on the station floor. We immediately see that Jessica has an addiction for confrontation. After this, we go into the rent-controlled apartment where we see Jessica’s temperamental social skills in full force. Jessica scored a legal victory by getting Ruth freed from her care facility where she had been sent by the city. Jessica explains how authorities had declared Ruth “incompetent” and forced her into a nursing home—a decision of which neither mother nor daughter approved. Ruth is a former opera singer of modest success (or no success, in Jessica’s mind), and she hangs unto the memories and beauty of her youth. Jessica is bitter that she, a genius and child prodigy (or underachiever, in Ruth’s estimation), never had the opportunity to fulfill her potential because of her mother being totally into herself.

We watch as over the course of a few days, mother and daughter provoke one another to assign blame for their dissatisfied lives. They bring out the worst in each other and they both know the right buttons to push to get the other going. Jessica who fought to preserve her mother’s sanity; now seems intent to destroy it now that they’re back under the same roof.

This is not an enjoyable movie to watch but we are amazed at the amount of courage director Stockley has to even have attempted to make this film. As I watched with a sense of disgust, I was also stunned by what I saw. The arguing goes on and on and it is mean-spirited. However, the footage is powerful and not all of the things that mother and do together and terrible. We see the devotion that connects the subjects as Jessica tends to her mother because she acknowledges her responsibility to the woman who raised her. There is obvious manipulation in Jessica’s nursing, but there is also care and family ties that keep them together.

“A BAG OF MARBLES”— Two Young Brothers

 

“A Bag of Marbles” (“Un Sac de Billes”)

Two Young Brothers

Amos Lassen

Christian Duguay’s “A Bag of Marbles” looks at a difficult period in modern French history. Two young brothers are forced to fend for themselves when the German occupation of France and subsequent persecution of Jews puts their lives in danger.   Maurice (Batyste Fleurial) and Joseph (Dorian Le Clech) leave their parents Roman (Patrick Bruel) and Anna ( Elza Zylberstein) behind in Vichy France and travel to Nice in the free-zone to join their older siblings Henri (César Domboy) and Albert (Ilian Bergala).  The family is soon reunited, but once again the German occupation separates Maurice and Joseph from their parents and brothers.  The two face possible capture and deportation before the family can come back together.

 

Director Christian Duguay emphasizes the sense of loss on both sides as the children flee the Nazi occupation. The film is a remake of the same title and it is a beautiful film that is based on a true story.

Maurice and Joseph are devoted to themselves and show an incredible amount of malice, courage and ingenuity to escape the enemy invasion and try to get reunited their families again. The two brothers  who are now in their 80’s are still Paris with their families.

One of the most important messages comes early on when a Jewish barber, the father of the family, stands up to a German soldier and speaks out while he is still able to do so. Jo is the youngest son of that barber. Over the last years of the war, Jo’s family (including his three older brothers) are repeatedly separated and reunited as they try to evade Nazi capture. With his smarts, his sometimes heartbreaking emotional bravery and a bit of plain luck, Jo survives under numerous assumed identities across the south of France, sometimes with his family and sometimes on his own. It’s a coming of age amidst the most harrowing crucible imaginable.

Even though we know Germany will be defeated and France regains her freedom, we are as overcome with joy as the characters are when it finally happens. Duguay uses his most disturbing footage to depict how the French treated collaborators after the war ended.

A Jew in hiding during World War II is someone who has to spend years without the simple privilege of being able to say who he is. As Duguay shows us, Jo never let himself forget.

“BYE BYE GERMANY”— Coming to America

“Bye Bye Germany” (“Es war einmal in Deutschland”)

Coming to America

Amos Lassen

The characters in Sam Garbarski’s “Bye Bye Germany”, live in a displaced persons camp near Frankfurt in 1946. David (Moritz Bleibtreu) is a Jewish peddler who was a successful wheeler and dealer before and during his time at a concentration camp. While he’s grateful for his liberty, he would enjoy it more with a lot of cash, and so he begins a scheme where he and his friends sell linens to local Germans at an outrageous markup. It’s a simple scam without guilt, since these very people were the same ones who favored David and his friends’ journey to the gas chamber, or at least pretended to be about what was really going on in their own country.

Over the course of the film, the characters have to examine their own pasts, what has happened to them and to their country, and wonder whether Germany is even their country anymore.

David recruits the other characters to join him in his scheme. The idea, of course, is to make enough money to leave Germany and head for America. And so this likeable group, filled with energy and audacity starts churning out curtains that are “made in Paris” and selling them to their German customers using a series of cynically comical methods, and rather visionary ones too in terms of marketing. 

Alongside these comical incidents, there is another plotline that is more solemn. Over the course of a series of interrogations, a young German Jew who emigrated to the United States shortly after 1933 (Antje Traue), who has come back to Germany to join the post-war effort, tries to establish, on the orders of the allied forces, whether or not David collaborated or not from his concentration camp, to survive there. Each plotline leads to a big twist of fate, which could be seen as positive or tragic, before David concludes by sparing a thought for the Jews who, like him, made the inexplicable choice to stay behind.

“HOUSE OF Z”— Zac Posen’s House of Style

 

“House of Z”

Zac Posen’s House of Style

Amos Lassen

Zac Posen, was barely a teenager when he started making dresses for friends and then drafted his entire family to help him launch a haute-couture business, the a House of Z. Immediate success caused growing demand and the stress plus Posen’s “enfant-terrible” persona was the cause of serious tension within the Posen household which led to a very public breakup.

Film director Sandy Chronopoulos had access to every member of the Posen family to and their video records from which she has constructed a compelling film that takes around the Posen’s Fall 2015 collection. This collection was considered to be Posen’s “make-it-or-break-it moment”. We also see the fascinating back story to Posen’s career. Posen is a gay, dyslexic outsider with a talent for fashion. His family supported his dream of becoming a designer and he launched in their Soho loft. His friendships with famous women, including Claire Danes and Natalie Portman, helped catapult him to fame. At just 21 years of age, his work was being talked about and The “New York Times” announced that he was a new star that must be watched. It did not take long before Posen’s dresses were being worn on red carpets everywhere. Hip-hop mogul Sean Combs joined his team and provided music for Posen’s fashion shows. As his fame and ego grew, so did the distance between him and his family. This affected his artistry and he was soon known as “the former boy wonder.” When Posen’s meteoric rise ended, he struggled with depression yet plotted a comeback and his friends were on his side. Posen is an exquisite craftsman and showman and filmgoers will love this look at him and this story of familial love, determination and redemption.

Posen documents himself throughout his young fashion career and we quickly understand that his rise in the New York fashion world was aided by privilege and connections. Posen first made waves in fashion during his time at the Brooklyn arts high school Saint Ann’s School, where he met New York fashion insiders like Paz de la Huerta and Claire Danes, and it was then that he began his entry into the competitive fashion world. Posen shares what it was like to grow up in a family that is wealthy and supportive of his talent. (He is the son of artist Stephen Posen based in an artistic Lower Manhattan neighborhood). Posen also enjoyed the early support from Vogue editor, Anna Wintour.

Posen’s talent for design and self-promotion were apparent even from an early age. After photographing his designs on friends like de la Huerta and Danes, he went to London to attend the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Even in these early stages of his career, it’s clear that Posen loves the spotlight, and we see how his brash personality and photogenic presence came together at the right time and greatly helped his meteoric rise in the fashion industry. After his first runway show in 2001 at the age of 21, we see Posen having already conquered the fashion world.

From there, the film follows a conventional rise-fall-redemption documentary structure, with Posen at a crossroads as the world deals with the fallout of the 2008 U.S. recession.. Posen is open about the creative, business, and personal mistakes he made during this stage of his life, and is compelling as always as an interview subject. But the missteps that he made during these collections are expected for anyone who find success at an early age and he did not suffer a profound existential crisis as some thought. We see that he refined his taste in tailoring and he put emphasis on the value of his hand-crafted approach to fashion in an industrialized climate. Through these sequences Posen shares the details and process behind every stitch of his work. The film is at its best when Posen speaks through his work. From what we see in this film, it is very clear that Posen knows exactly how to work an audience.

“IN BETWEEN”— Balancing Tradition and Modern Culture

“In Between” (“Bar Bahr”)

Balancing Tradition and Modern Culture

Amos Lassen

Arab-Israeli writer-director Maysaloun Hamoud’s feature debut “In Between” is the story of three Palestinian-Israeli women who live split lives. These strong, modern, sexually active women, live independently in the center of Tel Aviv, away from their families and the weight of tradition; they struggle to be true to themselves when confronting the expectations of others.

They women are fluent in Arabic and Hebrew and they dress in a way that makes them completely indistinguishable from their Israeli/Jewish contemporaries ultra-chic lawyer Layla (Mouna Hawa) is a very stylish and seductive lawyer and her flat-mate, Salma (Sana Jammelieh) is a lesbian disc-jockey, and part of a Palestinian cultural underground scene. They party until the wee hours at clubs, drink and do drugs with a set of bohemian friends. Salma adopts a more submissive persona when dutifully visiting her conservative Christian family, who believe that she is a music teacher and continue to invite potential suitors over for dinner. Layla, however, refuses to compromise her lifestyle and remains separate from her family. She ignores the romantic attentions of a Jewish attorney by telling him to “keep our flirtation fun.”

When Muslim graduate student, Nour (Shaden Kanboura) who wears a hijab comes to occupy the third bedroom in Layla and Salma’s apartment, the stage seems to be set for confrontation, but Hamoud instead shows the developing sisterhood between all the roommates. Not only do they share the uneasy status of being Arab-Israelis (and thus “other”) in a predominantly Jewish society, but they also share the problem of finding the right, supportive, understanding romantic partner.

Nour’s hypocritical fiancé, Wissam (Henry Andrawes), doesn’t understand why she wants to continue her studies and go on to work. He believes that eventually she will stay home, run their household, and mother their children. Nour’s perspectives on the world broaden due to her exposure to Layla, Salma, and their friends while Wissam’s continue to narrow. He accuses Nour of being a whore like her roommates, and treats her like one. While working as a bartender, Salma meets an attractive young doctor named Dunya (Ahlam Canaan) and they embark on an affair. Salma loves playing with fire and brings her new girlfriend to her parents’ place when she is supposed to meet yet another potential husband. Layla meets handsome filmmaker Ziad (Mahmoud Shalaby) and sparks fly but Ziad, despite having lived abroad and having a penchant for drink and drugs, can’t completely escape his conservative roots. He’s embarrassed to introduce Layla to his sister who still lives in a village and he criticizes her nonstop cigarette smoking.

Hamoud’s screenplay is a critique of traditional, patriarchal Palestinian society, threatened by modernity, feminine power, and the court of public opinion. We also see the racism of Israeli-Jewish society toward Arabs, from the people on the street who avoid a woman in a headscarf to the snarky manager at the restaurant where Salma works who yells at the kitchen staff for speaking to each other in Arabic.

The chemistry among the three women is excellent and they show the sense of living “in between” and the toll that it takes on their lives as “others”. Cinematographer Itay Gross shows the freedom and vibrancy of the women’s Tel Aviv life in contrast to the dull colors and claustrophobic spaces of village life. The viewers certainly get an update on their ideas about the lifestyle of Palestinian women in Israel. “In Between” focuses on daily life and is a portrait of social change. We see that alongside the traditional male-dominated Arab family structure that there exist independent females who are incredibly cool and part of an uninhibited underground scene. This is a light-hearted dramedy of girl power.

Certainly the women’s freedom comes at a price, but despite some dark and dramatic moments, none of the three young women looks likely to go back to a traditional life however uncomfortable it can be to live “in between” tradition and modernity. The opening disco sequence is a challenge to straight society.

Salma and Layla have minds of their own don’t bat an eye over the arrival of a fully covered Islamic Nour who has come to live with them. Despite the prejudice she might initially incite, she’s a woman in transition, just on the brink of liberating herself. In one of the film’s most shocking moments, her arrogant fiancé just can’t understand why she wants to study and work instead of keeping house for him and their future children and makes an intense gesture of disrespect that sets off a compassionate display of solidarity.

Hamoud tackles almost all the taboos of Arab Israeli society: drugs, alcohol, and homosexuality. Salma is rejected by her Christian family for being a lesbian, while Leila leaves her boyfriend when she discovers he is more conservative than he claims. Nour ultimately rebels against her family and traditions by leaving her religious fiancé Wissam after he rapes her. The municipality of the Muslim village Umm am-Fahm has issued a statement condemning the film as being “without the slightest element of truth” and barring it from being screened there and Hamoud as well as her actresses have received death threats.

“Bar Bahar” literally meaning “land and sea” in Arabic and translates as “neither here, nor there” in Hebrew. I understand that Hamoud chose to set the film in Tel Aviv that is regarded the most tolerant and liberal city in Israel to make a point that even there racism against Arabs is prevalent.

“APRICOT GROVES”— What Lies Ahead

“Apricot Groves”

What Lies Ahead

Amos Lassen

Aram is an the Iranian Armenian youth who has immigrated to the US in childhood but now returns to Armenia for the first time to propose to an Armenian girlfriend that he met and lived with in the US. He sees many cultural, religious, and national differences on the one-day trip, but little does he know that harder obstacles are ahead.

This is Iranian/Armenian writer/director Pouria Heidary Oureh’s first feature film and it is set in his two home countries of Armenia and Iran and this is rare for any LGBTQ movie.  The story is filled with beauty and it is rendered with compassion and understanding. When the main idea of the story is revealed, we are deeply moved by the journey that Aram’s (Narbe Vartan) journey.

Aram has flown from L.A. where he has been living since his father died,  and is met at Zvarnots Airport  by his older brother Arman (Hovhannes Azoyan) who has never left Armenia.  Aram is going to be staying for just one day. The reason for his trip is to formally propose to an Armenian female that he met while she was visiting America. The local custom is that the prospective groom must be accompanied by his own family members with gifts when he goes to his potential father-in-law to ask for her hand. Aram acts accordingly.

Preparing for the visit takes up the morning with the tailor, picking up gifts and flowers, cognac and cookies. When Aram finally arrives, the father of the perspective bride comes across as cold but he warms up and grants permission for the marriage.

 

The second part of the day includes a long drive to the Iranian border for a hinted-at reason but which I cannot share because it would ruin the viewing experience. This is a film that demands its audience to be patient. Oureh cleverly lets the story unfold and the surprise that comes is just that, a surprise. However, there is a sad aspect to the film in that because of the American government’s ban on Muslims coming into the country, we will not be able to meet Oureh at any of the screenings as it plays on the festival circuit.