“ARMY OF LOVERS IN THE HOLY LAND”
A Different Look at Israel
Many of you know that I am an Israeli and was very active in what was the gay liberation movement of the country. Because of the work we did, Tel Aviv became home to one of the largest Pride celebrations outside of the West and is now seen as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly destination cities in the world. Because of these new freedoms, Tel Aviv felt like home to Jean-Pierre Barda, the lead vocalist (for lack of a better term) of the Swedish disco-dance band Army of Lovers. Documentarian Asaf Galay follows Barda as he makes Aliyah to Israel and settles in.
Barda and his Army of Lovers bandmates Alexander Bard (the founder) and Dominika Peczynski openly admit they do not play instruments and never sang their own vocals. They see the band as performing in elaborate and often risqué costumes with crazy hairdos and wild makeup. The band was once thought to be successors to ABBA and they almost attained that in Europe aside from England and not in America.
Barda was raised in Sweden by his naturalized French-Algerian parents but, at first, we had conflicted attitudes towards his Jewish religion and heritage. Then he went on a tour of Israel tour that gave him a new, positive way to see to his Jewishness and he decided to stay in Israel.
What we see here is Israel’s tolerance. We also see Bard and Peczynski r throughout the film as they discuss their shared history and visiting Barda in Tel Aviv. Barda and his comrade’s theatricality is seen throughout the film as well as their wry humor.
Army of Lovers wasa totally fabricated group (they don’t sing or dance). It was some 30 years ago when they arrived on the scene. The success they found came from the underground clubs of the time.
This documentary focuses on Barda. We see him getting his Israeli citizenship, holding court and talking about his life. We also learn that he has returned to hairdressing.He shares his new homeland and he realizes that the Army is over but he is struggles now that he is no longer “a star”.