ABOUT the film

Desire Will Set You Free is a feature-length narrative film that explores artistic and marginalized life in Berlin with an often critical, and sometimes humorous (but never mocking) eye. Based on a true story, and at times traveling into the realm of docufiction, the plot follows the relationship of an American writer of Israeli/Palestinian descent and a Russian aspiring artist working as a hustler, offering access to the city’s vibrant queer and underground scenes while examining the differences between expatriate and refugee life. Our characters travel through Berlin’s layered history and unique subcultural landscape; on their adventures they discover influences and remnants of the Weimar Republic, WWII, the Bowie years, and punk.

Cathrine, Ezra, Connor and Ozan
Cathrine, Ezra, Connor and Ozan

WHO is in it

The film features performances by the queen of punk Nina Hagen, electro starPeaches, Brooklyn’s Blood Orange, German sensation Rummelsnuff, rapperSookee, Einstürzende Neubauten’s Jochen Arbeit;  and Wolfgang Müller, plus cast members Amber Benson (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame), German film legendRosa Von Praunheim, artists Eva & Adele, photographer Miron Zownir, as well as newcomers Tim-Fabian Hoffman (Sasha), Chloé Griffin (Cathrine) and the director himself, Yony Leyser (Ezra).

Nina Hagen
Nina Hagen

Director’s previous work

This is the second feature film by Yony Leyser. His previous, the critically acclaimed documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within was also funded partially throughKickstarter. A Man Within screened at over 60 international film festivals, was released theatrically in 5 countries, aired on over 15 television stations, and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from the likes of New York Times and Variety, who stated: “Docu does real justice to the Beat writer, gun nut and literary icon … Like his subject, Leyser strives to disengage from the conventional, while still being lucid. He succeeds admirably.” More information at www.williamsburroughsthemovie.com.


WHERE your money will go

Production for Desire Will Set You Free was funded in part by the art film section of German film fund Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. After 26 days of intensive shooting and immense effort on behalf of our remarkable cast & crew, filming is complete! However, with initial funds quickly exhausted, we are now in need of financial support to cover post-production costs. This includes editing (which will be done at Schnittbar in Mitte, Berlin), color correction, sound design, rights clearances, formatting, soundtrack production, and festival submissions. We believe very strongly in the integrity of this film and are depending on your generous sponsorship to move us through the post-production process and set Desire Will Set You Free on track toward the finish line!

Ezra and Sasha
Ezra and Sasha

The Soundtrack

The film’s soundtrack features new renditions of classic Berlin-related songs including Blood Orange covering Malaria!Peaches covering Claire WaldoffNina Hagencovering Brecht, Starfucker covering Iggy PopFriends covering Klaus Nomi, andEaster covering Grauzone, plus original songs from current local Berlin bands including CrimeAutomat featuring Genesis Breyer P-OrridgeKool Thing, andRummelsnuff. The material is planned to be released as a standalone album on CD & LP as well as digitally for your optimal listening pleasure.

Ezra and Sasha
Ezra and Sasha

Principal Crew

Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes

Personal account of the filming process:


Press and Mentions:






Risks and challengesLearn about accountability on Kickstarter



Fortunately, shooting is complete. So we have made it through the most risky and challenging part (successfully!) Now we have all this great footage that we will work with to turn it into a groundbreaking film.

DESIRE has edgy content so it is not easy to secure substantial standard film financing without the risk of compromising the film’s integrity. We are happy that we can connect to the public directly through Kickstarter to make this film happen.

Needless to say, films take time and money to make. With your support, we plan to finish post-production by November for festival submissions and to have the soundtrack finished by the premiere. We are all looking forward to DESIRE’s completion and to sharing it with the world!



Have a question? If the info above doesn’t help, you can ask the project creator directly.

“Educating Simon” by Robin Reardon— Simon in America

educating simon

Reardon, Robin. “Educating Simon”, Kensington Books, 2014.

Simon in America

Amos Lassen

If you have not yet read something by Robin Reardon, the time has come for you to do so. This is the sixth book that she has written about gay teens and each is important in its own way. I have been a champion of hers since her first book because she writes about issues that matter and people that we need to care about. As you read Reardon, you feel her love for justice and her hatred for injustice. I have been reading Reardon since before gay people were in any way acceptable yet she was out there writing about how we should be part of society just like all others. In order for her to write so beautifully she must approach delicate issues such as psychology, social conditioning and religious extremism.

Adolescence is a difficult time anyway without dealing with sexuality and when a boy discovers that he is different from most others, it is that much harder to come to terms with. There is a vulnerability among gay teens and even with the new freedoms, these kids are fragile. We have made great progress about gay issues in society and for me moving to Boston from the South has been quite an awakening. Here sexuality is a non-issue as it should be and I am so glad that Reardon has set her book partially in Boston for that very reason. The rest of the world just has to look at Boston— a city once known for banning everything—that has now becomes a leader in this nation in terms of equal rights and responsibilities.

Simon Fitzroy-Hunt is 16 years old and he loves his home in England. He loves his school, his pet cat and his boyfriend and he can’t wait to study at Oxford University just like his father, now dead, before him had done. But that happiness about England is short-lived when his mother remarries and takes him to America and to Boston, Massachusetts. Simon is both angry and hurt and he cannot forgive his mother. He resents everything in Boston and so quite naturally any chance of finding happiness is moot. His stepsister, Persie has Asperger syndrome and her father gives her everything and Simon resents her.

On top of that he is required to have a school project and his is coaching a young student who is preparing for the National Spelling Bee. It just so happens that this eleven-year-old young student, Toby, confesses that there is a girl tapped inside of his male body and she is  named Kay.

Our opinion of Simon is influenced by who he was when we first met him. Then, he had no friends and he was happy like that or at least appeared to be. He was especially angry that his mother dared to pull him out of his school at a critical time in his education (at least he thought it was critical). Simon thought that he was not important to his mother and that she acted out of finding absolution because she has suffered guilt from her own childhood.

When he gets to Boston, he is still not so likeable and we see that in the way he and his stepsister do not hit it off. He is confused by Toby’s confession and he is not sure how to react to this. He eventually helps Kay find direction and in this way Simon also changes. ( I so identify with this—my niece decided that there was a boy inside of her and she transitioned from female to male and I did not know how to react. What’s more, I, as the gay uncle, have had more to think about and to deal with as the transition took place and I am still not sure I understand much of it. In that case, Simon is a better man than I am). As he works with Kay, we see a new Simon come into being and he realizes now that the life in England that he once had is not to be and he understands that he is at a crossroads at which he can totally lose any sense of direction or he can begin a new journey.

Suddenly I became a rooter for Simon and I want him to succeed. Like him, I came to Boston knowing no one and had to find a way. Simon will be okay. Reardon makes this story truly modern by including the Boston Marathon bombing and its effect on Simon and Persie. Simon finally realizes that he must move forward and close out the past even to the point of losing, by his own choice, the imaginary lover that he created in Graeme.

The beauty of this book (aside from the writer’s glorious prose and sensitive story) is that man can change and adapt to a situation. Simon shows us that and while the title of the book is “Educating Simon”, we, the readers are getting educated as well. I am not going to say anymore about the story except to urge you to read it. As we see the strength in Simon, we discover strength in ourselves and we have Robin Reardon to thank for that.

 “Robin Reardon is an inveterate observer of human nature, and her primary writing goal is to create stories about all kinds of people, some of whom happen to be gay or transgender–people whose destinies are not determined solely by their sexual orientation or identity”. That sentence seems to say it all. We are very lucky to have such an erudite ally. Let me just add that the book contains a reading group/discussion guide which makes it ideal for group discussions.

“Celine” by Peter B. Marshall— Two Women and a Man


Miller, Peter B. “Celine, Incanto Press, 2014.

Two Women and a Man

Amos Lassen

“Celine’ is  a story about two women and a man and the bonds (both emotional and erotic) between them. Celine and Alexa are lovers and have been since they met in Geneva ten years before our story starts. Both women belong to an international crime syndicate that is involved with art theft and sales. They work on a commissioned basis. Celine meets Preston Paige in Zurich where she seduces him. Pres is a very successful executive in technology and he has fallen in love with Celine who is irresistible to most people.

When the crime operation is completed, Celine is kidnapped in Paris and Pres rescues her and Celine suddenly feels love that she has never felt before. In a short period of time, Celine and Pres bond both emotionally and sexually. There is a problem in that the nature of Celine’s work as well as some of her earlier associations become issues when developing a relationship is involved. She has demons to deal with and she needs to have the courage to be transformed into someone who can freely give of herself to someone else.

Pres is on the verge of developing a new product and he has recently relocated to San Francisco from Boston. He had been involved in a marriage that failed and his wife was extremely talented but also quite promiscuous. In his new home, he lives in a luxurious building in what is considered the best part of San Francisco and he thinks that his life is good. All that is missing is the right woman and when Celine enters his life, he finds himself unable to resist her. She pulls him into a life of eroticism, ecstasy and art theft and he realizes that nothing is really as it seems to be. Celine is a woman that has the ability to transform a life and lead one to wisdom.

Celine leaves Alexa and moves in with Pres and then is informed by Laurent, the head of the syndicate that she works for, tells her that she and Pres will be killed if they continue their affair and Celine must return to Alexa if she wishes to stay alive. Even Pres’s proposal does not work and she returns to Alexa. Pres knows that Celine has transformed him but he is very unhappy at how things turned out.

This is a beautifully written book and it shows us just how much can be said in a small book of just 192 pages. The character development is amazing as are the descriptions and the story flows beautifully.

“Travels with Casey” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis— A Cross Country Trip

travels with casey

Denizet-Lewis, Benoit. “Travels With Casey”, Simon and Schuster, 2014.

A Cross Country Trip

Amos Lassen

For four months, 32 states and 13,000 miles Benoit Denizet-Lewis traveled with his moody Labrador dog and it is no wonder that he questions whether his dog likes him or not. I drove from Little Rock, Arkansas to Boston, Massachusetts with my Jack Russell terrorist so I know just how he felt. Denizet-Lewis tells us that he is insecure anyway and having a moody dog along for such a trip can be quite tiring. Casey, the Lab was nine-years old during the journey and he and his master set out in a rented motor home with the goal of  “paying tribute to the most powerful interspecies bond there is, in the country with the highest rate of dog ownership in the world”. As they traveled, they met dogs and dog-crazed owners of dogs. As a dog lover, I found myself becoming genuinely affected by what I was reading and was very glad to know that there are others that are controlled by an animal on the end of a leash. I have always wondered exactly how much my pup controls my life and thoughts and it is good to know that I am not the only one. What the book does and successfully so is explore the relationship man/woman and his/her dog and what that tells us about what we value and ourselves. (Please note that I tried to be politically correct in that sentence and not use the all encompassing “male” terminology but I included women as well and if necessary I can add transgender). However, I do not classify myself as one of those “dog people” but I am a dog lover.

The book is loaded with information from scientists, scholars, writers and so on and what they share is love for the dog.

There is an age difference between master Denizet-Lewis (in his 30s) and dog, Casey (about 9), yet there is unconditional love from both sides and it had to be that way if they were going to spend four months together on the road. The author felt that he needed to feel better about dog and that is one of the reasons for the trip.

I think that for most people, the pet dog in a member of the family and for us there is certainly a relationship between dog and master as well as other members of the family. Now some see this as a symbiotic relationship based upon mutual desire to be together. What we forget sometimes that relationships do not just happen—they are the work of building together and I am fairly well sure that a dog and his family have a relationship that they have built together.

As writer and dog travel together, they meet many dogs and their human masters and we meet them too. We indeed see how much humans love their dogs and are ready to do anything for them. We also see here that we need our dogs more than they need us. If I were not already a dog lover, I would certainly become one by the end of the book.

Here is what some of the critics are saying about the book:

      “Travels with Casey is a charming, touching, human and humane book. The author’s self-deprecating humor, his keen eye for the truth of the people he encounters, his respect for those who live in what too many others might call ‘fly-over country,’ and his affection for dogs make this a unique book.”
– Dean Koontz, author of The City: A Novel and A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

  •       “Benoit Denizet-Lewis has written about some pretty strange and fascinating people in his career, but no group is more entertaining than Dog People. Benoit captures this group with warmth and wit in Travels With Casey. Sit! Read! Enjoy!”
– A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically
  •       “I couldn’t stop reading Travels with Casey until I had to walk the dog. It’s an adventure story, a love story, and a brilliant commentary on dog literature from J.R. Ackerley to Cesar Millan. Everyone who has a dog will love this book.”
– Susan Cheever, author of E.E. Cummings: A Life
  •       “Dog lovers will be entranced by Benoit Denizet-Lewis’ Travels with Casey, but so will everyone, because it’s a book about all of us and a book about America. His observations are funny and poignant and the writing is exquisite.”
– David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy and Clean
  •       “Travels With Casey is a fascinating, clear-eyed, must-read dog book. Benoit takes us on a journey into that very sentimental, very American dog-human relationship, and the result is a dog book like no other.”
– Alexander Chee, author of The Queen of the Night
  •       “Casey takes his place alongside Charley and Tulip and Skip as Denizet-Lewis takes his alongside John Steinbeck and J.R. Ackerley and Willie Morris. Travels with Casey is a book for dog lovers that reaffirms why we love them so. And it is a book for misanthropes that will restore their faith in humanity.”
– Kevin Sessums, author of Mississippi Sissy
  •       “This sprightly, entertaining travelogue should find a delighted readership.”
– Kirkus Reviews
  •       “Engaging. . .. Comparisons to John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are obvious, but this is an entirely different and equally rewarding piece of work that expands with each page without losing its narrative thread or the reader’s interest.”
– Publishers Weekly

“Taking Fire” by Radclyffe— Ready for Home

taking fire

Radclyffe. “Taking Fire”, (First Respnders #4), Bold Strokes Books, 2014.

Ready for Home

Amos Lassen

Max de Milles has been a Navy medic and has lost many troops. She is ready for home. She only has four days to go before her last tour is up and she will soon be heading for the United States. Everything seemed to be working out fine until she is sent to South Somalia to help evacuate a group of humanitarians. Little did she know that her life would change.

Rachel Winslow is with the Red Cross in Somalia and she and the others were caught in gunfire during an uprising. She has refused to abandon the members of her team and the rebels have begun to get close to the camp. It might already be too late when Max and her group arrive. When she does arrive, she discovers that extremists are hunting her and Rachel and they are forced to work together if they are to get through this alive.

Rachel, Max, Grif, a wounded soldier and Amina, an  aid worker were left behind in the ruins of the camp not knowing whether or not the rebels would return. It is Max’s job to keep them safe until the Navy can return and get them out. There is also a growing attraction between Max and Rachel so this is just one more thing that they have to deal with.

Radcylffe brings is quite a character in Max who is strong despite her flaws. Not only is she a medic but she is also a soldier and this requires her to have the ability to shoot and to kill. She is a caring person who really worries about others but she has also been a loner who is stubborn to a point yet she is willing to put others before herself. Rachel was a bit more complicated of a character but one who could find her way in a situation if necessary. She is also stubborn yet she does not hide her sexuality and is ready to go after what she wants.

Having served in the Israel Defense Forces, I thought I knew a good deal about the nature of warfare but I was surprised that I learned something more about it here. Of course, warfare is constantly changing so I was glad to be brought up-to-date. We also get an idea about how survival is dealt with. We get action and romance yet they are balanced here. Radclyffe is a master of description and there were times I felt as if I was there in Somalia. One thing I have learned since I began reviewing is that there are authors who always come across with good reads and Radclyffe is one of those.

“Rough Beard” (Barba Rija) — Portguese Gay Bears


 ”Rough Beard” (Barba Rija)

  Portguese Gay Bears

barba-rijas-rough-beard-slideAugust is going to be a good months for lovers of big hairy gay men. As we reported a few days ago, Season 3 of the popular Where The Bears Are is due to start, and now Portugal is getting in on the action with its first gay bear web series, Barba Rija (Rough Beard).

 ‘It follows the lives of three gay friends who are bears but have a soft heart. António, Pedro and Ursão (Big Bear) live in Lisbon. They work, go out at night and get in romantic adventures. Pedro ended up with his boyfriend and is the group´s lovebird. António is the most rational of the three and has a secret passion. Finally, Big Bear is the strongest, but also the sweetest, who will be surprised with a change in his life. It might look like a soap opera but it´s comedy at its best. The three are the symbol of fellowship, of various types of masculinity, affections, concerns and expectations that belong to all human beings. André Murraças, the author (writer and director), is a published author who writes also for theatre and tv and was nominated for a Primetime Emmy.

‘It was originally thought as a 13 episodes project for which we managed a good amount on advertising (bars, clubs, brands), but not enough for the whole series. So we decided to take a step back and do one episode through crowdfunding. The crowdfunding was a success, we got even more money than expected and we were able to do 7 episodes of 5 minutes approximately.

“Teenage Kicks”— Feature Film Based on the Short Feature “Drowning”

 ”Teenage Kicks”

Feature Film Based on the Short Feature “Drowning”


teenage-kicksThere are a lot of gay-themed projects out there looking for funding, so when we cover one it’s great to here that it’s got the cash it needs and is moving forward. Just over a year ago Teenage Kicks was looking for money, and now we’ve had word that the movie has gone into production.

Teenage Kicks is the feature version of the successful short Drowning, which screened around the world at film festival and featured on the short film collection, Boys On Film 6: Pacific Rim. It’s take a few years to get it from short to movie, but it will now shoot over the next five weeks in Sydney’s Inner West and south-eastern suburbs.

Drowning’s writer/director, Craig Boreham, is once more at the helm, and one of the short’s stars, Miles Szanto is set to reprise his role. Since starring in Drowning, Szanto has gone onto plenty of success, including scoring the lead role in the LGBT-themed film, Bruno & Earlene Go to Vegas. Another of Drowning’s stars, Xavier Samuel, has also gone into great things, such as appearing in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and Adores. He won’t return for Teenage Kicks, but Daniel Webber (The Combination, K9, Sleeping Beauty), Charlotte Best (Home and Away, Puberty Blues), Shari Sebbans (The Sapphires, Redfern Now), Ian Roberts (Little Fish, Superman Returns, Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities) and Anni Finsterer (The Boys are Back, Sleeping Beauty, Prime Mover, Accidents Happen) are all onboard.

Here’s the synopsis: ‘In the final moments of his seventeenth year, Miklós Varga’s (Szanto) world has come crumbling down. His plans to run away and escape the hold of his migrant family have been brutally undone by family disaster. Only Mik knows the events that led to this tragedy and as far as he can see there is only one person to blame: himself.

Mik is suddenly torn between his desire to head north and start a new life with his best friend Dan, and the obligation to his broken family. Can he fill the shoes of his adored sibling or is he toxic, destined to bring ruin upon everyone he loves?

“We are really exploring that ‘in-between’ phase that we all go through. That cusp moment between teen and adult when the world can turn on its head every single day and you are still trying to find where you fit in the scheme of things,” says Craig Boreham. “Teenage Kicks is an in-your-face, raw look at that time and the issues and struggles these young characters go through when they come crashing toward adulthood. It’s an evocative, sexually charged story that I think most people can relate to.”

“#Credence”— Challenging LGBT Portrayals In Sci-fi


 Challenging LGBT Portrayals In Sci-fi

Now he’s hoping to challenge the way gay people are dealt with in sci-fi with the short film #Credence and he’s turned to IndieGoGo to raise the £6,000 he needs to get it made and onto the big screen. The hope is rather than dealing with gay themes allegorically – which sci-fi often does when it touches on LGBT things at all – it will tackle it head on with a story of a gay family dealing with the end of the world as we know it.

The film, ‘tells the story of a family torn apart during the last evacuation on earth after violent storms have made survival impossible. Hope has been found in the form of new worlds that support human life, however due to limited rocket capacity and life expectancy only children are permitted to evacuate, and even then – only the rich have ended up getting tickets. Our short film follows 2 fathers’ decision to make the ultimate sacrifice to give up all their possessions to ensure the survival of their daughter, and the entire human race.’

“Tristant and Elijah” by Jennifer Lavoie— A Secret Crush


Lavoie, Jennifer. “Tristant and Elijah”, Bold Strokes Books, 2014.

A Secret Crush

Amos Lassen

Tristant Whitfield has a crush on Elijah Cambridge (who is straight) and he has had it  since he began high school. Tristant watches himself carefully and keeps a distance but then Elijah starts to visit him at work and brings him coffee. This only makes him wonder if there is something he might have missed.

Elijah finds an old letter that Tristant’s Great-Uncle Glenn had written and hidden in a book. Now Tristant and Elijah are on a journey to find out about Uncle Glenn and the secrets he had. They only have his journals and letters to use but they are determined. Elijah realizes that Tristant is like his uncle in that he is hiding something too. This adventure brings the two boys together.

The best word that I can use to describe the story is sweet because the boys learn something about themselves as they search for information about Uncle Glenn. Tristant is openly gay, something we do not usually have in young adult fiction. He is out and he is comfortable with himself even though he wants someone he does not think he can have. He also has to deal with  being one of the only out gay students at his school as well as the fact that he has not yet found love. Nonetheless, he is a well-adjusted young man who has a wonderful relationship with his single mother and grandmother. He dreams of a life beyond the small town where he lives but he is by-and-large quite happy.

Elijah exudes confidence but he is not sure of just who he is and he also has his struggles. I must admit that I had the feeling that something horrible was going to happen but it didn’t and the story stays light and beautifully written.

I found the story to be relevant and one we can all relate to. Many of us have had the experience of having a crush on someone we cannot have. I figured early on that Elijah was closeted or was gay but just did not realize it. So we have the story of Tristant and Elijah and the story of Glenn and his classmate, Jesse and while the stories seem similar, author Lavoie beautifully shows us the differences between the two threads. Of course, time had a great deal to do with everything and when we learn that Uncle Glenn’s story happened in 1909, we understand that being gay was something that was not only not accepted but heavily looked down upon and in some places it was criminal. I thought that this was one of the beauties of the book in that it made us realize just how far the LGBT community has come.

I really liked that Tristant was so understanding and supportive of Elijah. Elijah finds his courage to come out of the closet, with the help of the story of Tristant’s Uncle. Glenn’s story was a heart breaker and when we read about someone that lived at a time that was so difficult to be oneself in, we can only thank everyone who made today so free and open.

Our gay teens really face no problems aside from internalized fear and anxiety and Elijah has an easy coming-out process (but he did have Tristant for support).

Using two different storylines is very effective in showing the changes in society and it really works here. The book is delightful and well written, the story is plausible and the read is fun.

“Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown” by Michael Cunningham— P-Town

land's end

Cunningham, Michael. “Land’s End: A Walk in Provincetown”, Picador; Reprint edition , 2012.


Amos Lassen

Now that I am living in Boston, I need to enjoy all the wonderful aspects of the location and one of those is Provincetown. For many gay men, Provincetown is the Mecca and the Medina of gay life—a place we all read about and strive to get to at least once in our gay lives. What Michael Cunningham gives us here is a love letter to P-town and his book is as beautiful and haunting as the place itself. It is a quick read that pulls you in on the first page and keeps you there.

For those who do not know, Provincetown is the tide-washed tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts and has long been a place where gays live and go to party.

 “Cunningham rambles through Provincetown, gracefully exploring the unusual geography, contrasting seasons, long history, and rich stew of gay and straight, Yankee and Portuguese, old-timer and ‘washashore’ that flavors Cape Cod’s outermost town. . . . Chock-full of luminous descriptions . . . . He’s hip to its studied theatricality, ever-encroaching gentrification and physical fragility, and he can joke about its foibles and mourn its losses with equal aplomb.” —Chicago Tribune.

Like Provincetown, the “city of sand”, Cunningham’s book is filled with joy and beauty and whether he is writing about a grocery store or the beach, each word seems to be carefully chosen to reflect his own feelings about the place. I read the book before I went and in fact I read every time before I go and then I read it when I come home. It is as if we are walking around the town and are being shown favorite places. The prose is gorgeous and sensual and this book is a real keeper.