Friday, June 28, 2013

Out in the Dark (עלטה • ظلام)

Out in the Dark (Alata/Dhalam) (עלטה / ظلام), dir. Michael Mayer (מיכאל מאיר), 2012, Israel, 96 min., in Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles 
Friday, June 28, 9:30 pm @ Castro (U.S. west coast première)

It’s a bit confusing if you say that Out in the Dark is a “smash hit,” because a different Michael Mayer is also a director on the U.S. TV series Smash, as well as having directed A Home at the End of the World [Frameline28, 2004, avail. on DVD]. Perhaps one day Frameline will have them both on stage at once, if only to prove they really aren’t the same person.

Roy (Michael Aloni, left)
and Nimr (Nicholas Jacob)
Out in the Dark (in Hebrew, Alata or עלטה) (in Arabic, Dhalam or ظلام) is the story of Roy (Michael Aloni • מיכאל אלוני), an Israeli lawyer, and Nimr (Nicholas Jacob • ניקולאס יעקוב), a Palestinian student, who meet in a Tel Aviv bar. Nimr snuck across the border from Ramallah for a taste of gay life, but he soon gets a permit to study at a university in Tel Aviv. Unfortunately, the conflict over the Israeli occupation puts pressure on Nimr from all sides, with his brother preparing to defend his homeland while the thugs of the Israeli security apparatus try to blackmail Nimr into becoming an informant. Of course, Nimr’s family is obdurately anti-gay, as Nimr finds out to his horror one night, but Roy’s parents, while they’ve gotten past his coming out, don’t exactly rush to embrace Nimr. Roy gets upset that Nimr is keeping secrets from him, not understanding that Nimr genuinely has no choice. Although Israeli law and society are far more accepting of homosexuality than the Palestinians, the Israeli security police cynically blackmail gay Palestinians and then out them to their families as gay collaborators when they are no longer of any use to Israel. If Roy and Nimr are to stay together, they’re going to need a miracle.

Out in the Dark gives a nuanced portrayal of the two characters and their story, while pulling no punches in shining its light into some of the dark recesses of the injustices of both Israeli and Palestinian society. It’s a moving story, beautifully written, acted and filmed, and definitely worth seeking out. Highly recommended, a Must See.

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