“Out in the Dark” explores near impossibility of gay Israeli-Palestianian relationships

Nicholas Jacob (l) and Michael Aloni in OUt in the Dark.

Nicholas Jacob (l) and Michael Aloni in OUt in the Dark.

Continuing our OUTober focus on LGBT films we have watched a lot of the latest foreign cinema releases, and are quite struck by the simplicity of “Out in the Dark” from Breaking Glass Pictures. Directed by Michael Mayer, it shines a revealing flashlight on the border crossing relationship between Nimr (Jacob) a quiet Palestinian student in the West Bank and Roy (Aloni) an Israeli lawyer. They fall in love and things get very complicated.

Roy works at his politically connected father’s law firm. Although Roy is out to his family, their acceptance is grudging. When he brings home his Palestinian boyfriend, it is all they can do to be polite. When Nimr’s family finds out, they cast him out.

That’s because in Palestinian society, gay is a big no-no, and for some, a way to blackmailing closeted gays into doing whatever the security forces deem needed at the moment. Nimr’s family does indeed find out when the kid doesn’t agree to spy on his community, and is thrown out of his home, his mother and brother cursing him for being gay. Back in Tel Aviv it seems there nothing his lawyer lover and powerful friends can do for him except assure him that everything is going to be just fine.

Where have we heard that before, eh? In Israel and Palestine the borders and boundaries are infuriatingly complex.

Of course, things get a lot worse before the film finally winds its way to its inconclusive conclusion, in this somewhat cliched romantic thriller. Nicholas Jacob as Nimr and Michael Allen as Roy make a great on screen couple with more than just some heartfelt acting and raw emotion going for them. If nothing else, it shows that vicious gossip by dishy queens is nothing compared to the hard assed and ill-tempered decisions made by the two sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

BOSOutinthedarkWhile this film could leave you a bit depressed, it might also make you grateful that at least in the United States most people are as repulsed by the Fred Phelps’ and Pat Robertson sort of hate talk. Nevertheless in the middle east one can lose their life over being in love. The star crossed lovers in Out in the Dark manage to survive, but at what cost to their careers and future prospects?

Out in the Dark is due to be released on DVD on October 29, 2013. It has received seven Audience Awards for Best Picure at film festivals around the world.

Larry Murray is a member of the Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association which votes on the Dorian Awards each year. This film is under consideration for the 2013 nominations.

Out in the Dark. 96 minutes. Directed by Michael Mayer; written by Yael Shafrir and Mr. Mayer; director of photography, Ran Aviad; edited by Maria Gonzales; music by Mark Holden and Michael Lopez; production design by Sharon Eagle; costumes by Hamada Atallah; produced by Lihu Roter and Mr. Mayer; released by Breaking Glass Pictures.Cast: Nicholas Jacob (Nimr Mashrawi), Michael Aloni (Roy Schaefer), Jameel Khouri (Nabil Mashrawi), Alon Pdut (Gil) and Loai Noufi (Mustafa N’amna).

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