Saturday, March 03, 2018

Review of 'Oriented'

A surprising film about young gay Palestinians living in Tel Aviv...surprising in that the narrative that we are expecting, that these men can be free in a tolerant, secular, Jewish city but not in their own communities, is not what we get at all. Instead they're mainly comfortable in their own skins as gay men, but not as Palestinians in Israel. One is very clearly accepted and cherished by his tolerant, secular, modern family - one is loved and cherished but hasn't come out yet, though it's reasonably clear that his sisters can see what's going on and are sympathetic, and the third falling in and out of love with Jewish men, and feeling bad because he's sleeping with the enemy.

There's also a woman friend who hangs out with them all the time, and provides lots of support and friendship, but doesn't even merit a name, much less a back story...a shame, because that misses an opportunity to introduce a whole lot more issues.

Another surprise is the boys' trip to Amman, where they attend a huge gay concert-party. The point of this, well made, is that the picture that Israeli liberals draw of the Arab world as a place where gays are only persecuted, is incomplete. Dancing in the crowd, they say that this is what Palestine could have been. Of course, they would have had less fun in some other parts of the Arab world, and even in some other parts of Palestine - I don't think there's much of a gay scene in Gaza.

But though it's a little bit long, and includes too much footage of the boys' self-indulgent 'art' videos, it's a really interesting thoughtful film, worth watching even for people who are not specially interested in the gay experience but want to see the dynamics between Israeli Jews and Israeli Palestinians from another angle.

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