Foreign language films hit the sweet
spot at the 20th annual Palm Springs International Film
Festival, where 50 of the 67 official submissions to the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Best Foreign Language Film will
“It's a good place to show
foreign-language films,” Sony Picture Classics' Michael Baker told
Two foreign entries will strike a
mighty chord with the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
community. One looks at the Vatican's homophobic seizures as
Italians debated civil unions in 2007, while the second is an
intimate look at Iran's underground sex-change industry.
We are confident the premise of
director/writer Tanaz Eshaghian's Be Like Others is possibly
more disturbing than any Halloween horror flick for rent at
Netflix: Would you alter your sex for society's acceptance?
The horror is playing out for real in
Iran where being gay is punishable by death, but having a sex change
The film follows several young men as
they decide to undergo the painful surgery in hopes of re-entering
society. Homophobia is so entrenched in this Muslim country that
even these boys do not admit to being gay.
One of the men featured is 20-year-old
Anoosh whose boyfriend is more comfortable when he dresses as a
woman. To remain together, Anoosh decides to become Anahita. While
the surgery alleviates societal concerns, it's apparent their
relationship has suffered.
Be Like Others outs a truly
ghoulish byproduct of institutionalized homophobia in the Islamic
Republic of Iran.
In Suddenly, Last Winter we find
out that the homophobic despot of Italy is the Vatican.
Filmed by Roman couple Gustav Hofer and
Luca Ragazzi, whose domestic bliss had largely insulated them from
the deep rooted anti-gay attitudes of their countrymen. But the
“shock and awe” response from church leaders and right-wing
organizations to a proposed gay civil unions bill in the winter of
2007 leaves the couple shell-shocked.
The setting is Italy, but the narrative
is eerily similar to California summer of 2008, making Suddenly,
Last Winter a very interesting look at the universal thinking of
gay marriage opponents.
The 20th annual Palm Springs
International Film Festival opens Thursday, January 8.
Gay Entertainment Report is a feature
of On Top Magazine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Net: The Palm Springs
International Film Festival website is at www.psfilmfest.org