You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

City of Borders

Jerusalem's gay community offers one small equal-footing intersection for Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims.

With: Sa'ar Netanel, Boody, Adam Russo, Samira Saraya, Ravit Geva. (English, Arabic, Hebrew dialogue)

Liberal Tel Aviv is considered the gay capital of the Middle East, while just 45 minutes away, Jerusalem is the region’s historical multifaith nexus. Yun Suh’s documentary “City of Borders” finds the latter city’s homosexual community offers one small equal-footing intersection for Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Muslims — if only because gays of any background here share condemnation from all religious quarters. Focusing on a few representative individuals, well-made pic should continue to play the fest circuit through an as-yet-unscheduled PBS broadcast debut. Offshore tube sales are likely.

Sa’ar Netanel opened the Shushan bar the same day he became Jerusalem’s first openly gay city councilman — elected alongside its first ultra-Orthodox mayor, alas. (We see other conservative politicos and staffers routinely insult Netanel to his face at work.) The bar fast became popular among gay residents of all stripes, drawn to its inclusive vibe, as new friendships tore down long-held cultural stereotypes. But this proved only fleeting shelter from a hostile environment.

Boody, a young, devout Muslim and drag performer, worries he’ll be forced to emigrate to save his neck. Exhibiting world-class denial, his otherwise supportive mother flatly refuses on camera to believe he’s really gay.

Secular Jewish youth Adam Russo became an emboldened gay rights activist after he was one of several people stabbed by an Orthodox man at a 2005 gay-pride parade. Still, his political awakening only stretches so far, as he sees no problem in building a home for himself and his lover in a settlement in disputed occupied territory. Elsewhere, lesbian partners Samira Saraya and Ravit Geva struggle with the complications of crossing religious and ethnic lines within one relationship that’s already taboo to many.

The virulence of the surrounding homophobia is daunting — even when the 2006 parade is canceled for fear of violence, protestors riot and set fires anyway. Somewhat frustratingly, gays in nearby Tel Aviv aren’t all that supportive, tending to shrug and opine that fighting for rights in Jerusalem is a pointless endeavor.

Involving personality mix and balance of intimate/public dramas make the pic seem fuller than its slim running time. The film maintains its protags’ stubbornly upbeat attitude, despite the frequent hurdles and setbacks they face. Assembly is decent.

City of Borders

Production: A Yun Suh and ITVS production in association with the Center for Asian American Media. Produced by Yun Suh. Co-producer, Karin Thayer, Simone Nelson. Directed by Yun Suh.

Crew: Camera (color, mini-DV-to-DigiBeta), Karin Thayer, Robin McKenna; editor, Jean Kawahara; music, Shranny, Musa Hanhan, Jonathan Zalben, Ronen Landa; sound, Suh, James LeBrecht, Patti Tauscher, Dan Olmstted, Alex Wilmer. Reviewed at San Francisco Film Festival, May 6, 2009. (Also in Frameline, Hot Docs, Los Angeles, Seattle film festivals; Newfest, Outfest.) Running time: 66 MIN.

With: With: Sa'ar Netanel, Boody, Adam Russo, Samira Saraya, Ravit Geva. (English, Arabic, Hebrew dialogue)

More Film

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International

    'Curse of La Llorona' Tops International Box Office With $30 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” led the way at the international box office, summoning $30 million when it opened in 71 foreign markets. The supernatural thriller collected $26.5 million in North America for a global start of $56.5 million. “La Llorona,” based on the Mexican folklore about the Weeping Woman, [...]

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as one of the most reliable box office draws. Even so, [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content