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Friday, June 6, 2008

Unacceptable!

posted by on June 6 at 15:18 PM

I see from the SIFF website that tonight’s showing of Be Like Others is not sold out. Unacceptable!

Be Like Others


This is the best documentary at SIFF (I’m pretty sure—though I haven’t seen Stranded, and Accelerating America was a very pleasant surprise).

Here’s my capsule review:

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, you can be put to death for being a homosexual. But according to a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomenei over 20 years ago, the Quíran says nothing about transsexuals, and so sex changes are permissibleóeven gently condoned. Without pressing the case, Iranian-American director Tanaz Eshaghian leaves open the delicate, chilling possibility that some young men may be getting their junk chopped off because their parents, doctors, and society are telling them itís at once okay to become a woman and an abomination to remain a gay man. Itís a riveting study of the way gender and sexuality intersect in a 21st-century theocracy. ANNIE WAGNER

So, take the film still, above. The young trannie in a hijab is dating the young man to the left. They’ve been dating for a long time, probably since before the hijabi started dressing a a woman. The sexuality of the young man is not what you would call “in question.” Not that I want to put anyone’s life in danger, but he seems pretty damn gay. Unsurprisingly, when his partner gets a sex change (in part to please mom, who’s dying for a normal kid, son or daughter, but also so they can finally get married), he loses interest. It is both hard to watch and utterly fascinating. The concepts of gender and sexuality are tangled together a way that would horrify Judith Butler, but which is so ingrained in the culture that I think you’d have a very time convincing any of the individuals involved that God doesn’t necessarily intend for them to be women just because they like cooking and don’t want to marry a girl.

According to the Guardian, Iran carries out more sex-change operations than any country except Thailand. The government funds the operations with grants of thousands of dollars.

It’s a great topic, and an exceptional film.

RSS icon Comments

1

It's a great topic.

But that doesn't mean it's a great film.

Some might like it, and some might not.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 6, 2008 3:25 PM
2

Hot Tranny Irani Mess

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | June 6, 2008 3:34 PM
3

Sounds a bit like a plot snippet from Hedwig.

Posted by Lama Mama | June 6, 2008 3:56 PM
4

Theocratic government forces you to turn your penis inside out, lop off your testicles and grow breasts. Total Friday night movie.

Posted by chicagogaydude | June 6, 2008 4:34 PM
5

@4: It plays Saturday afternoon too!

Posted by annie | June 6, 2008 4:43 PM
6

On a slightly related note, SIFF keeps sending out emails to Volunteers touting "Free Movies!" and encouraging volunteers to bring friends with them. The free movies in question? Festival films.

Which makes me wonder if SIFF is having problems filling seats. Which I guess is always going to be a problem when you have 400+ films, but it just struck me as odd.*

*This is my first year volunteering, so this could be the norm.

Posted by Dave | June 6, 2008 4:47 PM
7

lama mama sounds just like hedwig.. expect its real :(

Posted by jess | June 8, 2008 6:12 AM
8

@1 is right. it's a great topic, and there is some great footage, but Be Like Others does not live up to its potential. a documentary is not just interesting subject matter, it's storytelling and communication. Be Like Others made me want to watch a documentary on the same subjects made by a better filmmaker.

and no, it's not the best doc at SIFF. so far, that would be Man On Wire, which i don't think anyone at the Stranger bothered to see.

Posted by ironymaiden | June 8, 2008 9:02 PM
9

I agree with @8 about Man on Wire. If that thing doesn't snag an Oscar nomination, I'm calling foul. Like HBO's Recount, the conclusion is part of the historical record, but director James Marsh handles the suspense masterfully.

Posted by Kathy Fennessy | June 8, 2008 11:56 PM

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