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Thriller brings gay romance, Mideast intrigue into focus

The Jewish Journal reviewed Israeli movie “Out in the Dark” that opens in Los Angeles  September 27 at Laemmle’s NoHo 7 in North Hollywood.

Filmmakers in Hollywood and abroad long have been fascinated by characters representing different races, religions, nationalities or ideologies who transgress social taboos and barriers by falling in love.

Back in the silent and barely speaking movie era of the 1920s, Jewish boys and gentile girls got together and ignored parental dismay in such love-conquers-all films as “Frisco Sally Levy,” “Abie’s Irish Rose” and, my favorite title, “Kosher Kitty Kelly” — well before such liaisons became commonplace.

It took a few more decades before Sidney Poitier could marry a WASP beauty in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

Now it’s the turn of gays, with some of the best work in the genre coming from such Israeli directors as the late Amos Guttman, Yair Hochner and Eytan Fox. The latter’s “Walk on Water,” for instance, hooks up a hard-as-nails Mossad agent, who assassinates Nazi war criminals, with the grandson of his latest target.

A new entry in the genre is “Out in the Dark,” the first feature film of Michael Mayer, a Haifa native and graduate of USC’s film school who now works and lives in Los Angeles.

Meshing a political thriller with a passionate love theme, the film centers on a little-known component of the Tel Aviv mosaic consisting of Palestinian gays who have fled their West Bank villages and towns and now live “illegally” in the permissive Israeli city.

Roy Schaefer, a handsome, well-connected Israeli lawyer, meets Nimr Mashrawi, a Palestinian psychology student, in a Tel Aviv gay nightclub, and almost instantly the two form a deep personal and sexual bond.

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