A QUEER COUNTRY
Why this documentary?
Common associations with Israel relate to it's reputation as war hawk, an oppressor and a religious state. But recently, Tel Aviv, Israel's second city, after Jerusalem, has become known for being the Gay Capital of the World. Something didn't add up.... How could a country known for all of these things widely reported in the press also be home to the world's most liberal city? Putting aside everything we had heard about Israel, we went on a journey to find out for ourselves what was driving this vibrant LGBT community, how it has managed to emerge and flourish in such a challenging environment and what life is really like for members of the LGBT community beyond the widely documented annual Pride Parade in June attracting droves of tourists.
What did we find?
This is where the story becomes interesting... because once we arrived in Tel Aviv we headed straight for the Gay Centre in the middle of Gan Meir Park. Here we were met with droves of same sex families, taking their children to creches and an environment that was neither overt nor repressed. Initial impressions showed us what could possibly be the future hope for many LGBT people around the world - living in a community that was tolerant, challenging and diverse. But scratch beneath the surface and a more complicated picture emerged. This culture of tolerance had not come about with out struggle and pain. We spoke with some of the founding members of Israel LGBT activist community
and started to understand a picture of a divided state - a people who had historically experienced persecution and understood the importance of basic human rights and freedoms and then the Orthodox, religious community in Israel, desperate to preserve it's identity as a Jewish state and deny anything that threatens this identity.
And herein lies the dichotomy that weaves it's way through all aspects of Israeli life - a nation fighting for the right to exist and hold onto to traditional values and a nation trying to move forward and a create a modern identity of culture and liberalism. Two very different world's rubbing shoulder to shoulder in daily life.
Even within the LGBT community itself, there seemed to be divisions - life was most comfortable for the 'poster boys' of Tel Aviv - handsome young gay men
but still a struggle for the minorities within the LGBT community such as the transexual community who are still fighting to have their identity accepted and recognised and even more so for gay Arabs.
And to further muddy this picture of Tel Aviv as the Gay Capital of the world there is an emerging school of thought, which first surfaced in New York, that claims that the Israeli government is simply using the LGBT community to boost Israel's PR on the world stage in order to detract from human violations in Palestinian territories.
We went on a journey to understand all aspects of LGBT life in Tel Aviv in Israel and on the way found that it offered a door into one of the most complicated and debated issues in of the last century - what sort of country really is Israel?
So far we have been on a 6 week self funded trip to Israel. Here we have met many people who have given us unique access into the LGBT community. We already have 25 hours of footage. This is all we could afford ourselves and we hope to be able to raise enough money to go back to Israel and finish filming, following up on the lives of many of the characters we met. We also hoping to take a trip to New York to interview the originators of the 'Pinkwashing' claims and understand why they believe these claims are true. Further to this we will need to edit the film and fund the post production which involves sound, grading and music licensing.
We are passionate about this film and have come this far... please help us tell this important story - your help will enable this story to be told!
Risks and challenges
We intend to show a complete picture of Israeli LGBT life and this involves gaining access to Palestinian members of the LGBT community where this issue is extremely sensitive and their livelihoods and sometimes even lives are at risk at the risk of exposure through coming out. We will protect their identities at all costs but of course their always some element of potential recognition. Also we would like to explore the Palestinian territories and these are much less comfortable places to be gay and it is a far more sensitive and dangerous task to convey the LGBT underworld.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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