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Monday, June 23, 2008

All My Life

This Sunday night, Frameline Film Festival featured the world premiere of
All My Life, the first honest and multi-dimensional feature film about gay men in Egypt. In a sold out house, many members of the local Middle Eastern LGBTQ community gathered together to create a lively and loving ambiance to support their dear friend and director Maher Sabry. As the lights dimmed the entire crowd cheered and clapped out of excitement. What only added to the joyous mood was that many members of South West Asian North African Bay Area Queers (SWANABAQ) lent their talent as actors for this film, as well as a beautiful composition by SWANABAQ member Ilyas Iliya.

The film portrays Rami, a young gay accountant who holds both traditional and modern views of the world. Rami is just getting comfortable with his sexuality when his boyfriend decides that he cannot take the pressure from his family anymore and marrys a woman. Shortly after, Rami is faced with a governmental crackdown of gay men in Cairo after 52 men were arrested in the infamous Queen Boat Case. In an attempt towards self-comfort Rami continually tells himself and others that the men who were arrested must had been doing something wrong, therefore he is not at risk since he leads a "respectable" life.

As the film follows Rami through his transformation and experiences with casual sexual encounters, challenging stereotypes, and trying to protect his friends, the viewer only becomes more connected with his struggles and enjoyment in life. Sabry adds to this intense feature by brilliantly including the stories of other individuals who are also growing and learning from life, including a woman who moves to San Francisco but is faced with the urge to move back to Cairo to help with feminist activism and a devout Muslim man who is battling with his desire for premarital sex.

In all honesty, half of my enjoyment from the premiere was seeing this gorgeous and amazingly honest film, and the other half came from seeing the SWANABAQ community together, elated and proud.

If you would like to join SWANABAQ during pride please check out Bibi, a Middle Eastern Queer club night this friday, June 27th.



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