"They tried to tie me up, and then my dad brought a knife"
, Louie exclaims as he recalls the traumatic moment when his friend in a fit of rage revealed to his family that he was homosexual, "He almost slaughtered me, like a lamb, like a goat"
After that terrible experience, Louie fled to Israel. Despite being a Palestinian living there illegally, Israel provides a safe refuge from his vengeful family and fellow Palestinians. Life is not easy in Tel Aviv, but Louie no longer needs to fear for his life and is accepted within Israel's gay community.
He's learned to be tough and make sure that he doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Every time the Israelis expel him he sneaks back into Israel. He works illegally and avoids all contact with Palestinians and even Israeli Arabs who may give him up to his family in Nablus. In Jaffa where his family work he won't even walk the streets. As the cab drives past his family's kiosk he covers his face and says urgently, "drive, drive faster."
"Unfortunately, Israel doesn't provide protection for people in your situation."
says Anat from an Israeli refugee charity which can help him get asylum overseas. He doesn't want to leave the country, but ten years on the run have worn him down. He meets a successful refugee applicant named Abdu who is waiting to leave. Their friendship blossoms and Abdu tries to convince Louie to leave, but also brings him inside the Arab gay scene in Israel. Despite starting the refugee process Louie is still torn about leaving his homeland, "I want to breathe my culture, my land."
Abdu leaves and Louie is alone in Tel Aviv. Both men desperately miss the families that persecute them. "We all live in yearning, I miss my father,"
Louie says. After receiving an offer of asylum, Louie learns the news of his father's death, "I was hoping that one day I'd be able to tell him, "forgive me, my father. I was born this way"
But as he makes his way to the train station, he is caught by police and deported back to the West Bank. Will Louie ever be able to find the freedom he needs to live his life as a gay man? A truly heartbreaking story.
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Winner Best Documentary Jury Award, Frameline International LGBT Film Festival, 2012
Official Selection, Docaviv International Documentary Festival, 2012
Official Selection, Movies that Matter Amnesty International Film Festival, 2012
Special Jury Award, Doc Aviv, 2012