There have been two important Israeli feature filmmakers who grapple with their homosexuality on screen. Eytan's Fox's films (The Bubble, Yossi and Jagger, Song of the Siren, Walk on Water) have put gay men right in the center of the Israeli screen, and with great success! Amos Gutmann, who died tragically from AIDS in 1993, directed four feature films (Drifting, Bar 51, Himmo King of Jerusalem, Amazing Grace) all of which portray young people suffering from the limitations of a narrow-minded society and depict the director's own background, milieu and sensitivities.
More recently comes a documentary filmmaker, Tomer Heyman, who is willing to expose himself openly and honestly on the screen. His latest film, I Shot My Love, is a striking personal documentary look at family relationships and at his own developing relationship with a German man whom he meets when he travels to Berlin to present a film at the film festival.
This is a film about a relationship between two gay men – but it is about much more. It is also about love, illness, mother-son relationships, family bonds and reaching across the cultural divide in finding love.
A few years ago, Heyman directed a film Paper Dolls about drag queens which was screened at the Berlin Film Festival. His mother, whose parents fled from Berlin in 1936, came with him to Berlin to the festival, for the premiere. After the screening, Heyman went out to celebrate, and that's when he met Andreas.
Andreas is a complicated character, very blond, very good looking and charming. Although he is a German, he is not proud of it. Heyman is one of those filmmakers who has an obsession with shooting everything in his own personal life and the viewer is witness as their relationship grows and develops and deepens – Tomer behind the camera and Andreas on screen.
Tomer also focuses the camera on his articulate mother who is an accepting woman, open-minded, and tolerant of her son's choices vis-à-vis his lifestyle and his partner. She lived all her life in the village of Kfar Yedidya. There she met her husband and they brought up their five sons. After many years, she divorced, her sons moved away, and now she lives alone. She is a strong and compelling character.
The film is obviously about these two important people in the filmmaker's life, but it is also about issues of filmmaking itself. The style is "family cinema verité", exposing personal issues and emotions, as the viewer is offered a chance to watch things develop seemingly in real time. But this style also gets in the way sometimes, creating a barrier between the two men, and Andreas accuses Tomer of only talking to him when the camera is on and of hiding in safe territory behind the camera. Although he sees the camera as a barrier, it does not stop Andreas from revealing deep secrets from his own past.
I Shot My Love (70 minutes) is currently in theatrical release in Germany and is available from Heyman Brothers Films