Photography by Todor Krastev
Who’s Gonna Love Me Now?
Debuts at the 30th Anniversary Israel Film Festival in Los Angeles
During the most depressing of times, we can always turn to art for inspiration. It’s imperative to remind ourselves of the light in other people, and the beauty of seeing human beings for who they really are. Barak and Tomer Heymann’s documentary Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? does just that. The film follows Saar, a 39-year-old Israeli living with HIV in London, who is beginning to reconcile his sexual identity with his national one. Saar grew up on a religious kibbutz, which is a communal farm, back in Israel, and after avoiding them for years, tries to make amends with his family.
When we first meet Saar, he has already lived in London for over a decade and has worked hard to build a community for himself. His life mainly surrounds the Gay Men’s Chorus he participates in. The chorus helped him initially adjust to this foreign country and has since become a second family, caring for him without judgement. Throughout the movie it becomes clear just how central the chorus is to all of the members’ lives and scenes of them performing together punctuate the film, often providing much needed comic relief.
Saar explains that after going through a bad breakup, he stopped taking care of himself and consciously started making dangerous decisions. He knew how irresponsible he was being and would later admit that his HIV diagnosis felt like karma for the acts he committed both to others and himself. Although part of him feels like he’s being appropriately punished, he manages to handle his positive status with a lightheartedness and dark sense of humor. At times he worries about his future, but he does not take his diagnosis as a death sentence or an excuse to stop living. Saar has a palpable joy for life that shines throughout the film and helps create a three-dimensional representation of those living with HIV.
It becomes clear that Saar’s outlook about his disease is a direct result of the rejection of his family. While they claim to be supportive, his brothers and sisters focus more on the “threat” he poses to their children than to actually reaching out to him. As the oldest son in a military family, Saar is fully aware of the disappointment he has caused his parents with his life choices. The very first thought he had after he got his diagnosis was, “How am I going to tell them?” During visits by his mother and father to London, and his own trips to Israel, we see Saar confront his familial demons and say things he’s been holding in for years. Most importantly, he works up the courage to boldly state, “This is me. Take it or leave it.”
The movie ends with us watching as Saar grapples with the decision to stay living his comfortable life in London or finally mend ties with his parents by moving back to Israel. A tale of friendship, family and fabulous choral music, Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? is the perfect antidote for your post-election blues. It will be premiering next week in Los Angeles during the annual Israeli Film Festival. You can learn more about the film here, and purchase tickets for either date by clicking on the descriptions below.