A QUEER COUNTRY
A Queer Country explores the development of Israel’s buzzing LGBT community in Tel Aviv – recently crowned the gay capital of the world – and how this challenges the country’s unique legal structure and society based on Orthodox Judaism. It examines the hold of Orthodoxy over family law and how this affects Israel’s citizens when it comes to achieving equal rights in their private lives.
The filmmakers, Lisa Morgenthau and Harriet Davies, explore this at the personal level – interviewing people such as Amit Kama, the first man to challenge the state on gay divorce – and the political level – meeting Ron Huldai, mayor of Tel Aviv and one of the LGBT community’s biggest political proponents. They also travel beyond Tel Aviv to visit the Knesset (the Israeli parliament), the Supreme Court, and the more diverse, religious communities in areas like the Galilee.
Interweaving the personal and political, they build an intimate portrait of Israel that highlights the internal struggle of values in the country, which is often drowned out by the conflict at its much-disputed borders.
Despite hosting one of the world’s largest, most colourful gay Pride events each year (all caught on camera with behind the scenes footage), Israel’s LGBT citizens face an uphill battle when it comes to achieving political victories.
Their parliament – a coalition by design – is riven with religious and political divides, and their society, founded as a safe haven for Jews, struggles to live up to this mission in reality. The young nation faces a unique challenge in balancing opinions on socials issues, with its citizens ranging from Orthodox ultra-Zionists (who want to expand the Jewish state) to European Jews heavily influenced by Western values.
The documentary questions whether liberal values can flourish in this environment, or whether they are doomed as long as the Rabbinate holds sway. We explore the contradictions this creates through people adapting to being LGBT in a religious country.
Meanwhile, the very question of Israel being an LGBT “champion” is controversial; Palestinian sympathisers, many based inside Israel, level the charge of “Pinkwashing” at the country. Conspiracy theories abound, such as that it is a government ploy to detract from the conflict, or a cynical money-spinning exercise. The documentary raises all these questions and seeks to answer them by telling the true story of how Israel’s LGBT community came into being.
Director: Lisa Morganthau
Producer: Charlotte Arden and Harriet Davies
Editor: Luar Klinghofer Bar Dov
Executive Producer: Peter Dunphy
The film’s Director Lisa Morgenthau won the award in the 2016 Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards – The Women Filmmaker’s award. The film was also nominated for Best Documentary Feature and will be screened this Spring on a date to be confirmed.