by Stephen Lackey, contributor
Michael Mayer and Yael Shafrir set out to tell a multi-layered tale of sexual identity, politics, and social commentary. After meeting in a Tel Aviv nightclub, psychology major, Nimr, and Jewish lawyer, Roy, feel an instant attraction and fall in love. They are challenged as outsiders in their communities and in dealing with the escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The film has much to say about society and acceptance but, surprisingly, co-writer and director had a much tougher time with a completely different aspect of the filmmaking process.
“Actually, the biggest challenge for me wasn't the political or social aspects of the story, but rather creating a love story that felt real," said Michael Mayer. We worked with the actors, Nicholas Jacob, (Nimr) who has never acted before and Michael Aloni (Roy) who's a big star in Israel, to create a relationship that feels true and intimate. We rehearsed a lot and gave them time set to try things and find their own voices. It was important for us to portray a relationship that was as much a friendship as it was about falling in love.”
“My ultimate goal as a filmmaker is to make a film that is both thought-provoking and connects with audiences on an emotional level. However, I also hope audiences go home after watching "Out in the Dark" with the desire to learn more about the social and political issues raised in the film.”
Mayer conceived the nugget of an idea that eventually became "Out in the Dark" a few years back after spending time with a friend who volunteered at the LGBT Center in Tel Aviv. The story stayed with him for so long that he felt he had to tell it.
“The idea of women and men from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict collaborating and helping each other, not out of a specific political agenda, but rather out of a shared sexual orientation and an experience of being outsiders in their own communities, really moved me. I started researching the subject and spent months in Israel becoming familiar with people on both sides of the conflict and with the gay communities in both Palestine and Israel.”
"Out in the Dark" is part of the New Director’s film lineup. Mayer is thrilled to be screening at NaFF and is looking forward to meeting the audience:
“I've heard from fellow filmmakers who've been to the festival before that it's a real audience driven event. They tell me that the people of Nashville are so passionate about film and really show up to watch and support, not just mainstream titles, but independent and foreign films as well. I'm really looking forward to meeting them at the Q&A and after.” Catch "Out in the Dark" Saturday, 4/20 5:45 PM and Wednesday, 4/24 4:30 PM. Buy Tickets Here