Barak and Tomer Heymann together are award-winning Heymann Brothers Films who have made some of the best Jewish gay documentaries which are now being given a mini retrospective next month that the Stonewall National Museum & Archives are presenting with the Congregation Etz Chaim in Wilton Manors.
Based in Israel the two talented filmmakers draw from their own personal backgrounds to highlight different aspects of being both Jewish and gay (although Barak is straight) and do so in a manner that make their films must-sees for even us goyim.
LIFE IN STILLS: 96 year old Miriam Weissenstein runs the legendary The Photo House in Tel Aviv with her gay grandson Ben. It contains all of her late husband Rudi’s life’s work which recorded all the important occasions when the State of Israel was being created. Now she is having to deal with the fact that the City wants to demolish the building that houses her store, and also the reality that Ben wants to move in with his lover in Jaffa.
Miriam and Ben are bonded not just by their love for each other but that they survived a dreadful family tragedy together. The question is will they get through this next chapter of their lives. It is a wonderfully story of a beautifully touching intergenerational relationship.
WHO’S GONNA LOVE ME NOW? After Saar Maoz, an utterly charming 40 year old man, served as a paratrooper in the Israeli Army, he was kicked out of the Kibbutz where he had been living with his large extended family for being gay, so he moved to London to begin again and look for the love of his life. Now 18 years later, his ‘forever’ boyfriend left after three years and the very untamed man that took his place led Saar down a wild and indulgent path which resulted with him being diagnosed HIV+.
With his conservative religious family back in Israel struggling with their very judgmental opinions on what they consider are the consequences of his ‘life style choices,’ Saar finds a replacement for them in the shape of the London Gay Men’s Chorus where the other members give him the unconditional love and fellowship that he so desperately needs and wants.
Tomar Heymann had first met Saar when they had a one-night- stand in Israel long before this all happened, and he could sense even then that he had a story that needed being told. We are so pleased he did as it is impossible not to get wrapped up in this heart touching tale. So much so that by the end you can hardly restrain yourself from shouting out loud the answer as to who will love him now.
I SHOT MY LOVE: This documentary is even more personal for Tomer Heymann as it is about a weekend fling in Berlin that started to develop into a significant relationship between him and Andreas Merk, a German dancer. So much so that Andreas eventually decides to move to Tel-Aviv to live with Tomer. When he arrives however he discovers that not only has he to cope with a new partner, but also to manage the complex realities of life in Israel and his personal connection to it as a German citizen.
Andreas also has to deal with the fact that now Tomer is his mother’s only son who still lives in Israel. he must cope with her demands which make her an important part of their relationship.
This highly personal story does turn the viewer into something of a voyeur which will definitely appeal to highly inquisitive (i.e. nosey) audiences
THE QUEEN HAS NO CROWN: For this 2011 documentary Tomer Heymann turns the camera on his family again as they deal with the fact that sometimes fulfilling one’s dreams mean shattering other peoples. Three of his siblings have left Israel and taken their own families to start new lives in the US. Their unhappy mother …. a divorcee …. is left with her two bachelor sons, one of whom (Tomer) is gay.
Combining 8 and 16mm footage with his own work of a decade, Tomer shows how the strength of the Heymann Family depends on forces greater than the nuclear family itself. The result, “The Queen Has No Crown”, is a powerful and intimate portrait of one man, his family, and the world surrounding them.
Films will be shown at Congregation Etz Chaim (Equality Park – Rear Building), 2038 N. Dixie Hwy, Wilton Manors, FL 33305. https://www.stonewall-museum.org/projects/gay-jewish-film-series/