After escaping from Iran where he was persecuted for being gay, Ramin (Arash Marandi) mistakenly takes the wrong freighter out of the port and ends up stranded in Vera Cruz Mexico. It is hardly the vibrant city that it once was and is now decaying and demoralised like so many of people who seem to be stranded there just him
Desperately lonely and unable to afford a passage back to Europe, Ramin grabs at the odd friendship of Leti (Flor Edwarda Gurrola) the receptionist at the small shabby hotel that is now home who he persuades to teach him Spanish.
Working as a casual labourer in a construction site one day Ranin meets up with Guillermo (Luis Alberto), a former gang member from El Salvador who has left his home country to escape a life of violence and crime. As the two men get close, Ramin is too scared to reveal his sexualiity even though he finds himself falling in love with this rough thug. It can only end in tears .
There is another relationship problem running parallel to that as when Leti finds out that her boyfriend (Eduardo Mendizábal) who abandoned her years ago to go to the United States, will return to Veracruz, she is totally confused about how that may disrupt her life again. Like Ramin she decides for her own survival the best option is to hide her true feelings.
The threat of violence is never that far away and for Ramin that stirs up too many memories of the life he left behind. He knows however that he has made his own bed, albeit somewhat reluctantly, and now must lie in it no matter how tough that is.
This sophomore feature film by by Iranian filmmaker Bani Khoshnoudi who lives in Mexico is a powerful tale about the difficulties of being true to oneself in what is frankly a very hostile environment. With a pitch perfect performance from Marandi as Ramin, we really feel the desperation faced by so many reluctant LGBT displaced around the globe .
PS. The title “Fireflies” is inspired by a 1975 op-ed by the late Italian filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini who described “the state of fascism and cultural resistance in Italy at the time, creating a metaphor for resistance as the disappearance of fireflies,” said Khoshnoudi.