One of the perks/joys of being a Movie Critic * is that we can easily get to see anything that is already being hyped as controversial or troublesome. In this case it is a particular episode of the brand new LITTLE AMERICA TV series that an alarmed queer media is protesting has been banned in certain countries just as it was released.
Thanks to the Press Office of APPLE TV we were sent a copy of the contentious episode called THE SON. It’s the heart-wrenching tale of Rafiq (Haaz Sleiman ) who is at home in Syria at a family celebration, when his phone buzzes to remind him he has an online hook up waiting for him. Using the feeble excuse that he has to go to the store to get some sugar, Rafiq makes his way to his secret destination and his hot date.
It’s afterwards when he is about to go home…….without the sugar….. that he unfortunately bumps into his angry father who has come looking for him.
The action then fast forwards three months and now Rafiq is hiding out in Damascus working in a Cafe displaying the gruesome burn marks down one his arm that had been inflicted by his father, causing him to want to disappear .
At the Cafe he meets Zain an openly gay man who befriends him and tries to encourage to take charge of his destiny. Zain has his own plans to go to the US and be a Hollywood star but even in Damascus Rafiq is not that free especially when his family discover and destroy his place of work.
Zain insists that Rafiq must immediately escape to Jordan and apply for a very rare United Nations Refugee Status which would allow him to safely resettle in the US. The trouble it can years to get a result from the UN, and the chances of being accepted are very rare indeed.
This short story co-written by Amrou Al- Khadi a British/Iraqi Muslim dragqueen/activist is a powerful and very emotional reminder of the plight of the LGBTQ community in Syria. Having gay sex can, at the very least, get you 3 years imprisonment, but is some really strict religious areas the Regime will torture and behead any LGBTQ person even.
The way that Rafiq’s family behaved was sadly very predictable as in their culture having a gay member will result in great shame on all of them and being ostracized in society,
We have no wish to give any spoilers to this perfect wee film, but there is a small interaction between father and son at the end that gave a tiny glimpse of joy …… if that is indeed the right word.
Credit to the entire team for this well-crafted story particularly to Haaz Sleiman, an openly gay Arab actor who moved to America from Lebanon as a young person and has carved out a very successful career in productions such us Nurse Jackie and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Being able to relate so well to his character, Sleiman’s pitch perfect performance was a sheer joy to watch
10 Muslim Countries …..plus Russia of course , have announced that they will not allow this episode of Little America to be screened. There is a slight irony in this however, as the film portrays the US as a safe haven for LGBTQ refugees, yet because of the current Travel Ban imposed by the current Administration, many of the actors in this production were not allowed to enter the country. Hence this film about freedom was shot entirely in Canada.
If you have been on the fence about subscribing to Apple TV then this must-see film is enough reason alone for you to immediately sign up.
P.S. You may like to check out this interview AMROU AL-KADHI gave to Queerguru in 2017 http://www.queerguru.com/amrou-al-kadhi-aka-glamrou-talks-to-queerguru/
- Queerguru is a member of G.A.L.E.C.A. : The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics