Now Available: Fireflies

Ramin (Arash Marandi), an Iranian refugee living in Mexico, is trying to come to terms with his past, one that has left permanent scars on his body and soul. As he strolls through the port of Veracruz – a place where transient souls collide in search of a better life – the haunting memories of his long-distance lover begin to fill his heart with a profound sense of loneliness and repentance.

Ramin’s friendship with Leti (Flor Eduarda Gurrola), the young woman who runs the small hotel where he stays and teaches him Spanish, and an attraction to ex-con Guillermo (Luis Alberti) help him find himself as a gay man in a new home.

Beautifully shot and strikingly naturalistic, writer-director Bani Khoshnoudi’s touching cross-cultural drama Fireflies won the top prize in the Ibero-American Competition at the Miami Film Festival. Watch the trailer below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

Don’t Miss the Critically-Acclaimed Doc Mala Mala

Mala Mala, the critically acclaimed documentary from directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles, explores the intimate moments, performances, friendships and activism of trans identifying people, drag queens and others who defy typical gender identities in Puerto Rico.

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The film features Ivana, an activist; Soraya, an older sex-change pioneer; Sandy, a prostitute looking to make a change; and Samantha and Paxx, both of whom struggle with the quality of medical resources available to assist in their transition.

Still from Mala Mala

Hailed as “sensitive and thoughtful” by the New York Times  and winner of the audience award for documentary film at the Tribeca Film Festival, Mala Mala is a deeply involving piece of work which boldly affirms that the quest to find oneself can be both difficult and beautiful.

Still from Mala Mala

Watch the trailer for Mala Mala below. The film is currently available to stream on Dekkoo.

Eyes Wide Open is an extraordinary portrait of forbidden love

Powerfully moving and quietly humane, Eyes Wide Open, Haim Tabakman’s, debut feature is an extraordinary portrait of forbidden love in an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem community.

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Aaron (Zohar Strauss) leads a quiet life. Each day he heads from his tidy apartment where he lives with his four children and his wife Rivka (played by an actress with the unlikely name of Tinkerbell) to his butcher-shop to his synagogue to pray.

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Aaron is a tzaddik, a righteous man, and when Ezri (Ran Danker), a beautiful twenty-something man arrives at his shop in a rainstorm looking for shelter, he gives it. But something more happens as sexual desire develops between the two men. Ezri wants to kiss Aaron, but Aaron tells Ezri that it’s a challenge for them to pray about. Ezri takes Aaron to a spring outside the city, and desire bubbles to the surface between the two men.

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As their gay love is consummated, the love between Aaron and Rivka becomes troubled. And a self-appointed “God-squad” of Jewish thugs warns Aaron that Ezri is a they don’t want in their neighborhood.

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Beautifully insightful and almost delicate in its storytelling, Eyes Wide Open, is a stunningly essential film in the cannon of queer filmmaking. With not an extra word, frame or movement, director Haim Tabakman and screenwriter Merav Doster craft a truly gorgeous and unforgettable film.

Eyes Wide Open is available now on Dekkoo.

We can’t recommend the gorgeous historical romance The Circle more highly

Part documentary, part narrative feature film, The Circle is a moving tribute to a life-long relationship that overcame intense obstacles and an insightful look at an important chapter in gay history.

Sven Schelker and Matthias Hungerbühler in The Circle

Winner of the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Festival, The Circle tells the true story of Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, a schoolteacher and a drag entertainer, who met through their participation in a social network of gay men that developed in Zurich in the 1940s and 1950s. The two began romantic relationship. Interviews with them and other survivors and experts on the era are interspersed with documentary film and photographs as well as a scripted dramatic enactment of the story.

Sven Schelker and Matthias Hungerbühler in The Circle

Founded in the early ’40s, the network around the magazine ‘Der Kreis’ (‘The Circle’) was the only gay organisation to survive the Nazi regime. It blossomed during the post-war years into an internationally renowned underground club.

Sven Schelker in The Circle

Legendary masked balls at the Theater am Neumarkt in Zurich provided visitors from all over Europe with a secret and safe space to act out their ‘otherness’ in a self-determined way. It is there that timid teacher Ostertag falls in love with drag star Rapp. Ernst searches for a way to fight for his gayness to be accepted as normal outside the boundaries of ‘The Circle’ network without losing his employment as a teacher. Röbi champions the joint fruition of their love.

Matthias Hungerbühler in The Circle

Following a murder in the gay community, violent repression against gay people also endangers ‘The Circle’ network. Stefan Haupt’s riveting film uncovers the fascinating universe of one of the first gay liberation communities. Enriched by impressive conversational records with Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, the film depicts a decades-long love story – made taboo by society – and reveals the couple’s inspiring self-knowledge and courage.

The real life Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp

Watch the trailer for The Circle below. It’s now available on Dekkoo.

A bold and harrowing gay classic comes to Dekkoo

Adapted by playwright Martin Sherman from his groundbreaking play of the same name, Bent employs an impressive cast of familiar faces to tell a painful personal story about the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany.

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In 1930s Berlin, Max (Clive Owen) sleeps with German SA officer Wolf (future “Game of Thrones” star Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), only to see him killed by his fellow Nazis the next morning as part of the “Night of the Long Knives.”

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Refusing an offer of new papers from his Uncle Freddie (Ian McKellen) for fear of leaving his boyfriend Rudy (Brian Webber) behind, Max and Rudy are found by the Gestapo, to whom Max lies about his homosexuality and his relationship. He is soon sent to Dachau, where he meets and falls in love with Horst (Lothaire Bluteau), who shows him the dignity that lies in acknowledging one’s beliefs, even in the face of incomprehensible persecution.

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Originally staged as a Royal Court production in 1979, starring Ian McKellen and Tom Bell, which later transferred to the West End, Bent earned major acclaim right out of the gate. Richard Gere played Max in the original 1980 Broadway production. In 1989, Sean Mathias, the film’s director, helmed a revival of the play, performed as a one-night benefit for Stonewall, featuring Ian McKellen, Richard E Grant, Ian Charleson and Ralph Fiennes. After receiving critical acclaim, Mathias directed a full, award-winning run in 1990 – priming him to head up the film adaptation to come.

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Also co-starring Mick Jagger, Jude Law, Rupert Graves, Paul Bettany, Sadie Frost and Rachel Weisz, Bent is an unparalleled gay classic that deserves to be seen. Released in 1997, the film has long been unavailable… until now. Bent is currently streaming on Dekkoo.

Two estranged gay brothers reconnect in the emotional drama Tiger Orange

The indie drama Tiger Orange follows Chet (Mark Strano) and Todd (Frankie Valenti, better known to some fans as gay adult film superstar Johnny Hazzard), two estranged gay brothers who grew up in a small town in Central California to a homophobic, working class single father.

Frankie Valenti aka Johnny Hazzard in Tiger Orage

Now adults, the two could not have turned out more differently. Chet, the older brother, runs the family hardware store and still lives in their childhood home where he’s cared for their ailing father until his recent death. Todd ran off to Los Angeles at eighteen and never looked back. He’s burned the candle at both ends his entire life and now homeless, with no cash, he heads back up the coast to the home and the brother he left behind.

The surprise visit shakes up Chet’s safe and guarded life and the two of them living under one roof becomes a recipe for disaster. Soon Todd is stirring up trouble in town with his sexual misadventures and in-your-face bravado and Chet struggles to keep him in check while slowly unraveling himself.

Mark Strano aka Johnny Hazzard in Tiger Orage

As their long-simmering resentments boil to the surface, the brothers are forced to not only hash out their differences but begin to examine the common bond they never truly acknowledged.

Director, Wade Gasque, produced and co-wrote the film with Strano, his longtime partner. Strano won the Outfest 2014 Grand Jury Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film. Speaking about his motivation for making Tiger Orange, Gasque said “I have a handful of gay sibling friends and I’ve always been fascinated by their stories but I’ve never seen a movie about them. What was it like growing up together? Does it make the experience less isolating?”

Frankie Valenti aka Johnny Hazzard in Tiger Orage

Taking about casting beloved porn star Johnny Hazzard, credited here as Frankie Valenti, Gasque said ““This wasn’t some flashy, no-brainer kind of role. These brothers are broken and volatile. Frankie stretched himself. He put himself out there as an actor and showed real vulnerability. He took risks and I think his fans are going to be blown away by his performance.”

You can watch the trailer for Tiger Orange below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

The romantic gay classic Come Undone still holds up almost 20 years later

Gorgeous bronzed bodies on the beaches of southern France and a passionate romance between two French teens are reason enough to see Come Undone, but this bittersweet, turn-of-the-millennium gay classic also has some profound things to say about the heartbreak of gay first love.

Eighteen-year-old Mathieu (Jérémie Elkaïm) is vacationing at the beach with his family when he meets local teen Cedric (Stéphane Rideau). After an extremely erotic kiss, the boys begin a hot and heavy affair, complete with skinny-dipping at night, nude dancing on the beach and intense lovemaking in the dunes. Yet as Mathieu grapples with his sexuality – and copes with his sick mother, absent father and a characteristically annoying little kid sister – his bond with Cedric grows stronger… until, like so many first loves before and since, it bursts.

Released to critical acclaim in 2000, Come Undone, directed and co-written by Sebastien Lifshitz, beautifully conveys Mathieu’s coming-of-age (a scene in which he comes out to his mother is still quite moving almost 20 years later). Both lead actors, Stéphane Rideau and Jérémie Elkaïm, are incredibly charismatic and give remarkable performances as the affectionate teens.

If you’ve never seen it before – or are just looking to dip your toes back in – Dekkoo has you covered. Come Undone is available now.