Sodom is now available on Dekkoo

It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship when former pianist Michael (Pip Brignall) happens upon 20-year-old soccer player Will (Jo Weil). It’s Will’s bachelor party – and his friends have left him naked and handcuffed to a lamppost.

Pip Brignall in Sodom – Coming Soon to Dekkoo

After rescuing him from this compromising situation, Michael takes Will home and an immediate attraction blossoms. But does Will, about to be married, have the courage to pursue his obvious interest in this elegant, attractive older man? Or will these guys merely pass in the night?

Pip Brignall and Jo Weil in Sodom – Coming Soon to Dekkoo

Sexy and intimate, the new British import, Sodom, features a pair of powerhouse performances from Jo Weil and newcomer Pip Brignall. Their connection is palpable from the second they share the screen together in this intimate and quietly emotional new must-see romance.

Pip Brignall and Jo Weil in Sodom – Coming Soon to Dekkoo

Check out the trailer below and skip on over to Dekkoo to watch the movie. It’s available right now.

An interview with Mark Wilshin, the director of ‘Sodom’

Following the tentative relationship that forms between two strangers – a twenty-year old footballer and a slightly older concert pianist – the new romance Sodom is coming to Dekkoo on August 30th. While we’re waiting, enjoy this interview with the film’s writer-director Mark Wilshin.

Pip Brignall and Jo Weil in Sodom – Coming Soon to Dekkoo

Where did the idea for the story for Sodom come from?

Well, as a first-time writer-director, I was very conscious of the fact that I had to write a film that could be produced on no budget. So the idea of the huis clos was there from the beginning, a very simple story of two men, one night and one location. But distilling into that night, two pivotal moments in the lives of two very different men. I’ve always admired this kind of intimate, quietly emotional film, and it seemed like it was something that would also be possible on a microbudget, while putting performance and emotional narrative to the fore.

For the title, you make no direct reference to the biblical story of Sodom. Why this title?

Well, in previous versions there was a biblical quotation, and even a brilliant quotation from Pauline Kael about watching old movies “Like Lot’s wife, we are tempted to take another look, attracted not by evil but by something that seems much more shameful – our own innocence.” But in the end, I decided to leave the interpretation of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah up to the audience. I was also quite fascinated by it as a title. It’s perhaps reminiscent of Pasolini’s Saló – powerful and provocative, but also conjures up images of Oscar Wilde and the 9th Marquess of Queensberry and the slurs that have been cast against the gay community for hundreds of years. It’s because of these connotations, that the title remains something of a taboo – Matteo Garrone, for example, chose Gomorra instead. There’s something implicitly “gay” about it, and so I felt it was important to kind of own that, by examining the darkness at the heart of sexuality. Which, for me, has nothing to do with sex, but with internalised feelings of homophobia that as individuals and as a community, we may still have to overcome.

Pip Brignall in Sodom – Coming Soon to Dekkoo

So, in what way do you think Sodom reflects the issues facing gay people today?

I think there is the feeling that, as we reach gay marriage and equality throughout the western world, that for gay men and women living in Europe there is nothing left to do. But I don’t agree with that. I think there is still a lot to do in terms of gay rights, particularly to do with how gay men perceive themselves and how they feel they are perceived by other people. But when Michael says, “I just want straight people to realize I could be you and you could be me”, that says as much about gay identity as it does about society. I think there’s a perception of tolerance, and while there is a general consensus of tolerance, as we’ve seen in the UK post-Brexit, hate crimes are on the increase.

The silent minority are revealing their true feelings. And silence doesn’t mean tolerance. We can’t be happy with just a majority, we have to keep going. We can’t stop until it’s not even a question any more. Despite its subject matter, Sodom wasn’t written for a gay audience; it’s a universal film designed to show some of the emotions and conflicts that we might have. I can’t speak for what other people may have gone through, so I wrote about my own experiences. And I hope for that reason it’s a very honest film.

It’s an autobiographical film then?

The film is autobiographical in many ways, but there are a lot of fictional elements woven in. Both the characters and stories are very personal in many ways, but it was the guts of the story – of a gay man living a straight lie – that was an important subject for me to broach. It’s very easy to be judgmental, but I wanted to try to be sympathetic towards the men and women who end up living those lives. And I wanted to bring Will as close to the other side, as close to self-acceptance or truth as possible. At the beginning he’s not really aware, you know. He’s young, having a good time and he doesn’t think too much about it. It’s not a big issue for him. And there’s a generational difference here between Michael and Will. As much as he says it’s not black or white, it’s much more like that for him, while the younger generation is perhaps more interested in the grey.

Perhaps that’s part of Will’s inability to embrace the label “gay”. Although for me, that isn’t something we should obscure, but rather something we should challenge ourselves to accept and be proud of.

Pip Brignall and Jo Weil in Sodom – Coming Soon to Dekkoo

But it’s not a gay film?

Sodom is a lot to do with these internalized feeling of homophobia and confusion. And in one way, it’s just a very simple non-coming-out story. But it’s also set in a time and place that is universal. We see modern gadgets such as mobile phones, but through the styling and costumes, we tried to keep it to a minimum to show that this is a universal story that keeps recurring. Of course, it still happens in the West. But even if it doesn’t happen in this unnamed city in 2016, it did still happen here previously. And if not here, then somewhere else.

In terms of Sodom being a universal film, yes, we see Will battling his demons and trying to find the courage to come out as a gay man. But it’s also a universal story of courage, about finding the courage to be who we are and to be true to oneself. I wrote a lot of the script about my journey towards becoming a filmmaker, and the invisible walls I would have to hurdle to make it. Coming out makes for a nice metaphor about realizing one’s dreams, about self-belief and trying to escape the confines of other people’s expectations. Trying to escape the closet of daily life and go beyond that, trying to cast myself out of that role and into a different one.

In that way, Sodom is about change and the ability to change. And while it’s not always easy, there is hope that change is possible, as long as we have the courage to see it through. I don’t think I could have made a film if my first feature hadn’t been about courage in some way. There are so many insecurities and doubts when making this kind of fundamental life-change. But I was always confronted with a story reminding me not to give up. Or turn back.

Like Lot’s wife, you mean?

Yes, this idea of turning back is central to Sodom. It comes of course from the biblical story of Sodom where Lot and his wife are chosen by angels to leave their sinful town of Sodom before God destroys it. They head for the hills with their daughters, and when Lot’s wife looks back at the destruction, she is turned into a pillar of salt. Perhaps for disobeying a command from God, perhaps regretting the life she’s leaving behind or perhaps unable to take her eyes off this divine destruction. But this idea of looking back is very important to the film. It happens throughout the film as Will hesitates between staying and leaving. Even at the end, when he makes his final decision to leave, it’s not 100% final. He doesn’t go back this time, but he looks back and sees the destruction he’s leaving behind. And he sees the attraction in another man’s eyes. He crawls back into a life that no longer fits him, but that night has become part of him. And it’s a part of him he can no longer deny. Something in him has died. His innocence perhaps. Like a metaphorical pillar of salt.

Pip Brignall and Jo Weil in Sodom – Coming Soon to Dekkoo

Salt is more than just a metaphor in the film though?

It’s a strange metaphor – that can have a lot of (often contradictory) meanings all at once. There’s Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt” for example, the novel that Carol is based on, but salt in the novel is barely even mentioned. And yet it’s something to do with courage, identity and sex.

In Sodom though, salt is littered throughout the film. There’s the salt of the tequila, and the salt they both reach for. And in some ways it refers to the biblical use of salt – as a sign of hospitality. But it’s also to recognize salt as a life-giving force. Without it we have no ability to move our muscles or send electrical impulses to the brain, so it’s a very important element in terms of human activity, both for the body and for the mind.

The saltwater fantasies tie into the idea of the pillar of salt that Lot’s wife is turned into. Both Will and Michael become infused with salt, and these moments that flash before their eyes only occur when there’s an intimate exchange. They both exist on this other plane beyond the goings on in the apartment, this sea of love, which petrifies in Will as he heads down into the underground.

And so Michael is destroyed, like the Cities of the Plain?

Yes, only not by God but by man. Michael tells us a lot about his coming out and his perceptions of being gay, but there are other parts of his character that remain hidden. Michael doesn’t reveal himself. He’s a private person suffering from his own grief. And we’re never quite sure how much of his story about Peter is true or not. Before he meets Will, he’s picking up straight tourists on the street – the very definition of non-committal. But through Will he’s able to open himself up to relationships again. Still, it was important for me that his partner had died. As within this apartment, which may or may not even exist, there’s a whole encapsulation of gay culture, and death is part of that. Whether we lived through the AIDS crisis or not, it’s still present, and still part of the culture that we take on.

It was also important for me to have a kind of fraternity between them. The suggestion of a kind of gay community through their mentor-protégé relationship, which seldom exists in the gay world, but which could be a positive force for good for young men and women coming out. There’s the possibility that Will and Michael could be two halves of the same person, the younger self and the older self. In a way, it’s an internal conversation between two halves of the brain about what as a younger person you might want to hear from your older self.

Pip Brignall and Jo Weil in Sodom – Coming Soon to Dekkoo

We almost see that when Will’s reflection overlaps his vision of Michael on the balcony.

Yes, and it comes at a pivotal moment after Will is no longer able to deny the truth. It’s slightly cruel of Michael to force Will in this way into accepting himself, but there’s also a long history of gay men being tested with fantasy images to uncover their hidden sexuality. And these fantasies also tie into a wider theme of seeing and vision in the film. We see Will wearing eye makeup from the beginning. Yes, he’s on his stag do, naked and tied to a lamppost, stripped of the wedding dress he would have been wearing, but the makeup highlights his eyes. And seeing is a theme that recurs with things like the lights on the ceiling or Michael’s references to cinema, also on the balcony and when Will is handcuffed to the stool. He alludes to cinema a couple of times which, for me, was a way to position the film within its own fantasy space, but to also highlight the film’s intentions, somewhere in between naturalistic, observational drama and something more story driven. Michael says to look through the windows into the darkness and there’s an idea that Sodom, or cinema in general, isn’t all about the bright lights of action and activity. But it’s the small stories in the dark that are important, that reveal something about who we are.

Is this how you see the fantasies? As a film within a film?

I think the fantasies are a little unconventional in this modern age of naturalistic cinema. But for me it was very important to include them, because I think the way sexuality is developed is largely through fantasy and visions of desire. Sexuality is a construct that comes first through mental processes before finding its way into action. And the fantasies relate to that. Will’s sexuality develops through fantasies of Michael, but also through seeing himself as an object. The way that we see him at the lamppost. And in Sodom there’s a conscious objectification of men, through each other, as a kind of re-balance to the objectification of women in cinema. I don’t think it’s possible, where desire or the sexual gaze is concerned, to prevent people from becoming objectified. But I think we can accept objectification as a corollary of desire. And it can become equalized in terms of sexual relationships, where we are simultaneously both subject and object.

Jo Weil in Sodom – Coming Soon to Dekkoo

There are a lot of dialectics in the film. To what extent is Sodom a European film?

I think for Will, Michael and his apartment represents a world he couldn’t even dream of. But that’s perhaps more a question of their class difference than their nationalities. I think though it is possible to read Sodom as a post-Brexit film, as the story of a British man who comes to Europe, flirts with it, but who ultimately is unable to enter into a relationship with it.

The film itself though could hardly be more European; I’m a Brit, living in Berlin; the film is both German and British; and the crew was made up of people from all over Europe – Ireland, France, Italy, Switzerland and Russia. More than that though, I think Sodom challenges perceptions of gay and straight. We know nothing about Will at the beginning, except that he’s wearing make-up. So maybe we make assumptions about that. Already within the script, the film broaches the subject of being gay and looking gay, and this idea of conforming to the straight model – whether that’s through echoing straight ideals of family and marriage or the current trend of hyper-masculinity. We might think Will’s just in denial, but I think it’s more complex than that. I think both characters challenge the black-and-white thinking of sexuality in different ways. At least I hope they do.

So what’s next? Will we see a second feature?

I hope so. I’m currently working on a screenplay, similar in many ways, only perhaps even more stringent – with one principle character rather than two. It takes place over one day, the last day in the life of Montgomery Clift. And while Sodom is a film about courage and shame, this will be a film about pride. It’s about the conflict between wanting to be out, and the impossibility of it. As in this case, it would blow away an acting career. Which of course, is an issue that still exists today. It’s the conflict between doing what you want and being who you are. Which of course, nowadays is a conflict no-one should have to face just because they’re gay. But the self-hatred then was so internalized, it caused personalities to splinter.

 

Dekkoo Exclusive: M/M

Matthias lives in Berlin. Matthias likes techno. Matthew likes Matthias. Matthew wants Matthias. Matthew wants to be Matthias. You can see how it all plays out in the intense (and intensely erotic) new drama M/M – now available to stream exclusively on Dekkoo.

M/M is the debut feature film from Canadian-born, Berlin-based writer/director Drew Lint. In association with Lint, it was produced by Karen Harnisch of Film Forge Productions, the Toronto-based production company behind the Cannes Critics’ Week favorite Sleeping Giant. Filmed in 2015 and featuring breakout dramatic performances from Antoine Lahaie and Nicolas Maxim Endlicher, M/M premiered in competition at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in January.

Antoine Lahaie and Nicolas Maxim Endlicher in M/M

Matthew (Lahaie) is a young Canadian new to Berlin. He’s come to make a fresh start, but he feels the isolation of living in a strange, new city. When he meets Matthias (Endlicher), he is entranced. Beautiful and charismatic, Matthias is everything Matthew wants to be.

Soon Matthew’s interest escalates, becoming an obsession. He begins to transform himself to embody the object of his desire, cutting his hair, getting new clothes. When Matthias gets into a motorcycle accident, the opportunity is too perfect. Matthew is Matthias. In a coma in the hospital, Matthias’ waking life, dreams and memories blur. Where the real ends, the artificial begins. Meanwhile, Matthew sinks deeper and deeper into his new surroundings. When Matthias wakes and confronts him, they embark a new a strange final chapter.

Nicolas Maxim Endlicher in M/M

M/M is a film of unique contrasts. Hot queer bodies are entangled together against the heavy grey sky of Berlin. Extreme explorations of identity and desire feel nevertheless familiar. It is surreal but completely grounded in truth and naturalism. Pulsing techno draws you in and washes over you. It the kind of movie that is better experienced than explained.

The movie is also a labor of love. “We made the film with a tiny budget, cobbled together with crowdfunding, some small private investments, and the incredible contributions of key crew who were determined to get it in the can,” said director Lint. “We shot run-and-gun on the streets and in the subway, shooting in doorways, public toilets and abandoned buildings. We adapted to every situation. True to the DIY spirit of Berlin, we persevered and managed to make the film we wanted to make, begging and borrowing when we had to. It was guerrilla shooting at its finest.”

Nicolas Maxim Endlicher in M/M

You can watch M/M right now on Dekkoo. Check out the trailer below.

 

Revisit the controversial 1994 drama ‘Priest’

Not quite as incendiary as it was when it was first released in 1994, or as the theme might suggest, Priest tells the moving, truly provocative story of one clergyman’s struggle for sexual identity and religious idealism.

Linus Roache gives a stirring performance as Father Greg, a newly transferred priest assigned to a parish in a working-class neighborhood of Liverpool. As he comes into conflict with the liberal Father Matthew (Tom Wilkinson, terrific as always), whi is having a scandalous affair with the housekeeper (Cathy Tyson), Father Greg tries to come to terms with his emerging sexuality.

As the heart of this classic film is also the touching story of a sexually abused teen (Christine Tremarco) who confides in Father Greg, thus engaging him in a crisis on conscience.

Tom Wilkinson and Linus Roache in Priest - Now Streaming on Dekkoo

A remarkably compelling debate on religious dogma, one intended to provoke thought and stir your emotions, Priest made a whole lot of waves when its premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (where it won the People’s Choice Award) back in 1994 – and went onto a wide release in early 1995. The film was loudly condemned by the Catholic Church in Ireland, who called for a ban. Using sound judgement, the Irish Film Censor Board decided to go ahead and allow it to be released… on Easter weekend, no less. This marked one of the first major disagreements between the Church and the Board.

Priest is streaming now on Dekkoo.

Original Poster Art for Priest - Now Streaming on Dekkoo

 

 

Get ‘Woke’ on Dekkoo!

Winner of the “Best Web Series” award at the La Rochelle Fiction Festival in 2017 and the “Best LGBT Series” award at the UK Web Fest that same year, the gay drama series Woke (originally titled Les Engages) is now available to watch on Dekkoo!

Mehdi Meskar and Eric Pucheu in Woke: Season One (Les Engages) – now streaming on Dekkoo

The show follows Hicham (Mehdi Meskar), who runs away from his home and comes to Lyon looking for Thibaut (Eric Pucheu), an attractive young man who had tried to kiss him just a few years before… and left a lasting impression.

Mehdi Meskar and Eric Pucheu in Woke: Season One (Les Engages) – now streaming on Dekkoo

Thibaut is an activist at the local LGBT Community Center. Hicham soon discovers his world. As his process of self-discovery unfolds, Hicham’s initial apprehension soon turns to enthusiasm. However, he soon comes to find that Thibaut isn’t exactly the person he appears to be.

Mehdi Meskar and Eric Pucheu in Woke: Season One (Les Engages) – now streaming on Dekkoo

Check out the trailer below and catch up on all the action on Dekkoo – where all ten episodes of the first season are now streaming.

Just added: ‘Off Beat’

Off Beat follows 26-year-old Lukas (Hans-Jakob Mühlethaler), who is not so much living as floating.

His dream of making it as a musician is on the wane and his great passion – freestyle hip-hop – has also past its heyday. Lukas lives with his producer, 46-year-old Mischa (Domenico Pecoraio), in an old loft where they cultivate cannabis. They have been having a turbulent affair for years – but this is a closely guarded secret.

Hans-Jakob Mühlethaler in Off Beat - Now Streaming on Dekkoo

Lukas has grown cold inside and only really feels himself in moments of excess. Drunk and coked-up to the eyeballs, he toils his way through a gig in a small club. In the audience his sixteen-year-old brother Sämi (Manuel Neuburger), an ambitious rapper himself, feels nothing but shame for his brother’s embarrassing performance.

Mischa decides that he has had enough of Lukas’ escapades and suggests they ask Sämi to join the band. Sensing that he is about to be substituted, Lukas gets out of his head and starts to take back control of his life.

Jan Gassmann's Off Beat - Original Film Festival Poster Art

A gritty drama that shines a spotlight on a corner of closeted gay life not often seen on film, Swiss writer-director Jan Gassmann’s Off Beat is now streaming on Dekkoo. Check out the trailer below.

Watch the short (soon to be feature) film Breaking Fast

Well-received by critics, audiences and juries at film festivals all around the globe, writer-director Mike Mosallam‘s short film Breaking Fast is currently on the path to becoming a feature film. The original short is now available on Dekkoo!

Ryan P. Shrime and Tom Berklund in Breaking Fast

The 17-minute short follows Mo (Ryan P. Shrime), an Arab-American Muslim man dealing with heartbreak. Soon into the film, Mo meets Kal (Tom Berklund), a very sweet and attractive All-American dude. At first, Mo assumes that the two of them will have little to nothing in common. To his great surprise, however, Kal offers to break fast with him during the month of Ramadan. As the two men learn more and more about each other, they begin to fall in love.

Ryan P. Shrime in Breaking Fast

“My intention was to tell a story that my friends and I could see ourselves in – one that spoke to the nuances of daily life and treated identity: religious, sexual, gender and otherwise, as harmonious lenses by which individuals interact with the world around them,” said Mosallam during an interview with the Arab Film Festival, where he was selected as a juror. “When a friend asked what characters in modern cinema I felt best represented my journey, as a Muslim, I was at a complete loss to name one.”

Mosallam is working to change that in ways both big and small – and Breaking Fast is certainly a step in the right direction. Check out the trailer below and make sure to watch the film on Dekkoo.

Artist Paul Harfleet turns Pansies into Power

Watch Pansy now on Dekkoo!

Artist Paul Harfleet’s family had always accepted his sexuality, but it was a different story outside the home. Like many young gay people, he regularly faced abuse. So, like any artist worth his salt, he turned that trauma into something brilliant: The Pansy Project.

The Pansy Project; Pansy Documentary

Harfleet plants pansies at sites where some form of homophobic abuse has taken place. He’ll go to the location, find the nearest source of soil and (generally without civic permission – ssshhh!) plants one unmarked pansy. The flower is then photographed (beautifully, we might add), uploaded to his website, given a title inspired by the abuse. Titles like “Let’s kill the Bati-Man!” and “Fucking Faggot!” reveal a frequent reality of the gay experience, which often goes unreported to authorities and by the media in certain parts of the world.

Paul Harfleet's The Pansy Project; Pansy Documentary

This simple action operates as a gesture of quiet resistance. Some pansies flourish, while others wilt. The artist began by planting pansies to mark his own experience of homophobia on the streets of Manchester, but now he plants them for others both on an individual basis and as part of various festivals and events.

Harfleet has visited cities all over Europe. To date, he has planted almost 300 individual pansies. His photographs have been exhibited internationally in Berlin, Paris, London and his hometown of Manchester, where the project began.

Paul Harfleet's The Pansy Project; Pansy Documentary

Following Harfleet as he brings the project to France for the first time, the new documentary Pansy is now streaming on Dekkoo. From Paris to Marseille, via Lille, Strasbourg and Avignon, Harfleet goes searching for testimonies and exposes the prejudices and discrimination gay people still face.

Check out the trailer for Pansy below and make sure to watch the full film on Dekkoo.

Head down the rabbit hole with Tor Iben’s newest thriller The Year I Lost My Mind

Tom (Alexander Tsypilev) is a lonely young man. While carrying out a burglary he falls in love with Lars (Julien Lickert), a young history teacher. Tom starts to stalk Lars and pursue him without revealing himself… or feelings for him.

Meanwhile, Tom is developing a second obsession with a biker – whom, strangely, he seems to keep running into. More and more Tom gets lost inside a dangerous, real-life game of hide-and-seek and a labyrinth of passions. Once Lars becomes aware of Tom’s creeping presence, things take an even wilder turn.

The_Year_I_Lost_My_Mind_1

A new thriller from Tor Iben, the German director behind The Passenger and The Visitor (both of which are also now on Dekkoo), The Year I Lost My Mind is sexy and unsettling in equal measure.

“This movie is an attempt to look into the abyss of gay history and trace the marks that this history has left,” said Iben, continuing “this project is for everybody who loves dark stories, dark movies with an artistic touch or anyone who thinks this kind of movie, this kind of attempt, has to be supported!”

The_Year_I_Lost_My_Mind_2

Check out the trailer for The Year I Lost My Mind below. It’s available right now on Dekkoo.

Dekkoo Films to deliver ‘The Year I Lost My Mind’ exclusively June 28!

From prolific gay director Tor Iben and Dekkoo Films comes, ‘The Year I Lost My Mind’, a gay thriller about a lonely young man who becomes dangerously obsessed with a stranger. The film launches exclusively on Dekkoo next week, months before it will be available on DVD or iTunes.

Check out the trailer below or over at the Dekkoo YouTube channel.

In the meantime, check out Tor Iben’s film ‘The Passenger’ which is also available on Dekkoo.

‘The Year I Lost My Mind’ arrives on June 28.