Short Film Spotlight: Cognitive

What if growing up in the Church led you to believe that you weren’t really going to grow up at all?

Young David, played as a little kid by Zakary Risinger, interprets something he hears from the pulpit by a homophobic, Southern Baptist preacher (Del Shores) that changes his outlook on life.

As an adult, David, now played by writer-director Mat Hayes, takes his family to a more progressive church, but despite Reverend Wynn’s (Jessalyn Gilsig) inspiring sermon on true love, David struggles to overcome the trauma inflicted upon him as a young boy at the hands of the church.

Will he be able to find peace with the religion he was raised in? Daniel Robaire, as David’s husband Jonathan, offers the love we all look for in a partner. Erica Tazel delivers a gripping performance as Young David’s school nurse, rounding out the stellar ensemble of actors.

Watch the trailer for Cognitive below. This short film is available now on Dekkoo.

Pride Month Spotlight: Church & State

A surprise federal court ruling in 2013 legalized gay marriage for Utah – triggering a fierce battle in a state where Mormon church values control the Legislature and every aspect of public life.

Church & State, the bold, award-winning documentary from co-directors Holly Tuckett and Kendall Wilcox, tells the improbable story of a brash, inexperienced gay activist and a tiny Salt Lake City law firm that joined forces to topple Utah’s gay marriage ban.

The film’s ride on the bumpy road to equality in Utah offers a glimpse at the Mormon Church’s influence in state politics and the squabbles inside the gay community that nearly derailed a chance to make history.

Church & State is a story of triumph, setback and a little-known lawsuit that should have failed, but instead paved the way for the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay unions nationwide.

Watch the trailer for Church & State below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

Now Available: My Big Gay Jewish Conversion

Is Israel really the best place in the world to be gay? And is Judaism the one mainstream religion that accepts homosexuality? Meet Simon, a gay Catholic man from the West of Ireland on a quest to find out.

Simon has never truly felt accepted by his own church, a problem that Matthew, his Jewish boyfriend from North London, has never had to face. Simon begins to wonder if the grass may be greener, and considers converting. He starts with a trip to the local Rabbi where they chat, among other things, about getting ‘snipped’, but Simon is itching to get to Judaism’s homeland: Israel. He hops on a plane and first hits the streets of Tel Aviv, ‘the gayest city on Earth’, where he meets gay people from all walks of life, including gay soldiers in the IDF. Then he heads to Jerusalem, where the story here is very different. Extreme views towards homosexuality are rife and Simon encounters this at an uncomfortably close proximity. Then, it’s crunch time. Faced with the facts, will Simon jump ship and become Jewish?

A deeply personal, cross-cultural documentary from filmmaker (and subject) Simon Atkins, My Big Gay Jewish Conversion looks at love, relationship and religion with an intelligent and introspective eye.

Watch the trailer for My Big Gay Jewish Conversion below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

Watch a short clip from the powerful new drama Label Me

No kissing. No passive penetration. For Waseem (Renato Schuch) the rules are very clear. Its only when Lars (Nikolaus Benda) pays him for sex that he can sleep with a man and still feel secure in his heterosexuality.

One of these men is a refugee from Syria living in a shelter, the other is a wealthy German with a loft apartment – the differences couldn’t be more apparent and yet both men find themselves connected by a sincere interest in one another. Their relationship is rooted in a constant alternation between dominance and a longing for closeness. The playful power struggle between the two of them reveals their inability to hide their fears and longings – and to keep up their carefully constructed facades.

While both men struggle to uphold the labels they keep in their heads, their friendship starts to pose a very realistic threat within the Waseem’s shelter.

Not quite a short film, yet not quite a feature (at sixty minutes) the multiple award-winning Label Me is a powerful cross-cultural romantic drama from German writer-director Kai Kreuser. Label Me is currently available to watch on Dekkoo, along with the first two season’s of Kreuser’s sexy and provocative gay series Kuntergrau.

Watch a short clip from Label Me below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 2/14/20

Lars, a male nurse from Saarbrücken, moves with his lover Roland to Berlin. They renovate an apartment with the intention of finally living together. Their happiness seems almost complete. What Roland doesn’t know: while secretly checking out Berlin’s night life, Lars is experimenting with a deadly poison. ‘Darkroom’ is available to stream now, exclusively on Dekkoo!

In this gay short a man searches to reconcile his faith and his sexuality. Stream ‘Cognitive’ now on Dekkoo!

In this fish-out-of-water comedy a conservative Southern mom discovers that her only son is gay. Determined that he won’t go through life alone, she sets out to find him a husband. Watch ‘You Should Meet My Son’ on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week – A story about getting everything wrong.

Now Available: Men of Hard Skin

Teenager Ariel (Will Javier) lives a seemingly quiet life with his father and sister on their picturesque farm in a rural part of Buenos Aires. However, unbeknownst to his family, Ariel has been abused for years by Omar (German Tarantino), his neighborhood priest.

Still from Men of Hard Skin

Having confused his mistreatment for romantic affection, Ariel takes it upon himself to free himself from their relationship and soon embarks on a secret affair with one of the male workers on his father’s property.

Still from Men of Hard Skin

Meanwhile, as Omar continues to succumb to his urges, he forms a friendship with a much older priest who finds himself wrestling with similar desires.

Still from Men of Hard Skin

Hard-hitting and defiantly unsentimental, the new Argentinian drama Men of Hard Skin is a richly textured exploration of sex, power and ecclesiastical abuse as well as a complex and often confrontational piece of work, posing many tough questions.

Still from Men of Hard Skin

Watch the trailer for Men of Hard Skin below. The film is now available on Dekkoo.

New This Week – 9/13/19

‘The Sunday Sessions’ is an intimate portrait of one man’s struggle to reconcile his religious conviction and sexual identity. Stream it now on Dekkoo!

Set in New Zealand in the early 1960s, this stylish story of family, revenge and forbidden love follows a young cowboy who drifts into a small town and starts falling in love with the local farmer’s son. As the two young men grow closer, they learn to stop fighting their desires and to start fighting their demons instead. Watch ‘West of Eden’ now on Dekkoo!

At the beach with his mother, young Pedro stumbles upon a hidden sexual playground. Stream the gay short film ‘Pedro’ on Dekkoo!

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Coming next week: After an unexpected delay, Mr. Leather returns!

Pride Month Spotlight: Naz & Maalik

In this riveting dramatic tale, gay teens Naz and Maalik are friends, classmates, business partners and lovers. As the two closeted Muslim teens go about their regular daily routine on a Friday afternoon in Brooklyn they arouse the suspicions of an undercover FBI agent who begins to track them.

Kerwin Johnson Jr. and Curtiss Cook Jr. in Naz & Maalik

This complex tale of race, religion and sexuality features a pair of tremendous performances from lead actors Kerwin Johnson Jr. and Curtiss Cook Jr. Intimate and meditative, Naz & Maalik examines the mysterious forces that animate teenage minds.

Kerwin Johnson Jr. and Curtiss Cook Jr. in Naz & Maalik

An exceptionally well-crafted drama, and an auspicious feature debut from writer-director Jay Dockendorf, Naz & Maalik is now available on Dekkoo – one of our Pride Month selections. Check out the trailer below.

Kerwin Johnson Jr. and Curtiss Cook Jr. in Naz & Maalik

New This Week – 6/7/19

A surprise federal court ruling in 2013 legalized gay marriage for Utah – triggering a fierce battle in a state where Mormon church values control the Legislature and every aspect of public life. ‘Church & State’ is available to stream now as part of our 2019 Pride Celebration.

Hassan Kendricks is a conflicted teenager torn between his devotion to his single mother and his desire to be himself. When his mother, Andrea, finds women’s underwear and a flyer to a Gay Ball in her son’s bedroom, she decides to track Hassan down and confront him about his decisions. Stream the gay short “Walk For Me’ now on Dekkoo.

In the first Australian feature film to showcase Auslan (Australian sign language) a sensitive writer grapples with a speech impediment as his profoundly deaf boyfriend provides strategies to restore his confidence. Watch ‘A Silent Agreement’ now playing on Dekkoo.

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Coming next week: Dekkoo Films presents ‘Faces’.

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.