A film about the gay bar Shushan, where people of opposing nationalities, religions and sexual orientations create an island of peace in a land divided by war.
CITY OF BORDERS follows the daily lives of five Israelis and Palestinians at Jerusalem’s only gay bar as they navigate the minefield of politics, religion and discrimination to live and love openly. Set against the construction of the separation wall between Israel and the Palestinian territories and the struggle for a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, these inter-woven stories reveal the contradictions and complexity of the struggle for acceptance.
“Everyone comes from their own ghetto and meets at Shushan,” says the bar owner Sa’ar Netanel, a secular Israeli and Jerusalem’s first openly gay city council member. His outspokenness has made Sa’ar a target of numerous death threats.
For devout Muslim Palestinian, Boody, going to Shushan means endangering his life in an illegal nighttime border crossing from the West Bank to Jerusalem. He creeps under razor wire, scales cement walls and dodges Israeli soldiers in order to reach the only place where he feels free to fully express himself.
Former Israeli soldier, Adam Russo, dances shirtless on stage, displaying visible scars on his chest and arms. In 2005, he was stabbed by an Orthodox Jew while marching at the head of Jerusalem’s gay pride parade.
On the dance floor, a Palestinian Israeli nurse, Samira Saraya, kisses her lover of four years, Ravit Geva, a Jewish Israeli doctor. Their union breaks two of Middle Eastern society’s biggest taboos: same-sex relations and intimacy between Jews and Arabs.
Outside of the bar, Jewish, Muslim and Christian groups, in a rare show of solidarity, strive to eliminate all demonstrations of gay identity through riots and death threats.
In observing the patrons’ daily fight for dignity and their very existence, this extremely relevant and inspiring documentary explores the bond forged when people from warring worlds embrace what they share in common rather than be divided by their differences.