The Invisible Men (Gvarim Bilti Nor’im)
Yariv Mozer’s documentary focuses on the harrowing life of a gay Palestinian man named Louie who has eked out a rough existence in Tel Aviv. Threatened with death by his family - his face bears a scar left by his knife-wielding father - and beaten by the homophobic Palestinian police, Louie escapes into Israel. But the Israeli government does not grant asylum to Palestinian refugees, forcing Louie to live an illegal alien’s life for eight years. Nor is the local Arab Israeli community helpful - the anti-gay sentiment of this demographic, coupled with the presence of Louie’s cousins in Jaffa, adds to his paranoia and isolation. Louie’s only ally is an Israeli LGBT advocacy group, which works to find him asylum in a foreign country.
While the film focuses primarily on Louie, there are two other similar stories involving young gay men who escaped the homophobic violence of the West Bank for the unsteady safety of Tel Aviv. Their stories overlap Louie’s existence and reinforce the less civilized aspects of Palestinian culture.
Mozer’s directing style occasionally lapses into artsy visualizations (a sequence where Louie wanders the Tel Aviv streets and beachfront after evading a police arrest looks too carefully staged for dramatic effect) and there appear to be some gaps in recounting Louie’s Tel Aviv years (talk of Louie’s love life is extremely limited, while photos of Louie pumping iron in a gym and videos of pet dogs suggest some periods of financial and social stability).
Nonetheless, the film provides a very rare glimpse of a gay community forced into a terrifying and dehumanizing underground existence. The film’s happy fadeout, with Louie enjoying a new life in Norway, provides some assurance that he can finally enjoy life in a genuinely civilized surrounding.