Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Provided
Uniquely homoerotic drama Martyr is to get a UK release this March through Peccadillo Pictures, it has been announced.
Shot by Lebanese director Mazen Khaled, the 2018 film will premiere on Curzon Home Cinema on 12 March.
The crushingly emotional film will drop on other platforms and be available as a DVD from 22 March.
"Young people are literally jumping out of society into their freedom"
Martyr follows the handsome and despondent Hassane (Hamza Mekdad) and his intensely close inner circle of male friends.
When frustration over poverty and lack of life opportunities prompts a tragic event on Beirut’s waterfront promenade, the group’s bond grows deeper - while one member's secret longing comes to the fore.
In a statement to Attitude, Khaled said: "Beirut is a Mediterranean city, with a waterfront promenade that we lovingly refer to as the Corniche. It is lined with a balustrade [railings] from which diving off is dangerous local activity, performed with crowds watching and cheering.
"Once two young men died performing, trying to please a crowd. Why did they do that? It hit me that the balustrade is the borderline of the city. Those young people are literally jumping out of society into their freedom.
"From talking with some of them, I understood that they all come from underprivileged communities in poor neighbourhoods. Suffocating neighbourhoods whose streets are plastered with posters of martyrs, and whose cramped buildings deny light’s natural right to seep through.
"Overcrowded neighbourhoods where jungles of electrical wires carry stolen electricity into small homes, where people are drowning in marginality and hopelessness, but, most of all, where people have no prospect of ever leaving. It struck me that the sea is their liberty, their escape.
"The shore is a homosocial space. Men cavort, swim, and establish their pecking orders amongst each other. Various videos have been made about this phenomenon. Until a few years back, when I started researching for this project, I myself had never crossed the balustrade. One day, I asked some guys if they minded being followed around and I crossed, with a strapped-on camera. The result was the starting point of this project.
"The idea for the film became clear in my head when I heard about the couple of young men dying while diving from the balustrade. Diving from the balustrade is a brush up against society, but also where they turn their naked backs to it and where they jump out of it into the vastness of the horizon. The propagandists of war would tell us otherwise, but aren’t the men who died diving the true martyrs, pushed by society to its literal edge?"