We don't have that in our country
May 13, 2010 9:06 PM   Subscribe

Cul-de-sac is a new independent film (trailer, briefly NSFW) by London-based directors Ramin Goudarzi Nejad & Mahshad Torkan. It tells the story of Kiana Firouz, a filmmaker, actress, and lesbian activist who fled Iran after authorities learned of her attempt to make an underground documentary about the lives of Iranian gays and lesbians. According to this interview, Firouz didn't write the film, but plays herself. Earlier this month, her asylum petition was allegedly denied. The denial shouldn't have been surprising according to statistics in a report (pdf) by the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, which states that the refusal rate for lesbians and gay men is as high as 98-99%. Although the Home Office claims it takes the sexual orientation of asylum seekers into consideration, laws which permit deportation of gay and lesbian asylum seekers have recently been challenged in the supreme court.
posted by treepour (10 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Given the existence of dramatically underpopulated regions all over the world, I'm always somewhat fascinated that skilled labor is not accepted, even sought, given a requirement to live somewhere for some period of years.
posted by effugas at 1:16 AM on May 14, 2010


Looks like a tedious film... but then, it's a tedious fucking regime.

I read the intro and conclusions of the report - and I'm wondering what special / sensitivity training means in this context. Asylum (even visas) are fraught with problems not just of class and gender; it's a fairly problematic concept to begin with.

My very close Iranian friend fled across the border to Pakistan soon after he graduated from art university. He was with an old friend of his, who applied to the UN (if memory serves) for political asylum, pretending to be gay and persecuted for being so. (He asked my friend to take some "gay pictures" with him - man I would pay top dollar for those shots today!) The faux homosexual friend got asylum and is today happily married and successful in Canada - he even visits Iran now. My friend (who did not pretend to be gay) was denied and went back to Iran in a few months, did his military service, and is still (several years later) knocking about various countries in South Asia on student visas, trying to never go back. He's thirty and already exhausted, and for the first time is seriously considering going back and settling in his homeland, because he doesn't have the money to go to Europe nor the drive or linguistic skills to seek work in South Asia.

What I mean is, sexuality is a difficult to talk about, culturally defined thing - for the asylum seeker and for those who judge whether it makes a sufficient case. How do you prove homosexuality and persecution, while being discreet enough to survive in your homeland (when) you're denied? Is an Iranian gay woman more or less persecuted than a woman who is found to be "disloyal" to her husband and faces the death penalty? Many young people (not just homosexuals) find it intolerable to live in Iran and impossible to leave; men can't even travel outside until they've finished their military service, and of course money is always an issue for anyone who wants to make it in a foreign land.

Truth, freedom, persecution, harassment - all these things are difficult to successfully calibrate on any kind of objective scale. While the statistics of the report are compelling, even upsetting, the solutions it suggests seem to me fairly simplistic.
posted by mondaygreens at 1:29 AM on May 14, 2010


I really dislike it when filmmakers (or bands, for that matter) are either too lazy to check to see if a title's been used before or if they're too dense to care.
posted by item at 2:08 AM on May 14, 2010


Although the Home Office claims it takes the sexual orientation of asylum seekers into consideration

Well, yeah. But how are they considering it, hmm?
posted by Sys Rq at 4:35 AM on May 14, 2010


It's probably worth pointing out that while it appears the British government doesn't see someone being forced to live in the closet for fear of harassment or personal safety a valid reason to grant an asylum claim (which, in itself, is inhumane enough IMO), there is absolutely no chance Firouz could even attempt to live in the closet after appearing in this film. it seems to me that her participation in this film would likely make deportation an immediate death sentence.
posted by treepour at 1:18 PM on May 14, 2010


Cameron has spoken in favor of granting gay refugees asylum before. Since this story has suddenly gone viral (Firouz is currently overwhelmed with requests from journalists), maybe he'll have to make good on those words.
posted by homunculus at 2:16 PM on May 14, 2010


Related post.
posted by homunculus at 2:18 PM on May 14, 2010


I really dislike it when filmmakers (or bands, for that matter) are either too lazy to check to see if a title's been used before or if they're too dense to care.

The Persian title, Bonbast (بن بست), can also be translated as "stalemate" or "dead end".
posted by Gordafarin at 5:01 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Iranian actress Kiana Firouz fears film of her life ends in death
posted by homunculus at 9:03 AM on May 20, 2010


Islamists, their victims, and hypocrisy: On the day we allowed two al-Qa'ida members to remain, two other young people waited for the police to see them, and hand them over to men who will kill them
posted by homunculus at 9:04 AM on May 20, 2010


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