Who’s Gonna Love Me Now? Review by Jack Cline
This entertaining documentary tells the story of Saar Maoz. Born on a kibbutz in Israel, he moved to London at 21 because his religious family rejected his homosexuality. Nearly two decades later, Saar has created a family around him as a member of the London Gay Men’s Chorus, but he keeps hoping to reconcile with his family, who are now trying to keep him from his nieces and nephews because he’s HIV positive.
Shot over five years, the film is unusually honest, full of interviews with Saar and his family members, who speak their minds to the camera. Filmmakers Barak and Tomer Heymann infuse scenes with emotional resonance and soaring choral songs. Intriguingly, Saar and Tomer hooked up on the gay scene in Tel Aviv before he moved to London, then kept in touch over the years. “The basis of this film is trust,” Saar told Boyz. “The whole journey started from me knowing Tomer for more than 20 years. So I could trust the guy. But there is a massive difference between me trusting him and my family trusting him! They didn’t know him at all.”
Shooting over five years, everyone got used to the film crew’s presence, and having a camera there forced the family to properly talk to each other for the first time. “I think we all knew there would be hard moments,” Saar says. “Although we never knew how upsetting it sometimes was going to get. But this was something deep in our hearts, and we were willing to go the mile. We were in that point where the pain was suffocating us, and it was time to get it out.”
Saar admits that seeing this on a big screen is rather unnerving, but audiences at festivals around the world have had a hugely positive reaction. “At the end of the day we hope that it will touch somebody,” he says. “It’s a very personal story, but maybe it’s not just for us.”
The film also explores Saar’s difficult decision to uproot and return to Tel Aviv to work with Israel’s AIDS Task Force to change public attitudes to HIV. “Israel is a beautiful country, but it has problems. I felt that I needed to be there to criticise it,” he says of the decision to move home. “I don’t want to presume that I am making a big difference in the political situation there, but at least I can make my voice heard. Maybe the world is in this state because people don’t think their voices are important.”
Today he’s also happy to be closer to his family, and to get to know his nieces and nephews as they grow up. And as he has travelled around the world with the movie, he has discovered a message he never noticed before. “I really don’t think this film is about Saar Maoz,” he says. “It’s about stuff that our society is dealing with right now, and it’s important to talk about it.”