IDFA Sold Out Screening for "The Good Son"
DocMovies pick of the week is Shirly Berkovitz's "THE GOOD SON" one of our favorite documentaries on this years IDFA . This is the incredible story of Or, a 22-year-old Israeli man secretly saving for sex reassignment surgery in Thailand. Or’s own home videos make up the first part of the film, which starts with him attempting to persuade his parents to lend him $12,000, ostensibly so he can study at Oxford. Struck by loneliness and a terrible sense of guilt, Or counts the days until his departure from Tel Aviv. The second section of the film starts with the flight to Bangkok, where director Shirly Berkovitz captures Or’s first steps in her new life as a woman. We see her recovering from the operation, adopting a new identity, talking with fellow transgender people, on an emotional outing to a karaoke bar. Back in Tel Aviv, she must face her family and the price of seeking her true identity. “I’m about to show myself as the new me, as the female me. And it’s gonna be tough,” she says. This is an exciting tale about fear, self-doubt, willpower, and the importance of family and being able to be you are. - See more at IDFA
The fascinating Israeli documentary "The Good Son" was born 4 years ago, when a young guy named Or contacted the film maker Shirly Berkovitz, with a unique request, asking her to document the big change he is about to go through: he wanted to become a woman. Nobody amongst Or's family or friends knew about the plan or about Or's true feeling s and identity, and the camera became the only guard of Or's secret. Together with the director of the film, Or took off on an amazing journey, which ended when she came back home to bravely face her parents in her new identity.
Nearly 3 years later, as the film was complete and ready to be screened, Or had changed her mind about the exposure. She stopped answering phone calls, and refused to even watch the film. She tried to prevent the screening of the film in cinematheques, and especially prevent it's screening on the Israeli "Yes-Docu" TV channel, which was one of the main investors of the film. The screening of the film was delayed for a whole year, until eventually, by the beginning of January 2013, it was aired on "Yes-Docu" and presented in cinematheques across Israel.
Or did not give up, and communicated journalists, trying to gather public attention to her position against the film. When that didn't help, she contacted a member in the Israeli parliament, who wrote a letter to the general manger of the broadcaster "Yes", demanding not to air the film.
At the day of the premiere in Tel-Aviv's cinematheque, only a few days before the film was aired on television, a protest of 3 transgender activists was held in front of the cinematheque. Inside, the manager of "Yes-Docu", an openly Gay man, gave an inspiring speech, answering many of the claims: "After you make the change, and I say that from a personal perspective, you don't want to remember the confused teenager you used to be. Today I say to myself I wish I had left the closet 10 years earlier, and not waste precious years, hurting myself and others. I wish as many people as possible will see this film, see a transgender woman living and working and studying like anyone else. This film is a corner stone for the transgender revolution in Israel, and I hope it will be remembered as such". Other prominent LGBT figures had praised the film: TV host Assi Azar wrote called it "a must see, for everyone".
"The Good Son" is constructed as a thriller, enhancing all the drama of the lies told by Or to his family. For some, it is almost too thrilling: in 2 different occasions, in Jerusalem and the city of Holon, the screening of the film had to be stopped – as a woman in the audience lost her consciousness, and had to be evacuated by ambulance...