Wednesday, October 28, 2020

NewFest Spotlight: No Hard Feelings

I’m delighted to be covering a number of selections from the 32nd Annual New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival, NewFest. The festival runs October 16th-27th, 2020, and this film – the closing night selection – is available watch in the United States through October 30th.

No Hard Feelings
Directed by Faraz Shariat
Ticket Information

People choose what to share of themselves in particular settings based on their comfort level and how accepting they believe their communities will be. Some may choose, for instance, to hide their political beliefs in an environment where they won’t be welcome, and others may allow themselves to be looser around friends than at work. Someone who has two entirely different personas may find it difficult to reconcile those contradictory identities, and that struggle will affect them in some way, either when they try too hard to merge them or remain intent on keeping them forever separate.

Parvis (Benny Radjaipour) is a second-generation Iranian-German assigned to work as a refugee center for community service, serving as a translator despite his only mediocre mastery of Farsi. His hard-partying lifestyle and frequent one-night stands serve as a worthwhile distraction from his traditional family He meets Amon (Eidin Jalali) and his sister Banafshe (Banafshe Hourmazdi) and finds them both fascinating, engaging in a secret romantic relationship with Amon and a close friendship with Banafshe. Parvis’ lackadaisical outlook stands in opposition to the anxiety Amon and Banafshe carry due to the pending status of their refugee applications.

This film begins in a club and features steady, thumping music that pulsates throughout much of its runtime. Parvis has an incredible ability to come alive in social situations, embracing the energy of the room around him. He isn’t always surrounded by the same audience, and therefore the way he acts at the refugee center and in public near Amon strikes others as unexpected and unacceptable. Amon and Banafshe know how tentative their life in Germany is and take care not to feel too exposed in a way that Parvis will never understand because of the experiences he’s had and the way in which he feels he can be his authentic self.

This film, which serves as the Closing Night selection for NewFest, features a protagonist who is unapologetic about who he is and how his identity plays into his life. Radjaipour delivers an accessible performance, putting Parvis out there and enabling him to be both vulnerable and flawed, unprepared to reckon with the different perspectives others have about conclusions he has already made. Hourmazdi and Jalali give equally effective and compelling turns, conveying their passion, fear, and individuality. This film’s pace and focus make it a worthwhile watch, portraying an intriguing intersection of romance and friendship with plenty to say about culture and homogeneity.


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