Program 29: Label MeDirected by Kai Kreuser
In German, Arabic and English with some English subtitles.
WARNING: Strong sexual content and nudity.
A Syrian refugee seeking asylum in Cologne, Waseem makes a meager living working as a gay-for-pay hustler. A broodingly handsome man, Waseem has no shortage of customers but is adamant that these interactions remain strictly transactional. He ensures a barrier is maintained between himself and the men who pay for his companionship.
Then one night he arrives at the apartment of a wealthy but lonely young German named Lars. Lars purchases Waseem’s services, and they negotiate what is and isn’t on the table once their clothes come off. Despite Waseem’s chilly and brusque demeanor, he piques Lars’ curiosity. Asking a stream of personal questions – whose answers go for 20 euros a pop – there’s a prickly sort of chemistry there. Soon Lars becomes a regular customer.
The film moves between their time together and Waseem’s daily return to the communal refugee shelter where he lives. We see that he’s just as much of an outsider there as he is in the new country he’s struggling to make home. It’s clear that both men have a deep desire to be close to someone.
As Lars works to get Waseem’s walls to drop ever so slightly, an intimacy grows between the two men. It’s an odd sort of relationship: they have sex, but they’re not exactly lovers; there’s a certain trust, but they aren’t friends; and despite money being exchanged, their meetings aren’t strictly business.
A riveting debut from writer-director Kai Kreuser, Label Me becomes both a powerful depiction of the refugee experience and a tender ode to those relationships that can never be defined, but somehow mean everything.
~ Adam Lubitow
Awards & Accolades
- Jury Award, Best Medium-Length Film – Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis
- Official Selection – Outfest LA LGBT Film Festival
- Official Selection – Raindance Film Festival
Directed by Ahmad Seyfipour
In Tehran, a thief encounters two men having sex in the backseat of a car in a residential parking garage.