Deaf Heaven

Newsgroups: soc.motss
From: (Vadim Temkin)
Subject: Re: some films at SF film fest
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1993 07:35:06 GMT

hsu@walnut.SFSU.EDU (William Tsun-Yuk Hsu) writes:

>Some stuff I saw at the SF Lesbian/Gay Film Festival:

>Talk that Toc (6/19 2pm, Roxie) and Southern Exposures (6/22 5:30pm, Roxie)
>Being at Home with Claude (coming to the Castro)
>Smoke (6/24 7:15pm Castro)
>Prince in Hell (6/24 2:30pm Castro)
[critique on these movies deleted]

I saw 7 programs at Towne3 in San Jose, and one at Roxie. Definite winners were For a Lost Soldier (which I won't review now) and Deaf Heaven.

Deaf Heaven by director Steve Levitt is 30 min short feature with very strong idea and excellent cinematography (NB: I generally hate American movies). Plot is quite simple. From the festival program. "A man who is losing his lover to AIDS-related dementia must find strength when his lover's parents threaten to bring him back to Midwest to die. An unexpected meeting at a sauna with a Jewish Holocaust survivor teaches the young man much about what it means to live through the pain of AIDS and be a witness to history".

This plot description is too sketchy. PWA hero in his dementia travels around the world, or skies in the mountains. Because of absence of anything like living will, doctors have to decide if a patient is in his mind to decide to remain in the hospital near his lover (BTW, the doctor is played by Walsh' father in BH90201). The game seems to be lost. Main hero after long swim starts to cry in the sauna. There are people in white bath sheets around him (or may be those are dead people in shrouds?). Very old Jew (Jehovah himself?) tells the story of his family perished in Auschwitz before his eyes. He kept small picture of the family (which was deadly dangerous). He could see it in his palm long after physical picture vanished. And then he started to discipline his boy, and even sleep with his wife. It doesn't matter where is your friend's body as soon as his soul is with you.... On official session with chief doctor a PWA hero finds strength to get his mind back, answers that his family is his lover sitting near him, asks doctor if he ever been to Kansas, and tells that Kansas is death. After doctors leave satisfied there go beautiful words of love, and how painful is to be in ones mind. And this ends with lyrical and comical "Get off of my leg". The old Jew catches main hero napping. Dialog is comical and tragic at the same time. On the remark that dying man is not a friend, but a lover, old man answers that he understands, he has seen _60 minutes_. And then he predicts that young man will live a long live, because survivor has to be witness to history. The old Jew doesn't come out the door, he disappears in hallway (so it was Jehovah?).

Clear and strong comparison between the AIDS and Holocaust, magic realism (a la Gabriel Garcia Marquez), and strong cinematography made this film my favorite of about 20 I've seen at the Festival.

As I understood Frameline (the Festival organizer) is going to release some of the films on video. Don't miss this one.

Vadim Temkin at home (