The Israeli Film Festival gets a dose of gay this weekend with the screening of Doron Eran's Melting Away. The must-see feature film was inspired by a hate-crime shooting at a Tel Aviv LGBTQ Youth Center in 2009, and subsequent reports that parents were too ashamed of their gay children to visit them in the hospital.
Eran's story unfolds when angry Shlomo (Ami Weinberg) and bitchy Gallia (Limor Goldstein) discover their 18-year-old son, Assaf (Hen Yanni), is hiding a collection of women's duds under his mattress. These findings and their suspicions about his "pervert" friends are all they need to toss him to the street. Fast-forward four years and Assaf is a super-hot but well-adjusted lounge singer named Anna. Shlomo is dying of cancer in a local hospital.
In a lovely take-the-high-road twist, Anna catches word about her father and spends her days caring for him, in the guise of a free nurse. For a while the family is oblivious to the fact that she was once Assaf; one scuzzball uncle even asks her out. But as everyone but her father starts to put together the pieces, she's forced to stand up to hateful relatives to nurture the affection she's beginning to rekindle with her dying pops.
It would have been nice to see a transgendered person play Assaf/Anna, but Yanni, who earned a best-actress Israeli Academy Award nomination for the role, works it like a champ. Her portrayal of the tenderhearted, can't-do-wrong soul contrasts triumphantly with the bigots who are "living the right way." And Billi Ben Moshe's script comes out punching for LGBTQ acceptance, especially with one line that could be the best-yet slap in the face for tiny-minded parents: "If you gave [him life], it's his life to live." Zing!
Sat., March 31, 8:45 p.m., $12, Edmund D. Bossone Research Enterprise Center, 3140 Market St., 484-904-5421, iffphila.com.