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Creative documentary,

80min & 52min / HD

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Logline

How loud, provocative and risk-taking must art be to trigger change? A restless film about queer artists, performers and visual activists who raise their voices in some of the world’s most homophobic places.

Synopsis

Because of who I am tells the story of Nils and Benjamin, two filmmakers from Berlin and former lovers, on a journey through a divided world. While half the world is leaping forward, and is even including LGBT rights in their foreign policies, many countries are fighting whenever possible against the very existence of gay women and men. The filmmakers present snapshots of queer realities through an artistic perspective, raising the question to what extent art can be an advocate for change and, ultimately, freedom.




About the Film

Why do we need to define sexual identity? Why is coming-out still a political act? What are the global mechanisms that feed hate and anger towards LGBTIQ people? What, ultimately, does human freedom mean today? Because of who I am is a journey of two filmmakers who try to capture the schizophrenic atmosphere of today’s world towards lesbians, gays and trans people. Beginning their journey in an allegedly free Western environment, the one in which Nils and Benjamin grew up, the film will then approach artists, in exile, who confront the world with atrocities occurring in their home countries.

One such artist is London-based  Mojisola Adebayo, who deals, through the medium of theatre and dance, with the issue of corrective rape of lesbians in Nigeria. Abdellah Taïa, Moroccan writer was forced to escape to Paris after his coming out at home. The filmmakers will accompany these artists through the process of creation and performance to understand how their personal stories inform their works. How would their creations unfold at home? What impact can they have in a globalized world?

These encounters push Benjamin and Nils to embark on a journey around the world to visit artists in countries where LGBTIQ life is hunted down, forbidden, or reduced to secrecy and shame: from Moscow to Capetown, from Beirut to Berlin, from Paris to Los Angeles and London. These are some of the destinations where the filmmakers will meet local artists and visual activists, who risk their lives and careers in order to make a statement about the repressive reality in which they live. Benyamin Reich grew up in an ultraorthodox Jewish family, his father being the communities Rabi. Since a couple of years he lives with his Jewish boyfriend in Berlin and explores the borders between spirituality and sexuality in his artworks. Hamed Sinno openly sings about his love to a man, as lead singer of Mashrou’ Leila, one of the most successful rock bands in the Middle East. To what extend can art protect its creators from surrounding aggression? How can such an environment become a source of inspiration? During the journey, and through their many encounters, the private history of Benjamin and Nils will become more and more transparent. Their former relationship has been shaped by the liberal atmosphere and social dynamics of Europe, and will contrast with the lack of freedom they find in so many other places in the world. Yet, Nils and Benjamin look forward to challenges, in direct discussions with the artists, to overcome their own misconceptions. In the end, it is all about building bridges. Through this personal perspective, the film reveals the impact of art, as it directly affects reality.









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BENJAMIN CANTU (1978) grew up in Berlin and Budapest. After his BA in Animation he continued with directing studies at the dffb (Deutsche Film und Fernsehakademie Berlin). During his studies Benjamin directed one-off documentaries for Arte and 3sat, mostly in cooperation with Nils Bökamp. Harvest marks Benjamin’s debut as a feature film director in 2011. The film is a hybrid of documentary and fiction film making, involving over 30 non-professional actors. The film was premiered on the 61st Berlinale, and screened in over 30 film festival with an ensuing worldwide distribution.

Filmography as Director (selection):

2012 „The Berlin Patient“ documentary, 52 min., RBB, Arte, YELE (Finnaland), ORF (Austria), winner of the media prize of the German AIDS foundation

2011 „Stadt Land Fluss“ (Harvest) feature for cinema, 85 min., distributed by Edition Salzgeber

Festivals 2011 (selection): Berlinale Generation 14Plus, Viennale, Outfest (L.A.), Motovun (Croatia)




NILS BÖKAMP (1977) is working as a producer and director for documentaries and fiction films since 2007. He is one of the CEOs of Boekamp & Kriegsheim GmbH and Supermarket Medien GmbH. His films have been produced with international partners, screened and awarded in Cannes, Berlinale, Amsterdam and other international festivals. He has been working with Benjamin Cantu on all his previous films, since they were both studying at the dffb (Deutsche Film und Fernsehakademie Berlin).

Filmography as Director (selection):

2014 “YOU & I” feature for cinema, distributed by Edition Salzgeber

2011 “Freedom or Security” documentary, 75min, ZDF / Arte

2011 “Dreamfactory Kabul” as producer and author, directed by Sebastian Heidinger, cinema release, ZDF

Festival: Berlinale 2011, Forum