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City Of Borders

Airs Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

A still of two men featured in the film

Credit: Courtesy of ITVS in association with CAAM

Above: A still of two men featured in the film "City Of Borders."

At Shushan, an underground bar on the East/West border of Jerusalem, people of all nationalities, religious affiliations, and sexual orientations gather under one roof to socialize, express their true selves, and find acceptance.

Inside this unique oasis of peace, a lesbian couple — one Israeli, one Arab — shares a kiss. At the bar, a closeted Orthodox Jewish man drinks with a secular straight couple. An Israeli soldier dances to Cher’s “A Different Kind of Love Song,” lip-synched on stage by a Palestinian man in drag.

Photo Galleries

View photos from the film, the production and the Berlin International Film Festival.

Their collective experience of persecution over identity forges a common bond between people typically viewed as each other’s “enemy.” Shushan represents a needed model of tolerance in an otherwise divisive and explosive region.

Outside the bar, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian fundamentalists strive to eliminate demonstrations of gay pride through the reversal of anti-discrimination laws, riots, arson, and death threats. Meanwhile, the separation wall around East Jerusalem and along Israel’s borders nears completion, sealing off Palestinian patrons who have nowhere else to go to experience public gay life.

Through the lives of key bar regulars, "City Of Borders" observes this resilient community’s daily struggle to live, love, and belong against extraordinary odds. Against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this documentary also humanizes the patrons as they grapple with their own prejudices and contradictions while fighting for their dignity and belonging.

This film premiered on May 30, 2010 on Public Television.

Trailer: City Of Borders

In the heart of Jerusalem defying generations of segregation, violence and prejudice stands an unusual symbol of unity: a gay bar called Shushan. "City Of Borders" goes inside this vibrant underground sanctuary on the East/West border of the Holy City, where people of opposing nationalities, religious affiliations and sexual orientations gather under one roof, to find acceptance and create a community among people typically viewed as each others "enemy." Set against the construction of the separation wall between Israel and the Palestinian territories and the struggle for a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, "City Of Borders" explores this resilient community's daily fight for dignity and their right to existence.

Behind the Scenes: City Of Borders

Boody, one of the gay Palestinian subjects of the film, talks about the anonymous threats he received after screenings in Cleveland, and the warm reception he received in other cities.

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