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Drifting (Feature-length) – The Opening Monologue

Amos Guttman
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Tel Aviv’s Paris Cinema, Hayarkon St., 1983. The small movie theatre that specialises in cult films and midnight movies and is famous for showcasing a different, wild, subversive, and ‘other’ type of cinema – from the likes of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Monty Python movies, to a range of arthouse films – is the scene of Guttman’s feature-length film. The opening scene alone serves as a proverbial punch in the gut: film protagonist Robbie (played by Jonathan Sagall), a dashing, sarcastic, cynical, and contemptuous young director addresses an “unseen” producer, the camera, or perhaps the audience themselves. He delivers a monologue that is rooted in Guttman’s own arduous, obstacle and hurdle-riddled path en route to fulfilling his dream of making a feature-length film, “the gay guild doesn’t even want to know about my shorts,” Robbie lashes out in defiance. “They’re not positive films. They don’t portray gays in the right light. They also didn’t make a penny.”

Drifting made history – it was the first time a gay male character appeared as the lead in a feature-length Hebrew-speaking film; a fully fleshed-out, well-rounded, multi-layered character whose good and bad sides are equally represented. It hardly comes as a surprise then, that the gay community of the time didn’t take kindly to the brutally unfiltered mirror Guttman held up to its face in his films. Incidentally, the self-righteous monologue Guttman gives his Drifting protagonist – “why bother making another full-length picture on this subject, huh? To prove that you exist, that you have a voice, that you’re worth a damn. What is this film about? Whatever’s left. And there isn’t much. Only the need to make this film…” – epitomises a running theme in his oeuvre. The majority of Guttman’s film protagonists are in desperate need of some form of creative outlet. As such, their artistic proclivities will always reflect their own existential reality.