'Bears of Beirut' :: New Documentary Looks for Help

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Bertho and Hixam, who have recently established NGO Proud Lebanon, offering a community centre for many Syrian refugees uprooted to Beirut.

"The Bears of Beirut" -- a new documentary about two Lebanese gay men doing their best to help other gay people streaming in from Syria's brutal war -- is looking for your help. The public can donate to the film's production via a campaign on Indiegogo.com and receive a multitude of perks in return.

The film is about Beirut-based Bertho and Hixam, who have recently established NGO Proud Lebanon, offering a community centre for many Syrian refugees uprooted to Beirut. Proud Lebanon is struggling to provide help to Lebanon's new refugees, who arrive in need of medical care, psychological assistance, and transit to a gay-friendly country. Proud Lebanon was founded with a view to help all the new LGBT arrivals who cannot find help from the already creaking public services in Beirut.

Beirut is a liberal city in a very conservative region, and there is a community of gay bears that live somewhat openly. Bertho, one of the subjects of our film, and a leading light in the local gay bear community, balances both the running of this centre with trying to navigate the freedoms being taken away from his community in recent years.

With over 1 million Syrians arriving in Lebanon in the last two years, Bertho and Hixam are working against the odds to assist many of the new arrivals to Beirut in dire need. This film is their story -- about community, about tolerance, and about what is next for Lebanon and the entire Middle East.

Producer/Director Rick Jacobs says, "Following bear culture in the Middle East is something that has not been covered in a documentary before. As a gay man, and also part of Scandinavia's bear community, stories about other LGBT people who struggle with life decisions they can't control is something very close to my heart."

Rick Jacobs joins award-winning cinematographer Gabriel Mkrttchian, and both have many years' experience working with the entertainment industry in Scandinavia. Gabriel's recent short film, PLEASURE, won the prestigious Canal Plus Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013. Both Rick and Gabriel are based in Sweden.

Jacobs continues, "We have been trying through more traditional routes in Scandinavia to find funding for this film, but it has been a 2-year struggle. Even Swedish films that go on to international acclaim, such as SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN, also went through the same trials when trying to find funds for their vision."

The public can join the crowdsourcing campaign for THE BEARS OF BEIRUT for as little as $10 (GBP 6.00, EUR 7.40) -- less than the price of a movie ticket. This film aims to give the public with a deeper view of the lives of LGBT people in the Middle East, how the small bear community in Beirut is surviving in the face of constant struggles to live openly, and to provide a close look at the ever-changing situation for everyone in Lebanon.

We also have media support from both GROWLr and Bear World Magazine -- two services for bears. They are helping to spread the word to their subscribers as part of our campaign.

The deadline for donating funds to the campaign is 16 August 2014.

From our media partner EDGE


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