We all have a special someone in our past. A “love of your life” relationship that just happened to have bad timing. Things didn’t work out, but you still think about them. In Alex and Ali, their long distance relationship has been going on for four decades, across cultures and continents.
In the late 1960s, Alex was a young Peace Corps volunteer -- Ali, a younger, exotic native of Iran. They become friends and lovers. Alex was in Iran for nine years, until the revolution forced him to leave.
Through letters, phone calls and emails, the two stay in touch for more than 30 years. Alex is HIV positive, so he couldn’t travel abroad for many years. Finally, a reunion is arranged, with Malachi Leopold, Alex’s nephew, documenting the emotional and physical journey.
It’s not easy for an Iranian to travel to other countries. After researching options, they finally decide to meet in Turkey. The reunion is overshadowed by the fact that one of Ali’s bags, containing photos and love letters to Alex, was confiscated at the airport. Ali must decide whether to admit to being gay in order to gain entry into the United States, remain indefinitely in Turkey, or return to certain punishment in Iran. Years of culture and shame make it impossible for Ali to admit to being gay. Confessing to being gay in Iran is still a serious offense. People are imprisoned, beaten and tortured.
This uncertainty causes a rift between the two. And, they are older; they have changed. The years and cultures have shaped them differently than when they were young and in love. In an image of them cooking breakfast together, one has an omelet, one has fried eggs, representing their current differences. But they still have affection for each other. Ali describes it as a friendship wall. You build it brick by brick. Unkindness takes away two bricks, but their wall will “never come down.”
This film is filled with beautiful imagery, cinematography and light, yet still brings us to the realization of how unconsciously privileged we are in the United States. The history of the gay rights movement in America is documented as the film progresses, but we learn that being gay is still not tolerated in many parts of the world.
You must see this film; it will change the way you see the world. “Love has no borders.”
Alex and Ali will show during Thin Line on February 22 at 6:15 p.m. at the Campus Theatre.