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Birder: A Thriller That Challenges the Boundaries of Consent +18

In the world of cinema, we rarely encounter films that manage to shake the viewer and leave them with a profound sense of discomfort and deep contemplation
Birder

DIM AMORDim Amor (18+)

"Birder", the debut film by director Nate Dushku, is precisely that—a complex, daring, and disturbing work that will be screened at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque as part of Pride Weekend 2024.

The film, which has garnered praise at numerous festivals and won the Best Debut Film award at the 2023 Melbourne Queer Film Festival, presents a story that seems innocent on the surface: Christian Brooks (Michael Emery), a birdwatcher, arrives at a nude queer camp on the shores of a remote lake in New Hampshire. However, it quickly becomes clear that behind the innocent facade lie dark intentions.

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Dushku, along with screenwriter Amnon Lourie, weaves a sophisticated plot in which Brooks integrates into the nude community, forges relationships with its members, and seduces them with his charms. He uses his body as a tool for seduction and manipulation, gradually undermining the delicate fabric of relationships in the commune. As the film progresses, viewers witness a disturbing development: consent, which initially seems self-evident, becomes a plaything in Brooks' hands.

"Birder" is not content with merely displaying erotic relationships on screen. It subverts our basic assumptions about sexuality, power, and consent. The film challenges the viewer to rethink the concept of "consent" and the ways in which it can be abused. Dushku manages to create an atmosphere of mounting tension, where every sexual encounter becomes a psychological power play, and the boundary between desire and danger blurs.

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It is important to note that the film is not suitable for all viewers. It is rated 18+ due to explicit sexual content, full-frontal nudity, and violence. However, despite—or perhaps because of—its provocative nature, "The Birder" succeeds in sparking an important discussion on topics that often remain on the margins of public discourse.

The choice of actor Michael Emery for the role of Christian Brooks proves brilliant. Emery manages to convey a complex emotional range—from charm and seduction to implicit threat—while using minimal props. In fact, the almost complete nudity throughout most of the film becomes an artistic device in itself, emphasizing the vulnerability of the characters and the danger looming over them.

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The landscape cinematography of New Hampshire adds another layer to the work. The pastoral beauty of the lake and forest stands in stark contrast to the grim events unfolding within, reminding us that danger often lurks in the most beautiful and serene places.

The screening at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque presents a rare opportunity not only to watch the film but also to participate in a conversation with the creators. Director Nate Dushku and screenwriter Amnon Lourie will be present after the screening, allowing the audience to delve deeper into the creative process and the thoughts behind this unsettling film.

"Birder" is not an easy film to watch, but it is certainly one not to be missed. It invites us to step out of our comfort zone, re-examine our perceptions of sexuality and power, and grapple with complex questions about the nature of consent. This is an impressive debut that promises we will hear much more about director Nate Dushku in the future.

Screenings will take place at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque from this coming Thursday until Sunday, June 16th, as part of Pride Month events. It is recommended to book tickets in advance, as high demand is expected. This is a film that will provoke thought and discussion long after the lights in the auditorium come back on.