Written and Directed by Kai Kreuser
Produced by Sonja Kessler and Jenny Lorenz-Kreindl
By: Patrick Donovan – Author/Screenwriter
Seattle, WA (The Hollywood Times) 7/19/2019
“Another beautiful story about what you fear, what holds you back and what you willing to sacrifice for your happiness.”
– Pat Donovan
No kissing. No passive penetration. For Waseem the rules are very clear: When Lars pays him for sex then only in a way that he can reconcile with his heterosexuality. On the one side the refugee from Syria living in a shelter, on the other side the wealthy German with a loft apartment – the differences couldn’t be crasser and yet both are connected by a sincere interest in each other. Their relationship is rooted in a constant alternation between dominance and longing for closeness.
The playful power struggle between the two of them reveals their inability to hide their fears and longings from one another and to keep up their carefully constructed facades.
While both are struggling to uphold the labels in their head, their friendship starts to pose a real threat within the reality of Waseem’s shelter.
Language: Englisch | Arabisch | Deutsch
WRITER and DIRECTOR Kai Kreuser | PRODUCTION Jenny Lorenz-Kreindl, Sonja Keßler | DOP Malte Hafner | EDITING andSOUNDDESIGN Tabea Hannappel
Renato Schuch – Lars, Nikolaus Benda – Waseem
Two men meet in a subway. Waseem sits on a bench. The other man leaves after texting him. Waseem follows…cautiously. When they meet in the wealthy German man’s apartment it is there that Waseem lays down his rules. You can sense the subtle connection. The wealthy German leaves with the money on the table. Waseem heads back to the shelter from whence he came.
They meet again and the German, Lars, begins the questions. Where are you from? When did you come here? Do you speak German? Each question yields 20 Marks. The questions continue and the money keeps being passed.
Lars asks when’s the first time you had sex with a man? Waseem sends the question back and Waseem now hands Lars back 20 Marks. The question leads to statements and stories about the German’s first time.
Waseem heads back to the shelter and sees a young man being held and forced to perform oral sex on another. He stands there. The other men stop as Waseem and that young man’s eyes lock. He walks away and the young man runs. Waseem leaves the shelter. He’s with Lars again and now the proposition before the money. But is that all that Waseem is looking for to be paid for just sex?
Waseem begins to explore Lars’ apartment and what happens next shouldn’t shock you. Alone, a wealthy man’s place, computers, and clothes. Waseem is not only searching about who his identity is but that of the German. What Lars discovers, is when he gets home is that Waseem and he are beginning to connect on a deeper level than just sex or money.
Waseem is back in the shelter and hears the noises from others through the thin walls. He lays in bed, quietly, thinking and wondering… is that what you do? He then takes the one thing that he didn’t leave when he left the German; earplugs. Finally a quiet night’s sleep.
The German takes him to a club where Waseem feels uncomfortable and as this story builds so does their relationship. They go from Waseem being paid to Lars and Waseem continuing their journey. The one question that the German asks is: What are you afraid of?
This is a story about all of us. About relationships. About fear. About sinking or swimming. We all have something we’re afraid of, something that gnaws at us. Waseem is being pulled ‘out’ and ‘in’ pardon the sexual innuendo, but I mean, out of what Waseem is and into who Lars is and vice versa. Back at the shelter, he’s homeless and vulnerable. He’s Syrian in a German shelter and he’s not happy. Again with the German as they seemingly are getting along that one cardinal rule is broken, at first, willingly, then Waseem lashes out and leaves… what are you afraid of?
We all need acceptance, desire, caring, and more but what is the fear that you have? Where are you in the life? Are you not happy? For me, I’m conflicted. Being married and wanting another, for me, because needs are not met and I’m not talking sexual, puts me into a vulnerable and dangerous place. I’m not speaking about being gay, but a relationship is a relationship. We must all come to grips with what we fear. Are we sacrificing our own happiness for that of others? Do you feel used, like Waseem when he takes money? Why are you doing that?
Don’t put yourself in a position of vulnerability. You need to start thinking of your own happiness and yes, people will be in pain. People will hurt. You know, in life, there are only two choices and these choices are between two pains. Which path/choice is more painful? Waseem is searching, Lars is searching and what brings them together is what keeps them apart.
This is a beautiful film about two people who are not sure, two people who are falling in love or not, but seek something they’re missing. Do not forsake your own happiness for others. It is when Waseem goes back to the shelter to only find that something is missing in his room: Everything!
Watch Label Me and understand the feelings, understand the conflict and understand…the LOVE.
Photo Credits: IFS/Malte Hafner
Production Company: Internationale Filmschule Köln (IFS)