DIVA chats to Shirel Peleg, director of this film about love and the healing power of forgiveness

BY NADIA DAVIES

Cultures clash and family secrets are revealed when Shira brings home her new girlfriend in this delightful first feature.

Describe your film in three words.

Diverse, chaotic and fun

What inspired you to make the film?

I don’t know if it’s luck or naiveté, but I started identifying myself as a lesbian when I was about 13 years old and felt like it’s the most normal thing possible. I didn’t bother coming out or anything, I just introduced the new friend I brought home as my girlfriend and was utterly befuddled when my parents presented a shocked expression on their faces. Being attracted to women felt trivial to me. It’s only when I transferred to a new high-school and was the only one in a class of many hundreds that was “out”, that I realised being who I am is something society expects me to hide. Since then, I’ve been trying to find a way to portray queer life where it belongs – smack in the centre and as mainstream as it gets. And there’s nothing more mainstream than a good ol’ romcom.

What does screening at BFI Flare mean to you?

I carried this story with me for many years. Alone, just me and my wild fantasies, and I have to admit it wasn’t always fun. Having this film out there and knowing it’s being seen, accepted and understood by the crowd I made it for, especially at a wonderfully queer platform such as the BFI Flare, means the world to me.

What do you hope audiences will take away from this story?

I tried to use screwball comedy as a way to bring up to the surface topics usually considered taboo. The magic of comedy is that it allows us to come closer to sensitive topics we usually tend to approach with great sensitivity, and at times, keep away from as means of caution or even respect. If there’s one thing I wish my audiences to take from this film is that as long as we listen and talk to one another, even the greatest opposites can find a way to cohabit.

Why is it important that queer films and documentaries are showcased every year at an event like this?

Visibility is the single most important thing to community that still has to prove and fight to claim its existence within the so-called mainstream.

BFI Flare is completely online this year, giving everyone across the UK the opportunity to watch the amazing line-up of films available. How important is accessibility with regards to representation on screen?

There is something to be said about the way film festivals figured out a way to make such a sweet lemonade out of this Covid sourness. Going online means so many people who otherwise wouldn’t or couldn’t be exposed to this kind of events can finally partake. This is truly amazing.

What are your words of advice for any aspiring queer filmmakers/actors? Be true to your perspective and if you get lucky to be in a position that allows you to make choices, make sure to gather a diverse team.

How has the pandemic impacted you creatively?

I’m a writer so my life before the pandemic looked pretty much the same before reality took this twisted turn.

Who is your LGBTIQ+ screen hero?

I’m the biggest RuPaul fan out there!

Other than buying tickets for BFI Flare, how can people best support independent queer media?

By sharing on every possible media channel their experiences and thoughts regarding queer events.

Kiss Me Before It Blows Up plays as part of the BFI Flare: London LGBTIQ+ Film Festival, 17-28 March.

Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.

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