There are two distinct camps (no pun intended) within the genre of gay cinema – those which cater for the physical elements and those, like Sasha (2010), which approach from an emotional angle. Starring Sasha Kekez, Tim Bergmann and Yvonne Yung Hee, the latest film from writer/director Dennis Todorovic is a realistic depiction of the confusion and heartache family restrictions and expectations can place upon young people.
Sasha (Kekez) is young, handsome and an incredibly gifted pianist. He is also gay, a secret which would not go down well with his emotionally-stunted immigrant family living in Cologne, Germany. However the real problem for Sasha lies not with his suffocatingly possessive mother Stanka (Zeljka Preksavec) or homophobic father Vlado (Predrag Bjelac), but with his secret infatuation for his music teacher Gebhard (Tim Bergmann). When Gebhard announces that he is leaving to take up his dream job in Vienna, a distraught Sasha can contain himself no longer and pours out his feelings to Gebhard with devastating results for all those involved.
Sasha is a dryly funny and intensely emotional study of a young man at odds with his narrow-minded family and frustrating homosexual feelings. Its depiction of a disintegrating family – the film focuses not only on Sasha’s complex and bewildering situation, but equally on the relationship between his mother and uncultured father – is a lesson for everyone, whether gay or straight, on the importance of communication and acceptance.
There are of course the stereotypical ‘gay’ elements present (one-night stands and unrequited love and eventual camaraderie of a ‘girlfriend’), however these are thankfully never allowed to overshadow the main essence of the story, Sasha’s acceptance both by himself and by his family.
Filmed against the backdrop of a dilapidated Cologne (the bohemian starkness of Gebhard’s studio would be enough to inspire anyone to produce magical music – which Sasha does, frequently), the film’s lasting memory is of the beauty of the evocative classical soundtrack which blends seamlessly with the proceedings resulting in a lush and atmospheric ode to forgiveness.