October 15, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

“Choke” Takes on Queer Boxing at Outfest

Award-winning out filmmaker Rolla Selbak is world premiering her new short film, CHOKE, at the upcoming 2018 Los Angeles Outfest Film Festival – the world’s leading LGBT film festival presented by HBO.

CHOKE will screen as part of the “Emerging Voices” short program held on Saturday, July 21 at 8:00pm at the Harmony Gold Theater on Sunset Blvd.

CHOKE tells the story of a successful MMA champion who hides her refugee identity from her small American town, and the world. Sara and her family are Muslim refugees who’ve escaped the vicious war in Syria and flee to the Unites States, where she fights for a new life in the brutal sport of mix martial arts.

It stars Jessica Damouni (Salam),  Allison King (Baby Driver) and Victor Davila aka “master VIC” (MMA fighter & UFC Spanish commentator)

Selbak,  a Sundance 2017 filmmaker, tells the experience of what it feels like to immigrate from your home to a new place you’re trying to fit into, especially in today’s climate.

“It’s both a challenge and an honor to depict an authentic refugee experience truthfully and with creative empathy. Being an immigrant myself and being part of a Palestinian family, I feel that my personal experience lends itself to this intent in a powerful way,” says the filmmaker.

The central themes of identity, racism, homosexuality and fear are heightened by Sara’s struggle between modesty and boldness, aggression and repression, and oscillation between pride of who she is, and shame of where she came from.

The words “Muslim” and “immigrant” are so charged with electrifying heaviness in today’s environment. Just when we think the anti-immigrant sentiment has reached fever pitch in this country, the spikes of vicious rhetoric push the stakes higher.

Selbak’s ultimate goal was to tell a different kind of immigrant story, one that offers a counter-illustration to the depictions of brown women on the screen as the devout wife, or the unsuspecting terrorist, or depicting refugees as being weak and powerless instead of strong and resilient.

The MMA backdrop also provides for a really powerful element of symbolism: fighting for your life, fighting for who you are, fighting for identity. It also symbolizes overcoming adversity as Salam ironically excels in a heavily male-dominated professional field that is reputed to be very macho and homophobic.

All in all, CHOKE is about identity, and the choices we make to hide parts of ourselves in order to survive.

Plans for developing CHOKE into a TV series are in full swing.

Related Posts

Sex and the City Star Willie Garson Dead At 57

September 28, 2021

September 28, 2021

Acclaimed actor and Los Angeles resident Willie Garson passed away on September 21 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer,...

Elvira Shocks Fans By Coming Out Of The Closet

September 28, 2021

September 28, 2021

Just in time for Halloween, the spook queen herself, Cassandra Peterson, a.k.a. Elvira, has come out of the closet.  In...

QFilms Long Beach Returns

September 15, 2021

September 15, 2021

QFilms Long Beach, Long Beach’s oldest film festival, returns September 30 – October 3 to celebrate the diversity of LGBTQ...

WeHo Poet Laureate Reviews LGBTQ Documentray “Senior Prom”

June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

West Hollywood poet Laureate, RENT Poet founder and author of “The Poetry of Strangers: What I Learned Traveling America with...

Buzzfeed’s Docuseries “The Andrea Mares Project”

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

BuzzFeed’s As/Is presents “The Andrea Mares Project,” a docuseries that shadows Andrea Mares, a trans-feminine Latinx, as she embarks on...

LGBTQ Center Long Beach Screening “The Wizard Of Oz”

June 6, 2021

June 6, 2021

Celebrate LGBTQ Pride with an interactive screening of The Wizard of Oz, a fundraiser for the LGBTQ Center Long Beach. ...

LA Pride Announces LGBTQ Cinespia Event At Hollywood Forever Cemetery

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

In honor of 2021’s “Thrive With Pride” theme LA Pride has announced a special night at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. ...

WeHo Celebrates Asian American History Month

May 9, 2021

May 9, 2021

With Covid hate crimes on the rise against Asian Americans on the rise WeHo Reads 2021 season is Creating Hollywood...

Disarm Hate Documentary Presented By onePULSE Foundation

April 23, 2021

April 23, 2021

The onePULSE Foundation announced its free virtual film screening of the director’s cut of the documentary, Disarm Hate, which takes...

Trans Los Angeles A Film Full Of Queer Latinx Talent

April 4, 2021

April 4, 2021

Trans Los Angeles is an anthology composed of four short films directed and written by transgender director Kase Peña. Each...

New Harry Potter Video Game Will Feature Trans Witches & Wizards

March 14, 2021

March 14, 2021

The newest Harry Potter video game titled Hogwarts Legacy will allow players to create trans characters.  The game will allow...

Disney Shuts Down Studio Making First Feature Film With Queer Lead Character

February 25, 2021

February 25, 2021

Disney has shut down a studio that was making the company’s first feature length animated feature with a queer lead,...

Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Played Mark Twain, Dies At 95

February 3, 2021

February 3, 2021

Hal Holbrook, the actor best known for his accurate portrayal of Samuel Clemens — better known as Mark Twain —...

We-Drive Ins Opening New Location In Santa Monica

January 28, 2021

January 28, 2021

WE Drive-Ins has announced the opening of an exclusive premiere drive-in experience featuring all new release films, with their newest...

Trailblazing Actress Cicely Tyson Dies At 96

January 28, 2021

January 28, 2021

Iconic actress, former model and civil rights activist Cicely Tyson has died at the age of 96.  Tyson’s manager Larry...