Mixed Kebab @ Image + Nation

mixed kebabMarina (Karlijn Sileghem) runs her own bar restaurant in Antwerp, Belgium.  Her son Kevin (Simon Van Buyten) also works there.  Marina is an open minded woman who wants her gay son to find love.  At the restaurant she catches a customer checking out her son.  Ibrahim (Cem Akkanat) is Turkish and Muslim.  He is also gay, but has been living a closeted life at least with his family.  Not to go against his father’s (Ergun Simsek) wishes, Bram is going to marry his cousin Elif (Gamze Tazim) from Turkey.

Bram is the favoured son in the family as his younger brother, Furkan (Lukas De Wolf), is a hoodlum.  He skips class, steals things from local merchants and even robs Marina at knife point one evening.

Having to travel to Turkey to meet his cousin, Bram decides to bring Kevin along with him.  They stay at a hotel together in the same room.  Unbeknownst to them, as they are too busy getting to “know”each other, one of the hotel staff (Hakan Gurkan) who is in love with Elif takes pictures of them in compromising positions.  After being shown the photos Elif is upset, but is not willing to let her chance of moving to the Europe go up in flames, so she still wants to go through with the sham of a marriage.

Back at home Furkan has been taken under the wing of an fundamentalist Muslim group.  He receives the photos of Bram and Kevin.  He tells the rest of the family and when confronted Bram admits he is gay and will not be marrying Elif.  Their father tells Bram he is dead to him, so he has to live with Kevin and Marina.  Very angry Furkan goes to confront his brother at the restaurant and ends up getting stabbed by a drug dealer he had previously beaten up.  Bram comes out and rescues Furkan from further injury.  Has he intervened in time to save his brother’s life?  Can Bram and his family be reunited?

Mixed Kebab is a sometimes serious and sometimes comedic look at family and culture clash issues.  While the humour and semi-serious look at family, culture, sexuality, and religion is at times a little too forced it all comes out in the wash.  In other words it is entertaining.

There are interesting sides to the story. It examines racism from white society towards any and all ethnicities.  There is also the aspect of the whole way extremist Islamic communities recruit young people and how we see these communities.  Homosexuality and Islam is not a usual subject in films.  It is considered too hot an issue.  Wisely director Guy Lee Thys stays away from being too harsh or judgmental towards the Muslim community.  What he does accomplish is making a film that will open up some dialogue about homosexuality in the Muslim world.

Filled with comedy, drama, suspense, sexuality, and family conflict Mixed Kebab is a steady film that is quite entertaining.

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