Opening 13 Jul 2017
The last preparations are being made aboard the luxury cruise ship. Soft music accompanies a cabin maid at work, distributing condoms onto every bed. This is a party boat. Shortly, 3000 gay men will be arriving from all corners of the world, comprising 89 nations. This is a yearly event. Each evening is dedicated to a theme and the passengers come up with the most extraordinary costumes. But, more often than not, half-naked, well-endowed and coquettish bodies are parading in front of the camera, dancing to thumping rhythms of blaring disco music. This unashamed self-display of dozens of gay men can become a bit overwhelming. Next morning a lone crew member picks up used condoms from the deck.
There is more to this documentary than looking at tanned male bodies. Director Milewski gives a glimpse behind the scene by introducing five very different men who freely share their views and feelings. Young Marek from Poland wants to be loved for himself and not just for his well-trained body. The shy 32-year old Dipankar feels lost and lonely among all the athletic bodies. Born in India, he now lives in Dubai for the sake of his family. Having a gay member in the family would have brought shame over his entire clan. He has never had a relationship but hopes to find the right partner on this trip. Good looking Ramzi is a Palestinian refugee. In his country he just escaped jail for being homosexual. Now he is free, having settled himself with his Belgian boyfriend. His mother must never know that he is gay. She will stop talking to him – and that would devastate him. Every week they communicate per telephone. The serene Philippe, accompanied by his long-term partner, is from France. He moves around in a wheelchair since having suffered from meningitis 20 years ago. It amuses him to watch the high-spirited crowd and he enjoys the sort of family feeling on the boat. Party-animal Martin comes from Austria. This lively 42-year-old is HIV positive, reveling in the promiscuity on board. But he also stresses the importance of responsible protection.
No doubt, cruising on a luxurious liner reflects a superficial world. I enjoyed the glitzy images, the extravaganza and the humor. Despite the predominant testosterone-driven bodybuilder-types, there was a real mix of ages, cultures and body shapes. The open discussions about free love or old-fashioned desires for monogamy and friendship don't only apply to the gay community but are of general concern. (Birgit Schrumpf)