Understated yet emotionally resonant, Faraz Shariat’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama is both timely in its exploration of a global humanitarian crisis and a testament to the transformative power of queer love.
When we have no choice about the life we are born into, what choice do we have in the life we want to live? Faraz Shariat’s assured debut feature examines this by setting a tentative queer love story against the sobering realities of life as an immigrant in modern-day Germany. With dreamy cinematography that invokes summer crushes and stolen moments, No Hard Feelings is at turns sexy and romantic but nevertheless refuses to let its characters escape the pasts they are running from.
As a second-generation Irani-German millennial, Parvis has struggled to understand his heritage. Instead, he seeks solace in gay clubs and casual hook-ups with men who bluntly tell him they don’t usually go for “ethnic” guys. For reasons that are never explained, nor required, Parvis is sentenced to community service at a shelter for refugees. It’s there he meets the smouldering Amon and his older sister Bana, recent arrivals from Iran. Despite an initial misunderstanding, Parvis soon finds ways to spend more time at the shelter to be closer to Amon’s orbit.
As the trio’s friendship blossoms, Parvis is confronted with a glimpse of what his life could have been had his parents (played by Shariat’s real mother and father) not fled Iran before he was born. He admits that as a child he stopped calling himself an Iranian, much to the chagrin of Amon who spells out just how lucky he is to have a home. Despite their conflicting views and Amon’s hesitation, the pair embark on a burgeoning love affair, even as the threat of deportation looms. Shariat’s light directorial touch eschews audience manipulation for clear-eyed reality, allowing the characters’ fates to unfurl organically as they face a future that holds both hope and disappointment. — Chris Tse
About the Filmmaker
Growing up in Germany the son of exiled Iranis, Faraz Shariat studied media art to explore his experiences as a gay, second generation migrant. For No Hard Feelings, he won Best Feature Film at the FIRST STEPS Award 2019, Germany’s most important film prize for young filmmakers.
Jünglinge, founded by Paulina Lorenz and Shariat, is a collective of filmmakers in their mid-20s raised in the hybrid cultures of post-migrant Germany. Established around the idea that young, European film needs to tell queer, diverse and most of all – political – stories about growing up and living together in our societies, No Hard Feelings is the collective’s first narrative feature.