Short Film DEVIL WEARS A SUIT Playing at June 2016 LGBT Film Festival in Toronto
Eli is an emerging filmmaker based in Melbourne, Australia. He has now completed his masters degree at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), where ‘Devil Wears a Suit’ is his graduating film.
Since graduating from RMIT’s Media and Communication undergraduate course, Eli has worked in film and television, with companies including Qantas, Emirates, Myer, NNT, Telstra, Sportsgirl and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute. Eli’s primary passion is writing and directing, and he is heavily inspired by filmmakers Stanley Kubrick, Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson and the screenwriting of Charlie Kaufman.
Considering this film to be a culmination of his efforts at the VCA, he is incredibly passionate about the subject matter of the film. Experimenting with non linear structure and form, while controversially exploring both his Jewish heritage and LGBTIQ+ rights within a visually dynamic sci-fi, Eli hopes to bring a level of insight and perceptiveness to the complex themes he examines in the film. Making it no easy viewing experience, Eli’s script studies each character’s unique and justifiable motivations in a non judgemental way.
Writing my first major short film, Devil Wears a Suit, I set out to create something that was fun to watch, comedic but had some biting social commentary. With an intention to meaningfully engage with the fascinating concept of a gay ‘cure’, I wanted to create sympathetic portrayals of characters that will decide that they would or wouldn’t ‘cure’ themselves, without passing any judgement onto them. I wanted to explore the plethora of reasons people would have for changing their sexuality. Setting the short film inside a close-knit, small Jewish community allowed me to dissect these themes within an authentic, believable environment where a contentious battle between faith and sexual identity rages on.
I set my sights on creating Devil Wears a Suit after conversing with religious members within Melbourne, Australia’s Jewish community. There seemed to be a cognitive dissonance between their own acceptance of homosexuality, and the unedited, written scripture objectively denouncing it. I thought about how amplified that dissonance and raw pain would be for a gay woman or man with a genuine belief in God. How would they reconcile their faith with their very real, possibly intense, private sexual thoughts blazing in their mind? When the idea of a gay ‘cure’ came to me, it seemed so fitting to place the device into this religious world, where it would be so desperately desired. As I started writing, it became clear that the gay cure was a metaphor for being in the closet – the closest thing to a real life ‘cure’ we have. And that those injecting themselves were people deciding to remain ‘normal’ and unchallenged within their community.
I made a point to avoid labelling any character as a hero or villain. Approaching the script in that way, I thought, would challenge both homophobic audiences, as well as an audience comprised of supporters of LGBTQI+ rights. It would also challenge both religious and secular audiences. All the characters in the film, as in real life, are caught up within structures they have little control over. Each character’s actions and decisions, from the Rabbi, to Adam – the young gay character questioning his sexuality – all have their own justifiable motivation and reasons that can be rationally explained as neither the right nor wrong decision.
It was only later in the writing process that I realised that Adam would need to meet a formerly religious Jew, someone who had tested ‘positive’ in the homosexuality tests, who represented a future version of Adam. The character would have taken the cure and led the isolated, lonely life without family or friends that would await Adam, should he, too, decide to inject himself. It would illustrate the incredible difficulty it would take to be true to yourself and I hope will allow audiences to understand the pain involved with sacrificing your ‘normal’ life for the privilege and freedom to love whoever you want to love.