In his latest production, The End, Noel Alejandro is exploring human ephemerality within the context of an explicit and erotic film.
Filmed in Berlin, The End stars Bishop Black, Pierre Emö, and Manuel Voss.
Alejandro has developed a trademark style of combining complex emotional scenes with intense and passionate sex.
In this film, Alejandro gives us the story of Javier — an obsessed artist who is grieving after the death of his lover Ivan. Javier experiences sorrow as a combination of memories and instinct, requiring a confrontation with his personal demon before he can be released from the purgatory of his grief.
I recently caught up with Noel Alejandro for a behind-the-scenes look at The End.
What was the inspiration for the story of The End?
It’s a film about love and endings. I have my own stories to tell here, but The End is also about the connection we can only feel with ourselves.
I’ve always found death very inspirational — it occupies a big part of my thoughts each day. I’m kind of pessimistic in this respect, so I decided to try and take some benefit from this anguish.
You’ve described The End as your most audacious production to date. What makes this film so audacious?
I finally produced a film in a more responsible way — I delegated tasks to real professionals, and we worked entirely by following the script.
Normally I’m just finding my own way with a film, and editing it quickly to release it as early as possible, but with this one I really wanted to make something I could feel proud of.
I’ve never really thought of myself as a porn studio, but The End really fits my vision of being a melodramatic filmmaker who features sex in his films.
What was your casting process?
I knew Pierre from my film Call Me a Ghost — we became friends during that production. From the beginning I had him in mind for this role in The End.
Pierre has this angelic face that I love. He’s also charismatic, he knows how to perform, his intelligence leaves a footprint on everything he does, and he likes to spend time with me, so he was easy choice.
I cast Bishop Black after another actor rejected the role, but I couldn’t be happier. I’d seen Bishop in Erika Lust films, and he’s one of the most attractive and elegant guys that I’ve ever worked with.
What location did you use for filming?
My friend Daniel offered us his apartment in Berlin. It was great to have the chance to film in a real Berliner apartment — everything you see in the film is a classic Berliner house look.
Is The End a film that will only be appreciated by gay men?
I don’t think so. A lot of women watch my films — I often have emails from women telling me that they like my work and that they connect with it very easily. That really makes me feel proud of what I’m doing.
Your films are a fairly unique blend of narrative, sensuality, and sex. What are some of the biggest challenges you encounter when making a film like this?
Narrative itself is very complicated. After making some films you realise that there are some rules that can’t be dismissed in order to make an understandable and solid story, a story that connects with an audience.
Having to give dialogue to actors that aren’t used to that style of performing isn’t easy, and of course having to add a sex scene without it being too forced and without losing credibility is also a big responsibility.
A good short film requires time and some budget – it’s a challenge to make the film without both of those elements.
My films are, little by little, getting more financial and I’m happy for that. The real challenge for me is to get a good story, one that I connect with, and to put it on screen.
My next film is going to be a big challenge in terms of the topic — I’m realising how many feelings I’ve been going through all my life that can actually be put into a film.
What do you hope that people feel when watching The End?
I hope that they connect with the story and understand exactly what’s going on. I love hearing feedback from people who have watched my films – everyone can reach me through Instagram or Facebook.
Who are some of the filmmakers that have inspired you?
Jaime Rosales, Markus Schleinzer, Martin Provost, Michael Hanneke, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Darren Aronofsky, Lars Von trier. and Almodovar.
Have you spent much time in Barcelona recently? I was wondering what your experience of the city was like given the current political instability there?
I was born there, my family and friends are there, so I go anytime I can. The political situation is just very sad. We have two different countries in one — Spain and Catalonia — with a very, very old conflict, and what just happened is very sad.
If the majority of a society wants to be heard, they cannot be beaten or humiliated as has been happening. We don’t live in a democracy anymore when the majority of a society is criminalised for wanting to say express their opinion by voting. It’s crazy. The damage is now done forever and will take decades to heal, all because the government ignored the reality of how people felt. Shame on them!
How are you enjoying life in Berlin?
I moved here a few months ago, and I’m in love with this city. I really have the feeling that this is a way more modern society — compared to Brussels, or Barcelona.
Everybody just accepts their sexuality, and we’re not afraid if being too much or something. This is life!
Although the weather is bad, for many years Berlin has been the place to be, and it will be for many years – this is a city with powerful vibes.
What travel tips would you give someone visiting Berlin?
I’m very bad recommending places. I’m pretty much always working, but whenever I take some time off my friends take me to some beautiful brunch places.
Also, the best techno parties are here. I’ve been couple of times to Tresor Herrensauna, Berghain, and Same Bitches. These are the kind of parties that you need to experience at least once in your life, but you also need to be careful — it is easy to fall into the kind of drug spiral that could destroy anyone.
What next for Noel Alejandro?
New short films for sure. I’m currently very obsessed with taking my inner fears and transforming them into films. Some people might ask why am I still making erotic films, but to me there’s nothing more inspiring than changing something that needs to be refreshed. It’s good to take on the challenge of never taking the easiest way, I’m always trying to break the rules.
The End is available via NoelAlejandroFilms.com
You can follow Noel Alejandro via Instagram
We want to hear your opinion
Giving a voice to gay Arab men
I caught up with author Samer Bo to talk about writing erotic gay fiction in Egypt.
What led you to start writing erotic gay fiction?
I was forgetting what was happening. I noticed that when someone asked me about what happened to me the previous week, I couldn’t remember the details.
I think forgetting was my defence-mechanism for all the pain and trouble.
So, I started by writing my diaries, which ended to be quite erotic sometimes. Then that moved to erotic fiction.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your stories?
Inspiration comes from my personal experiences and sometimes my friends’ experiences. Other times, I just meet a guy or watch a movie, and it inspires me to write a story.
Who are your target audience?
I write for myself before anyone else. I’d love all gay men to read and get aroused by my stories.
But I guess I do write for minorities — people who don’t usually get represented in media, porn, or erotic stories. I want people to see themselves represented in my novels.
What sort of feedback do you get from your readers?
I get a lot of positive feedback from people in the Middle East who finally find a voice speaking to them. Some see me as a role model — a type of Egyptian guy that they never see in the media.
Do your friends and family know that you write erotic gay fiction?
Only some close friends know. I’m not in touch with my family anyway. Samer is my real name, but I changed my last name to Bo.
Have you had any negative reactions to the gay erotic fiction that you write?
I only tell people about my writing if I know that they’re either gay or gay friendly. So I haven’t had negative reactions in that respect.
However, I have had multiple incidents of homophobia. I was arrested once.
Son of the President isn’t an erotic story, how did that story come to you?
That story is based on the real-life story of an older friend that I met a few years ago. I told him about my erotic stories, and he asked me to write an erotic story inspired by his experiences.
However, I felt that if I wrote it as erotica, it would take away from the essence of the story. So I left it as non-erotic story.
What do you hope that people feel when reading your stories?
First of all, aroused from my erotic stories. Plus, I want people to feel represented.
Gay Arabs are not represented in any kind of media. We’re being suppressed and discriminated against. A lot of gay men in the Middle East feel that being gay is wrong, and that homosexuality is a sin.
This is my small way to help those men feel better about themselves.
What are some of your goals and ambitions for the remainder of 2018?
More stories, maybe some non-erotic ones. I’m also helping a friend of mine to change his non-erotic short story into a play.
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