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Category Archives: حقوق الاقليات

Pictured is an Egyptian promotional poster for the 1993 Sherif Arafa film Terrorism and Barbeque starring Adel Imam.

SO

Adel Imam decides to make use of his new found power. He decides to fulfill his immediate need which was hunger. He was hungry and decided to order Kabab, not only for him, but for all the hostages that he took :). All of a sudden his popularity soars!!

What happens next is that the government refuses to deliver the Kabab – which is by the way ground beef mixed with onions and spices and parsley barbecued on a skewer – delicious. Something that many people in Egypt cant afford to eat anymore.
and the negotiations start , and Adel Imam has sow people helping him, they are not hostages anymore inside, they all realized that their government doesnt give a rat’s ass about them , they wouldnt even feed them.

The situation escallated, the state security forces are here, and willing to do anything to finish this hostage situation which is getting too much coverage on all media, there are too many hostages, and nobody knows who are the terrorist group, and they refuse to negotiate before the Kabab is delivered.
The ‘security’ (security of the Dictator regime) forces try to attack, but the terrorists use butane tanks as bombs which made a great explosion that kept off the security forces.

The way the movie ends is extraordinary!!

The Kabab did come, and everyone ate 🙂 they all were very grateful for Adel Imam and his aids, and worried about what will happen to him

they all came out with the most brilliant idea!!

the security forces were informed that all hostages will be released, and they were released , all of them , including the accidental terrorists, the crowds embraced then and hid them , the were so many many people that the security forces couldnt tell who were the kidnappers . they all came out of the door like a huge river , like a Wallmart Black Friday stampede.

and all’s well that ends well, no one was caught , no one was punished , and everyone has a belly full of delicious Kabab!!

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This is the name of a brilliant film – starring the top Egyptian comedian and amazing actor Adel Imam.
In this movie, Adel Imam is a this poor employee and he is married and he has some business with the government , I think he was trying to change his children’s school. There are many coutries that have burocracy, but what we saw Adel Imam go through was insanty not burocracy. The river of people up and down the stairs of this HUGE building , so many many of them, and it is a struggle just to jump out of the river into the office you are trying to enter, only to find two female employees gossiping and preparing the beans and knitting!!

This is reality! in the Arab countries it is , I have seen it with my own eyes. Back to the movie, Adel Imam is having a hard time and it is getting harder and harder to take time off his own work to go to the ministry to try and get his work done with the government.

One day , and he just had it, he is in this ministry in the river of people, going round and round, something happens, the policeman panics and throws his gun, Adel Imam picks it, innocently to give it back , but the officer already thought Adel Imam is irhabi – that means he thought he is a terrorist, all of a sudden , everyone is terrified , on the floor , silent, and he is standing with the gun in his hands!! he has all the power all of a sudden, over all these hundreds of people , he took over the building without even meaning to do it!!

so
what will he do with this newfound power???

ALTHOUGH nobody from the Ministry of Education or the Saudi Embassy in London has ever said a thing, it has always been my personal policy that I am a representative of Saudi Arabia and in some minor form or other perform a diplomatic service.
No, I am not a government official and have absolutely no status to speak of. But while I am a post-graduate student at the University of Newcastle, I and many of my Saudi classmates believe we have a duty to present the best possible face of Saudi Arabia.
To that end, I make it a point to meet and socialize with my British hosts, other international students and enjoy the northeast English lifestyle as much as possible while at the same time remembering who I am and where I come from.
The hijab makes me stand out more than most international students, so already there is a spotlight on me and my fellow Saudi female colleagues.
Given that every day I am faced with challenges of being a Muslim in Western society, I considered it a blessing and a privilege to meet last weekend in Glasgow with Princess Fadwa Bint Khalid Bin Abdullah, wife of HRH Prince Mohammad Bin Nawaf Bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
I must admit that leaving Newcastle for Glasgow early Sunday morning didn’t seem like the brightest idea. To tell you the truth when I left the warmth of my apartment and felt my cheeks sharply kissed by the cold wind of winter, I wondered why someone like me would be interested in an all-women gathering, even if held in a fancy hotel. I would rather spend that time drinking a cup of coffee and reading a book under my dear blanket on my comfortable couch.
But encouraged by a friend of mine, I went to the railway station to meet five other Saudi women students. Once we arrived in Edinburgh for a short stop, we had to disembark and stand in the cold for another 40 minutes before boarding again. I asked myself why a Madina girl used to the arid, dry weather in Saudi Arabia would make such a trip.
But with warmth and passion, Princess Fadwa greeted each and every one of us after we arrived. She wanted to hear about our experiences in the UK and whatever complaints we had about our studies and our scholarships. Naturally, being scholarship students, we never have enough money and we never feel that the Saudi Cultural Bureau is responsive enough to our needs. So the complaints poured forth.
Yet Princess Fadwa was patient with us. And all of us were in for a surprise. At the hotel when they announced her arrival, I expected to smell Oud and see at least a half-dozen companions hovering around the princess.
To my surprise, an elegant lady who looked as young as many women in the audience entered with a wide and attractive smile. She apologized for being 20 minutes late, and insisted on being seated in a place where she could see and hear every single person in the crowded room.
She engaged in a lively dialogue with the attendees that not only included Saudi female students in the UK, but the wives of male students as well. She discussed our problems with each person individually.
Citing the example of her own life as a working mother, she encouraged us to learn and get the most out of our stay in the UK. Nevertheless, she was keen to remind us that we should work hard to achieve the right balance between the increasing demand and challenge of our lives and our families.
She encouraged us to get out of our shells and get to know the local people and their culture. She asked us to maximize the benefit of being in such a beautiful country where civilization and modernization meet.
“You have to learn about culture as much as about science,” she said. “Go out, go to theaters and museums, and get along with your neighbors, teachers and classmates. I want people to get to know and love you for who you are but always keep in mind that communicating with others does not necessarily mean changing your skin or adopting new values. Do mix but keep your culture and religion intact.”
She said that no matter what officials do to promote the social and cultural aspect of Saudi Arabia, the Western media will perceive it as propaganda. She also said that what she cares about is people-to-people interaction.
“I want the people here to see the humanitarian side of Saudis,” she said.
It was a relief to me, but not unexpected, to hear Princess Fadwa confirm and endorse what I and my fellow female Saudi students already believe in. Some of our harshest critics are other Saudis who give us disapproving or harsh looks and mutter to themselves when they see us socialize with Westerners or enjoy a movie at the cinema.
Princess Fadwa put me at ease and made me less self-conscious about how I conduct myself in my host country.
The princess was accompanied by Dr. Elham Danish, head of the women’s section in the Saudi Embassy in London, and Sawsan Jad, female students coordinator in London, who both introduced the group to the Tawasul volunteering program.
The program was launched three years ago in London to connect Saudi families – and in particular women – in the UK and Ireland. The program aims at raising women’s awareness of the available social opportunities. It also focuses on tackling women’s social, financial and health problems.
One important lesson I learned from the gathering is that behind many Saudi women on a scholarship there is a sad story of injustice, divorce or separation from the ones they love. I have come to learn that Saudi women are real fighters and they deserve society’s care, respect and trust.
The sacrifices they have made to obtain a university scholarship are worth acknowledgment both locally and internationally. The determination that I saw in those women’s eyes has assured me that this is their time and they will be the new leaders of positive change that our present leaders are seeking.

from http://arabisto.net/p_blogEntry.cfm?blogID=63&blogEntryID=1356

By Sabria Jawhar Bio


No Arab book has ever been sold for so much money to foreign publishing houses. Though it is part of the current trend that is witnessing both real and fictional erotic confessions by women writers storming the best-seller lists, Salwa Al Neimi’s novel has substantially more to offer than the mere lurid sensationalism of some of its competitors. By Stefan Weidner

T. Langro)
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Born in Damascus in the late 1950s, writer and journalist Al Niemi has lived in Paris for many years. With Borhân al Asal she has written a book with an elusive quality that defies simple categorisations of it as either autobiographic or pornographic and, though it avoids sensationalism, the book’s impact has certainly been sensational.

The story is told by a nameless woman whose anonymity is Salwa Al Neimi’s only concession to the Arab world’s conventions of decency and propriety. The narrator works as a librarian, first in Damascus and then in Paris, but spends her working hours in secret bouts of reading, delving into the world of classical Arab erotica. Though the existence of such material tends to be forgotten nowadays, and it is likely to be sought for in vain on the Arab book market, it does exist, and has done so in copious quantities since at least the 9th century. In classical (as opposed to fundamentalist) Islam, sexual desire, not least female sexuality, is viewed as a gift from God, a foretaste of the delights of paradise.

Eroticism in word and deed

The discovery of these books and a meeting with a man she calls “the thinker” (who later turns out to be more than one) sets a process of sexual self-liberation in motion. Not only does she now become aware of her sexuality, and able to enjoy it freely and uninhibitedly, but, inspired by her reading of the erotic classics, she also discovers a way of putting this into words.
Verlag Hoffmann & Campe)
On the one hand we have the narrator’s relation of the sexual adventures of herself and her girlfriends, and on the other, what amounts almost to an essayistic plea for the revival or recovery of a language of sexuality, a language that once existed but which has now been lost to the Arab world. “In the 13th century, Sheikh Al Suyuti wrote a book on the art of love especially for women. Modern readers coming across it now would not understand a word – a bit like expecting a caveman to understand computer science! How can we speak of sexual education when the people don’t even know the simplest basics of anatomy?”

Ultimately the book is an appeal for change, for putting an end to this kind of ignorance and creating a basis for the sexual liberation of men and women.

Postmodern games

The library director decides to send the narrator to a conference in America where she is to give a lecture on the old Arab erotic textbooks – to air the topic in public. Due to security considerations however, we find out she will not be able to take part in the conference, but Borhân al Asal, the book that contains this story within the story, so to speak, itself represents the essay that the narrator should have written, though, admittedly, augmented by her personal experiences. It also represents, at one and the same time, a revival of, and a postmodern game with, the old erotic literature; the chapter headings reading almost as if they were quotations from the literature itself – “On teaching and learning”, “On wiles and ruses”. This pattern is broken, however, when we come to the ironic “Sex and the Arabic City” chapter.

Salwa Al Neimi’s message has a relevance that reaches beyond the Arab world. Were a feminist to read this plea for sensuality and sexual freedom says the narrator at one point, “she would damn me as a slave to male ideology and declare all out war on me.” Salwa Al Neimi’s plea for promiscuity may well cause eyebrows to be raised and not just among those who prefer to adhere to the classic concepts of family and relationships. The book is both surprising and provocative, an intelligent mix of essay and narration – what it is not, however, in spite of the subtitle, is a novel.

Stefan Weidner
Translated from the German by Ron Walker
Salwa Al Neimi: Der Honigkuss. Translated from Arabic by Doris Kilias. Published by Hoffmann and Campe, Hamburg 2008, pp. 126 14.95 euros

http://www.aafusa.org/salwa_al_neimi.htm

Harvey Bernard Milk
Harvey Milk

American politician and
gay rights activist


In office
January 8 – November 27, 1978
Preceded by District Created
Succeeded by Harry Britt
(appointed)
Constituency The Castro,
Haight-Ashbury,
Duboce Triangle,
Noe Valley

Born May 22, 1930(1930-05-22)
Woodmere, New York
Died November 27, 1978 (aged 48)
San Francisco, California
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Residence San Francisco, California
Alma mater State University of New York at Albany

Tough actor honored with Stanley Kubrick Award

Sean Penn

With the rare exception, Sean Penn doesn’t play men of privilege. If the actor was transported back to the ’30s and ’40s, he’d likely be a contract player at Warner Bros., where talents like Cagney, Bogart and Garfield played streetwise toughs who never got a handout and survived on their wits.

Raised by unconventional, left-leaning parents — including a father (film and TV director Leo Penn) who was victimized by the blacklist — Penn has a predilection for working-class antiheroes that betrays a real-life need to understand, and sympathize with, those who’ve been victimized by a system too consumed by greed to give them a fair shake.

This fight against the status quo could be seen as a continuing thread in his work, wherein Penn’s identification with the downtrodden becomes a personal crusade.

Even as a relatively well-off celebrity, Penn could be seen as a scrapper — vigorously, perhaps even recklessly, defending his right to privacy while publicly exercising his freedom of speech. Penn’s forays to Baghdad and Tehran as a correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle in recent years demonstrated a need to witness, firsthand, the hardships many Middle Easterners face, as well as those of American soldiers stationed there. Call it a Method-actor approach to probing the complexities of a culture too often defined by fearmongering and mass-media stereotypes.

As Penn told John Lahr, who profiled the actor for the New Yorker in 2006, being a reporter and an actor are almost interchangeable. “It all feels the same to me,” he said. “Acting is everymanness, and loving everyman. Finally, you’re reaching out to people’s pain.”

This everyman sensibility has caused Penn to avoid the blockbuster formulas and cookie-cutter action vehicles that are the inevitable domain of even the most respected actors. But much like Stanley Kubrick, the filmmaker for whom the Britannia Awards’ most prestigious honor (now being bestowed upon Penn) is named, the actor-writer-director has never shown a need for commerciality for commerciality’s sake. He prefers to express himself creatively on a much more personal and idiosyncratic level, burrowing into his subjects with the passion and fire of an artist whose commitment knows no bounds.

His newspaper commentaries revealed the qualities that make Penn so compelling as an actor and a filmmaker: his powers of observation, his respect for the English language and a combination of intellectual curiosity and visceral engagement.

His attraction to Chris McCandless, the young idealist of “Into the Wild” (2007) who turned his back on the material world only to perish in the Alaskan wilderness, reflects this need to test his mettle. Penn, who wrote the screenplay based on Jon Krakauer‘s book and directed the film, explained at the time that “there was something about going outside your comfort zone” that made the material and the character important, and, in turn, “finding out what you’re made of in doing that.”

This unwillingness to be tamed, as an artist or a citizen, goes some way in explaining an oeuvre peppered with a rogue’s gallery of salt-of-the-earth outsiders, misfits and renegades.

Of his ex-con stricken by grief and bent on revenge in “Mystic River,” for which he won an Oscar, the New York Times‘ A.O. Scott wrote that Penn’s Jimmy Markum “is not only one of the best performances of the year, but also one of the definitive pieces of screen acting in the last half century, the culmination of a realist tradition that began in the old Actors Studio and begat Brando, Dean, Pacino and De Niro.

“But Mr. Penn,” Scott continued, “as gifted and disciplined as any of his precursors, makes them all look like, well, actors. He has purged his work of any trace of theatricality or showmanship while retaining all the directness and force that their applications of the Method have brought into American movies.”

Often the characters he plays or the stories he tells as a filmmaker feature protagonists so volatile as to make the viewer squeamish, as exemplified by Viggo Mortensen‘s scary but magnetic Vietnam vet in “The Indian Runner” (1991), Penn’s directorial debut.

Penn makes that quality palpable, whether he means to or not. Woody Allen, who directed Penn in “Sweet and Lowdown” (1999), admitted in Lahr’s New Yorker feature that “it’s hard to get through to him, and you feel that at any minute he could blow up at you.”

Allen suggested that the actor keeps his emotional inner life in reserve as a way of protecting himself. But there’s a kinder, gentler side to Penn, as his jazz guitarist Emmet Ray in “Sweet and Lowdown” reveals, even if he’s guilty of selfishness and cruelty.

That gentleness and compassion could very well reach their greatest expression in “Milk,” in which Penn’s title performance represents the flip side of his blustery, corrupt demagogue in “All the King’s Men.” As the San Francisco supervisor and gay activist who was cut down by an assassin’s bullet in 1978, Penn’s displays the kind of sweetness and light that he’s largely kept in reserve.

And, perhaps for the first time, his real life as a political progressive and his dramatic portrayal as a trailblazing champion of civil rights could be seen as art imitating life.

Web: baftala.org

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117995332.html?categoryid=3324&cs=1&nid=2562

‘ميلك’ : ذهب ،ولكن لم ينسى ، فيلم “ميلك” : شون بن يؤدي ببراعة دور احد اهم الرواد من ناشطي حقوق المثليين في امريكا في فيلم يروي قصة كفاح المثليين في امريكا في السبعينات والثمانينات

شون بن في "ليب"

شون بن يؤدي احد اجرأ عروضه وأشدها اثارة في هذا الفيلم . يسرد المخرج “جس فان سانتس” قصة حياة الناشط والسياسي الامريكي المثلي “هارفي ميلك” ومصرع العنيف التراجيدي .

ميلك كان رجلا رقيقا مرحا يعمل في شركة تأمين عمره 40 سنة. وكان يحيا حياته المثلية في السر . في يوم وهو في محطة القطار التقي بشاب اصغر منه و احبا بعضهما ورحلا الى سان فرانسيسكو بعد ان سمعا انه هناك حي جديد يسكنه المثليين في ضاحية “كاسترو” .

بعد رحيلهما الى سان فرانسيسكو اطلق “ميلك” شعره ولحيته وغير افكاره الى الليبراليه الشديدة وصار ناشط سياسي يدافع عن حقوق الانسان بشكل عام و حقوق المثليين بشكل خاص .

في عام ١٩٧٧ رشح ميلك نفسه لمنصب مشرف في بلدية مدينة سان فرانسيسكو فكان بذلك أول رجل سياسة مثلي معلن لميوله يقوم بترشيح نفسه لمنصب ذو اهمية في اي بلدية في امريكا. ظل “هارفي ميلك ” يخسر عاما بعد عام ويتلقى التهديدات بالقتل ولكنه لم ييأس أو يتراجع وظل يرشح نفسه وشكّّلّ حلفاء وظل يعمل هو واصدقاءه من المثليين وحلفائه حتى تم انتخابه اخيرا وتولى مهام منصبه في كانون الثاني / يناير من عام 1978

“ميلك” كان شخصية رئيسية في المعركة ضد التعصب الاجتماعي ولكنه لم يحيا طويلا حتى يري التغييرات الضخمة التى ادى اليها انتصاره السياسي المتواضع. تم لأسف قتله على يد زميل له مشرف اسمه “دان وايت” كان رجل اطفاء سابق محافظ تولى منصبه في نفس الوقت مع “ميلك”. كان “وايت” يملك جانبا سوداويا غامضا ومزاج متقلب وتصرفات غير متوقعة وكان الى حد ما مفتونا ب”هارفي” لدرجة ان هارفي اعتقد انه ربما يكون مثلي يكتم امره . كان “وايت” متزوج امرأة وله اطفال. وكما يبدو انه كان غير متزن نفسيا. يوم واحد في تشرين الثاني / نوفمبر من عام 1978 في مبنى مكاتب البلديه وخلال الدوام في مكتب قام باطلاق الرصاص على “هارفي ميلك” و على رئيس بلدية سان فرانسيسكو في ذلك الوقت ” جورج موسكوني” على اثر خلاف سياسي مما ادى الى مصرع كليهما . حكم على “وايت” بالسجن ٥ سنوات فقط على الجريمتين . بعد خروجه من السجن بعام ونصف قام بالانتحار.

الفيلم يزخر بقصص المثليين الحقيقية . قصص حب وصداقة وولاء وخيانة وشجاعة وُجبن ويؤدي شون بن دوره بشكل رائع. يقوم بعض الاشخاص من اصدقاء وزملاء “ميلك” بالتمثيل في هذا الفيلم.

Sean Penn in "Milk"

Sean Penn gives one of his most fearless and thrilling performances in “Milk,” director Gus Van Sant’s recounting of the life and violent death of the first openly gay man to be elected to a significant municipal position in America. The year was 1977, the position was on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and the man was Harvey Milk, a disarmingly cheerful but determined gay-rights activist. Milk was a major figure in the battle against social intolerance, but he never lived to see the major changes his modest political triumph helped facilitate. After being sworn into office, he had less than one year to live before being murdered by an unbalanced fellow supervisor.

Van Sant takes up Milk’s story in 1970, in New York, where he’s a closeted gay man (and a Republican) working for an insurance company. It’s his fortieth birthday, and down in a subway station he strikes up a conversation with a younger man named Scott (James Franco), who’s friendly, but not especially available. “You’re cute,” he tells Harvey, “but I don’t date guys over forty.” Since Harvey comes in just under that particular wire, they return to his apartment and eventually make love.

Scott is surprised that Harvey is still in the closet. He suggests they relocate to San Francisco, where a new gay neighborhood is coming together in the Castro district. The ’60s hippie era is definitively dead, but Harvey, flushed with liberation, goes longhair anyway. Now completely out of the closet, he organizes a gay boycott of homophobic businesses. “We can change things,” he says, “but we have to start with our neighborhood.” Next, he strikes an unlikely alliance with the Teamsters for a gay boycott of the non-unionized Coors beer company, in return for which the Teamsters agree to accept gay truck drivers as members. Now thoroughly hooked on politics, Harvey cuts his hair and takes to wearing three-piece suits. He runs for various offices and keeps losing, but by smaller margins each time. His self-deprecating demeanor is hard to resist: “I know I’m not what you expected,” he tells one group of potential straight supporters, “but I left my high heels at home.”

Milk is sworn into office in January of 1978, along with another new supervisor named Dan White, a conservative ex-fireman. White is a man of deep and unpredictable dark moods; he seems obscurely conflicted, and Harvey is intrigued: “I think he may be one of us,” he tells some friends. Maybe, maybe not. One day in November of 1978, in a spasm of rage at a perceived political injustice, White goes to City Hall with a gun, shoots the mayor, George Moscone, in his office, then seeks out Milk, luring him into another office and shooting him, too. (White served just five years in jail for this double homicide; a year and a half after his release, he committed suicide.)

The most striking thing about Van Sant’s film is the carefully muted dignity with which it presents Milk’s story, never descending into melodrama or gay-rights boosterism (except at the very end, which perhaps should have been re-thought). Instead, he builds up an intimate portrait of the man through an accretion of simple human details. (He makes little attempt to canonize his subject, either, scrupulously highlighting Milk’s distasteful insistence on outing closeted gays, and his unattractive desire to impose his liberal political agenda in every direction.) And in Penn, the director has a near-perfect star: a straight actor capable of playing a gay man without holding back in depicting Milk’s mannerisms, but without treading anywhere near gay caricature, either.

Penn receives extraordinary support from the rest of the film’s cast. Franco, especially, conveys a luminous affection for the man who’ll eventually drive him away in his obsession with politics; Diego Luna is alternately hilarious and heartbreaking as Milk’s new boyfriend, the loveably whacked-out Jack Lira; and Emile Hirsch, as a street-cruising Castro kid converted to Milk’s political activism, and Alison Pill, as the candidate’s pretty but hard-nosed lesbian campaign manager, create fully inhabited, memorable characters. But Penn presides over the movie with complete and unforgettable conviction. When he tells a friend who’s asked if it’d be all right to visit him in City Hall that he certainly should, “and wear the tightest jeans possible — don’t blend in,” you marvel at the precision of his tone and delivery. He’s a wonder to watch.

James Franco

BEVERLY HILLS, California — Look beyond “Twilight” and “Four Christmases,” and you’ll see that it was a small-budget Gus Van Sant film that hauled in four times their per-screen averages this past weekend while entering the top 10 on only 36 screens. Read the reviews, listen to the Oscar hype or check the news, and you might find it hard to believe that a ’70s-set biopic about a homosexual politician could prove so popular and relevant with all kinds of audiences. But there was only one Harvey Milk — and appropriately enough, the movie that tells his story is similarly becoming a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

“It’s funny, I grew up in the Bay Area in Palo Alto, 45 minutes away from San Francisco,” marveled “Pineapple Express” star James Franco, who shows tremendous range alongside Sean Penn‘s portrayal of the nation’s first openly gay elected official, but grew up never having heard of Harvey Milk’s nearby Castro Street revolution. “I’m a huge Gus fan and really wanted to just work with him on anything. When I heard he was doing this movie about Milk, I did a little research on who Harvey Milk was. I remember when I first watched the Oscar-winning documentary, ‘The Times of Harvey Milk,’ that something about Milk kind of looked familiar, like maybe I had seen a picture or something when I was in the city as a kid or something, but the fact was that I didn’t learn anything about him in school or growing up. And here I am in the Bay Area! So the rest of the country, I’m sure, knows absolutely nothing about him.

“That’s sad,” Franco added. “One of the great things about this movie is that I hope it really raises the awareness of who Harvey was and what he did.”

But one of the main obstacles in making the film was finding the right lead actor — if you could count our greatest leading actors on one hand, listing the number who could effectively portray Milk would probably limit you to a finger or two. Luckily, four-time Oscar nominee (and winner for 2004’s “Mystic River”) Sean Penn was eager to dig deep and give what some are calling the best performance of his career, all in the name of raising that awareness.

“When I went to the set, the first day I was there, like, two or there weeks after they’d stared shooting, [Penn] was a different person — not the guy I met a few years ago at a film festival, not the guy I had been rehearsing with,” said Diego Luna, who, like Franco, portrays one of the influential lovers Milk was forced to put on the back burner during his all-absorbing quest for civil rights. “Sean found that character, and it’s very different from everything that he has done before. Normally, his characters are more dark, and this guy is a guy that knew that love was the only thing that mattered.”

Unfortunately, those familiar with the story of Harvey Milk also know that the tale has a villain: fellow city supervisor Dan White. And while the Twinkie-fueled assassin certainly deserves to be remembered as a bad guy, it was the job of Josh Brolin to put the humanity back into a historical madman.

“You don’t want to misrepresent [White]. The thing is, you want to represent him in a way that is accurate, and he is seen as the bad guy. He is the monster of the story, but that’s the result of the story,” Brolin said of his own awards-worthy work, another facet of “Milk” that is building huge awards-season buzz. “The more interesting question to me is ‘Why?’ How did the guy get to the point that he felt [murder] was the only thing that he could resort to? So you follow this guy’s life, you follow his frustrations, you follow — at least from my character’s point of view — that he did have a relationship with Harvey. He was trying to be diplomatic and open himself up to diversity in order to work with people he wasn’t used to being around, especially gay people at that time. … [His supporters] wanted San Francisco to be what it used to be, built on this Catholic, white mentality.”

To be sure, the film is a powerhouse of acting performances, led by the work of Penn, Brolin, Franco, Luna and “Speed Racer” star Emile Hirsch.

“This is an opportunity for a whole new generation of people to learn about who Harvey Milk was — especially young people — and I think it’s high time,” said 23-year-old Hirsch, who plays Milk protégé Cleve Jones in the film. “After I learned about his life and his story, I had such a different perspective of gay people in general, and the gay-rights movement. I had so much more sympathy, because it humanized the movement and gives you a very close-up view of gay people’s lives in the film; you see it in a different way. Most people don’t know that many gay people, so they can make judgments on things they don’t fully understand.

“What Milk says in the film so eloquently is, ‘People vote two to one for us when they know one of us,’ ” Hirsch remembered, quoting one of Harvey’s equal-rights-for-all lines from the film. “And it’s so true.”

http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1600460/story.jhtml

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Even in liberal Hollywood, an openly gay actor with a marketable name is a hard commodity to find, and if anyone should know, it is the filmmakers behind new movie, “Milk.”

Fortunately for them they had Sean Penn, the very straight Oscar winner who has loyal fans and seems able to play any role in front of him, including San Francisco’s gay politician Harvey Milk who was murdered on the job in November, 1978.

“He came in kind of ready made” for the role, director Gus Van Sant told Reuters about winner of the best actor Academy Award for playing a hardened ex-convict in 2003’s “Mystic River.”

In real life, Penn has maintained a tough guy image ever since getting into scrapes with the paparazzi early in his career. Yet in the movies, he has shown wide versatility, whether playing a mentally retarded man in “I Am Sam,” a jazz guitarist in “Sweet and Lowdown” or a death row inmate in “Dead Man Walking” — all which earned him Oscar nominations.

Harvey Milk may be his best role yet, many critics say. Writing for USA Today, reviewer Claudia Puig called Penn’s performance “magnificent, career-topping” and Kenneth Turan, in a generally mixed review of the overall film, called Penn’s performance “strong and convincing.”

In recent years, several A-list actresses have come out of the closet as lesbians, including Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell. But it has been a rare event for gay men. Perhaps the highest profile actor to do so was TV star Neil Patrick Harris.

“It was hard to find gay actors who were out,” said openly gay director Van Sant. “There really aren’t (many). You could do it, but they would be unknowns and that would be fine with me, but the money (financiers) would start to get nervous.”

CHANGING TIMES

The fact that Penn and his co-stars — James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Diego Luna — could feel comfortable playing gay roles, coupled with how small the pool of marketable gay actors truly is, shows at least one thing: times have changed in Hollywood for gay men but they have also stayed the same.

In watching “Milk” amid the current U.S. political battles over gay marriage, audiences can’t help but ponder progress on gay rights because in looking at Harvey Milk, writer Dustin Lance Black has chosen as a backdrop the politician’s battle against California’s Proposition 6, which would have banned gay teachers in public schools in 1978.

In this past election cycle, the state’s voters approved a proposition banning gay marriage and since the November 4 balloting, gays have taken to the streets to protest what they see as an assault on their civil rights.

What would Milk have done in the same position? “He’d be right there on the streets with the marchers,” Van Sant said.

“Milk” picks up on the politician’s life after he moves from New York to California, and it focuses almost exclusively on Milk’s political involvement in San Francisco.

Milk lost several early campaigns but finally was elected to the city’s Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to hold a major public office in the United States.

By using broadcast film footage of the 1970s gay rights battles, Van Sant offers not just a portrait of a man, but a look at the times and the city, too.

After numerous false starts over more than a dozen years, “Milk” finally was made when marketable stars like Penn got involved. Also pivotal was the financial success of 2005 gay romance “Brokeback Mountain,” which raked in more than $175 million worldwide by winning fans among mainstream moviegoers.

A key factor for the success of “Milk” will be whether it, too, can cross over from strictly gay fans to the mainstream.

“I think it will,” said Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “The culture has clearly changed with regard to acceptance and visibility of gay people. Having said that, our public policy has changed not as much as we would have liked it to.”