John Benjamin Hickey has starred in LGBT must-see classics like Love! Valour! Compassion! & The Normal Heart, & The Anniversary Party, but it is his latest feature film Sublet that is grabbing some much deserved attention. In this May-December international romance, Hickey portrays a New York Times travel writer who arrives in Tel Aviv after enduring a tragedy of his own. The official synopsis states that “the energy of the city and his relationship with a younger man who becomes his tour guide bring him back to life.”
The swoon-worthy younger man in question is portrayed by Niv Nissim, in his first feature film role. The palpable and electrifying chemistry between Hickey & Nissim, as well as the stunning scenery of Tel Aviv, Israel has resulted in the film first premiering as part of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival. Subsequently, the project has played at the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, Vancouver Jewish Film Festival, BFI Flare London LGBTQ+ Film Festival, and Golden Horse Fantastic Film Festival.
Israeli director Eytan Fox (who directed the acclaimed 2002 gay armed forces romance Yossi & Jagger) showcases Hickey’s Michael, as a tightly wound (albeit perhaps slightly jaded) New York Times travel writer, paired curiously with Nissim’s film school student Tomer. Melding a somewhat rigid Michael alongside a more free & spontaneous Tomer, coupled with the stunning scenery of Tel Aviv, almost makes the exotic city a third character in the film. The film also delves into not just Hickey’s Michael surviving and documenting the AIDS crisis of the 80’s and 90’s, losing his first boyfriend to the pandemic, as well as his current-life struggle of of deciding to taking the leap into parenthood with his husband David in New York (documented through Skype calls). Seeing Hickey get a much-deserved leading role opposite Nissim showcases not just the already highly acclaimed performer’s own acting chops, but the electrifying chemistry between the performers gives viewers a peek at what Nissim may have to come career-wise in the future.
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