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Meet the 2015 SXSW Filmmakers #6: Lewis Bennet Shines a Spotlight on Former Escort and Musician Salam Kahil

Meet the 2015 SXSW Filmmakers #6: Lewis Bennet Shines a Spotlight on Former Escort and Musician Salam Kahil

Deli owner Salam Kahil is an art collector, a former male escort, an amateur musician, and a sandwich maker to the homeless in Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood but his true passion is talking about blowjobs. [Synopsis courtesy SXSW]

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

It’s a documentary about a Lebanese-Canadian former male escort deli owner (and philanthropist) who really likes to talk about his penis.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

It’s about finding a new family when the one you’re born with doesn’t work out.

Our documentary subject, Salam Kahil, has suffered considerably at the hands of his family and when you combine that with the taxing relationships in which he may have engaged as a male escort, you would think that he would be driven to misanthropy. Yet, in something of a surprise twist, the man he has become loves people very deeply. He says it over and over. It’s clear in every moment that we see him at the deli, that he gets so much joy out of the company of the people around him.

He’s also managed to channel all of this pain from his youth into some of the funniest anecdotes and stories that you’ll ever hear.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I make comedic documentaries in Vancouver with two of my friends, Benjamin Taft and Calum MacLeod.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

Trying to finish the film in the evenings and weekends with no budget while we’re all working full time.

What do you want the SXSW audience to take away from your film?

Lots of things but hopefully a lot of laughs and perhaps some empathy for the struggle of your fellow human.

Any Films Inspire You?

Here are a couple: “My Winnipeg,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Her,” “The Comedy,” and films by Sacha Baron Cohen, Richard Linklater, Alexander Payne, and Louis Theroux. And lots of television: “Tim & Eric,” “Girls,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “Louie,” and “Nathan for You.”

What’s next?

I’d like to hang out with my girlfriend, my friends, and my family – I haven’t seen them in a while. And get some exercise and sleep and read a book. Then I’d like to make another film – perhaps something that’s scripted or semi-scripted. I’d also love to find a comedy writing job or an editing job on a comedic film or television show.

What cameras did you shoot on?

Mostly a Canon 5D MKII, but also a Canon C300, a Panasonic GH2, and a GoPro.

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?

Yeah, we used Indiegogo.

Did you go to film school? If so, which one? 

I took a digital film and television production program at a place called the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). It was film school-ish.

Indiewire invited SXSW Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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