Angelina Maccarone's harrowing movie Unveiled, which explores gender and sexual identity, oppression, love and expatriation, seems like the dark side of Hedwig's tale. Fariba (the stunning Tabatabai), an Iranian lesbian, attempts to enter Germany illegally after fleeing her repressive homeland. She ends up being detained along with fellow countryman Siamak (Akhavan) and the two strike up a friendship while waiting to hear if they can stay in the West. After learning she is to be deported, Fariba finds Siamak, who has been granted asylum, dead—and she immediately takes on his identity.
At first, Fariba finds a certain freedom in posing as male. She takes a menial man's job and is able to flirt openly with women, particularly Anne (Sarnau), a headstrong single mom. But as they grow closer, Fariba comes to despise her disguise and desperately tries to scrape together enough money to buy a black-market passport so she can be herself again. Like Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry, Tabatabai is both believable and charming as a man. It's obvious why Anne is attracted to her and why Fariba's male coworkers see her as a threat. Although she removes her veil the moment she leaves Iran, Fariba doesn't lose her inhibitions until she reveals herself to Anne. It's through their relationship that Fariba blossoms as a lesbian and a woman, and finally finds liberty. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.)