Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Circle (Der Kreis).

‘Love ain’t no crime’ is the tag line of a Swiss docudrama, released in 2014 and written and directed by Stefan Haupt, about the people involved around a gay publication called The Circle that was published in Zurich in the 1940’s and 50’s. It was seen by the whole of Europe as the pioneer of gay emancipation but infamously scapegoated for the murder of several gay men that took place in the so-called Stricher-Milieu (the gay prostitute scene) in Zurich.
The beautiful young transvestite that catches the attention of Ernst Ostertag.
The movie is set both in the 1950’s and modern day and concentrates on the story of two men, still together today, who fall in love when one of them Ernst Ostertag, a young rather shy teacher who becomes a member of the gay organisation that publishes Der Kreis[1], meets Robi Rapp a beautiful young transvestite performing at one of the many gay costume balls put on to raise funds.  We follow the two lovers through the high point and the eventual decline of the organisation with on screen interviews with the real Ostertag and Rapp. There on screen personalities are played by Matthies Hungerbuhler and Sven Schelker.
Robi Rapp and Ernst Ostertag.

Seven Schelker and Matties Hungerbuhler.

The movie is not just about post war gay history and the prejudice surrounding a magazine but the prejudice about a section of society that were not allowed to live their lives as they wish even thou it did not affect others. It was premiered at the Berlin Film Festival but has never received a cinematic release in the UK.  As well as being a gay film, The Circle is above all a wonderful plea for freedom to love.[2]

Rapp and Ostertag tell their story. 

[1] Der Kreis, which was founded in the 30‘s, arose from the early gay movement of the 20th century and stood for an idealized gay self-image. As it was the only gay self-help organization in the world that survived the Nazi period in Europe, it became a model for similar organizations in many other countries in Europe and even in the USA.

[2] Cineuropa.

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