THE CIRCLE (DER KREIS)
In the fifties Zurich was a ‘happy island’ for gays from all over Europe: it was a cosmopolitan, modern and tolerant city, above all with respect to the rest of the continent. This was also thanks to the Der Kreis organization, founded by Karl “Rolf” Meier in the thirties and which soon became the nerve centre of a network of similar organizations both in Europe and America. Der Kreis, through the publication of the same named magazine, led a cultural and social battle defending the rights of all homosexuals, as well as running a bar for all ‘ homophiles’ where famous parties with hundreds of participants from all over Europe took place. Haupt’s film, mixing fiction and documentary, tells of the golden age of the organization and its slow decline, which began in 1959 when Zurich was overcome by a wave of social repression. Following a series of murders in the neighbourhood where gay prostitution took place, the police began arresting and creating files on homosexuals, as the newspapers transformed the gay community from victims to predators. But the film also tells the tormented love story between the shy teacher Ernst Ostertag and the young transvestite Röbi Rapp, star of the gay clubs.
Archived images and interviews with the real Ostertag and Rapp are alternated with the fictional story, creating a short-circuit between History and personal affairs, reporting and narration, managing to capture the audience’s attention without betraying the historical truth.
“The film focuses on our love story, which in the 50s was a social taboo and, still today – 60 years later – asks the question of why (and where) this is still a burning topic” (Röbi Rapp and Ernst Ostertag)
Teddy Award for Best Documentary and Panorama Audience Award at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival; Best Feature Filme at the Torino Gay&Lesbian Film Festival 2014.