Director: Stefan Haupt Writers: Stefan Haupt (screenplay), Christian Felix (screenplay), Urs Frey, Ivan Madeo, Sabine Pochhammer Genres: Documentary, Biography, Drama Country: Switzerland Language: Swiss German, German, French Year: 2014 Duration: 102 min
Stars: Matthias Hungerbühler, Sven Schelker, Anatole Taubman, Marianne Sägebrecht, Stefan Witschi Watch on VIMEO
Stefan Haupt potpisuje režiju i scenarij filma čija se radnja odvija 1958. godine u Zurichu. Stidljivi, mladi nastavnik Ernst Ostertag zaljubljuje se u cross-dressersku zvijezdu Robija, no iako su istospolni odnosi bili legalni u to doba u Švicarskoj, bila je potrebna određena diskrecija. Oboje su bili članovi organizacije Der Krajs“ („Der Kreis“) koja je organizovala događaje za gej muškarce u nekom polutajnom istoimenom klubu, izdavala gej časopis i bavila se gej aktivizmom prikladnim za to doba. No nakon nekoliko ubistava koja su se dogodila u gej zajednici policija je počela raditi probleme – prekidati događaje, privoditi nedužne osobe i praviti spiskove gej osoba.Uz neviđeno maltretiranje gejeva raspadali su se brakovi, dešavala samoubistva, otkazi sa posla…
Ovaj film prati razvitak situacije oko “Kruga” tokom tih dešavanja te daje dokumentarni presjek borbe za LGBTIQ prava. Film je ovjenčan dvjema nagradama na Berlinaleu 2014. godine – osvojio je nagradu Teddy, kao i nagradu publike Panorama. Dobitnik je i mnoštva nagrada na raznim festivalim gej filma.
Stephan Haupt rođen je u Zurichu te od 1989. godine radi kao filmski reditelj nakon završetka Dramske akademije te je istaknuta ličnost na švajcarskoj filmskoj sceni.
Film me je na neki način podsjetio na događaje u Beogradu početkom 90-tih godina. U sred balkanskog rata u kojem se krvavo raspadala Jugoslavija u Beogradu su u kojekakvim podrumima ili u iznajmljenim lokalima nicali gej barovi i klubovi. Među prvim je bio otvoren bar “Farma”, a nakon toga su se počeli ređati “Prestige” , Xl itd. Uz obaveznu gej frendly muziku i gomilu turbo folka, mladi ali i stariji pederi su vikendom mogli sebi priuštiti da budu preponosni, uobraženi, ženstveni, drski i naravno sebi važni u tom prilično dekadentnom vremenu. Danas ti klubovi izgledaju sasvim drugačije, uz obavezne dark sobe u kojima se zamračene persone otimaju oko parčeta kurca, uz tematske večeri dešavaju i stvari koje su odraz kulturološkog miljea u kojem živimo. Mada istini za volju, performase kabaretskog tipa zamjenili su razni striperi i glatki dečkići koji se suludo vrte oko neke šipke u nadi da će ih zgrabiti neki alfa mužjak ako već ne može neki prebogati princ.
The true-life gay-rights battle at the heart of “The Circle” is an unusual, underexposed one that merits either substantial documentary or riveting narrative treatment, so one can hardly blame practiced docu helmer Stefan Haupt for attempting to have it both ways. In telling the story of a shy young teacher and his drag-artist lover caught in the shifting social currents of 1950s Zurich, Haupt has chosen to stage proceedings mostly as handsomely mounted period drama, interspersed with present-day talking heads that include the now-septuagenarian protagonists themselves. The results, while never less than compelling, are predictably uneven: Affecting in themselves, the talking heads come to play as interruptions, holding the narrative back from deeper historical scrutiny. Still, its unconventional construction — and multiple Berlinale prizes — will make this an attractive option to LGBT-friendly fests and distribs.
Whatever their aesthetic limitations, the documentary interludes prevent “The Circle” from playing entirely as a period piece, which makes sense given the still-burning political currency of its subject matter. Would that its impressions of homosexual persecution and censorship in Europe half a century ago were more dated than recent events in Russia and Uganda make them seem.
The back-and-forth over Proposition 8 in California also comes to mind in a study of rights permitted before being retracted. In the wake of WWII, Switzerland was viewed as something of a safe haven for gay men, with no laws denying them sexual or social activity. Gay clubs flourished happily, notably the eponymous Circle, a “self-help organization” for gay intellectual and bohemian types, founded in 1942 by actor Karl Meier, that also published a multilingual, frequently provocative magazine. It’s at a Circle ball in the mid-1950s that naive literature teacher Ernst Ostertag (Matthias Hungerbuehler) becomes smitten with 18-year-old barber and moonlighting transvestite Robi Rapp (Sven Schelker), and the two fall swiftly into a profoundly affectionate relationship.
The present-day footage of the still-besotted Ernst and Robi — the film opens with the latter performing one of his signature drag numbers with creaky gusto — means the outcome of the film’s personal narrative is never in doubt. (Indeed, their romance dovetails nicely with a closing message celebrating the contemporary legalization of gay marriage.)
But there’s plenty of external tension elsewhere, as a spate of brutal murders within the gay community lead the authorities to an about-face on their once-liberal attitude to same-sex behavior. When the Circle’s income-generating socials are declared illegal in 1960, with the police placing increasing pressure on its leaders to reveal the personal details of all members, the organization becomes impossible to maintain. Surprisingly, it’s the formerly cautious Ernst who persists with dangerous acts of activism against the will of the more domestically inclined Robi. Their romance is sweetly articulated by the subjects and actors alike, but is most gripping as a catalyst for Ernst’s own self-acceptance and political awakening.
Even when the stakes are at their highest, there’s a gentle tone to the dramatic proceedings that is unexpected but not unwelcome — Haupt’s emphasis throughout is on the benevolent, supportive virtues of the gay community, even at its most threatened and compromised. (Though Ernst’s coming-out process was a long-term one, there’s refreshingly little angst in this department; Marianne Sagrebrecht is delightful as Robi’s sage, thoroughly accepting mother.) That prevailing tenderness is also suggested by Tobias Dengler’s softly burnished lensing and Federico Bettini’s pretty, mildly over-sugared score.
The opportunity for harder tonal contrast provided by the film’s documentary portions, however, go largely untaken: The testimonies of the elderly lovers are touching, but don’t reveal many circumstantial details or emotional nuances beyond those played by the capable, appealing leads. Other, more academic talking heads add little; at a tidy 100 minutes, the film’s portrayal of the Circle’s complex, intriguing social network could easily have been fleshed out at their expense.
Zurich, 1958. The young teacher Ernst Ostertag falls head over heels in love with the transvestite star Robi Rapp and finds himself torn between his bourgeois existence and his commitment to homosexuality. Ernst becomes a member of the gay organization DER KREIS and lives through the high point and the eventual decline of the organization, which in the whole of Europe is seen as the pioneer of gay emancipation.
Also known as:Le cercle (France), Der Kreis: ‘A kör’a (Hungary), W kregu (Poland), Krug (Serbia), The Circle (USA – alternative title), The Circle (Europe – English title, Berlin film festival title), The Circle (World-wide – English title),