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Mein wunderbares WestBerlin

West Berlin as a gay place of yearning, a place of refuge, an island, and a tourist magnet. A very personal, moving chronology of gay Berlin history from the police raids under paragraph 175, which declared homosexuality to be illegal, to the AIDS ...

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An overflow of archival images right at the start: West Berlin as a gay place of yearning, a place of refuge, an island, and a tourist magnet. It seems like this might be leading to something grossly nostalgic, but things are different in Jochen Hick’s newest gay history film, as it is willfully personal, talking about “his” West Berlin while giving a big and very moving chronology of gay men before, during, and after the era of the first movement.

His talking heads consist of friends, activists, make-up artists, fashion designers, promoters, publishers, filmmakers, and other celebrities. We leave the first gay German commune with Panorama head Wieland Speck, get drunk with Udo Walz in the Paris Bar, and find out from Romy Haag that a transwoman could only find a job in the nightlife scene in the 70s.

The film makes a big jump from the police raids under paragraph 175, which made homosexuality illegal, to the AIDS crisis. It’s delightful to see and hear Hick’s enigmatic protagonists as they talk about the good and hard times in West Berlin in a very open way, often without pretention and romanticism. It surely has to do with the connection they have with the filmmaker, who talks to them at eye level. The very intimate insights into their private life never come across as being put on display. Hick wanted to avoid sentimentalism and made a big portion of contemporary history feel alive in a very touching way.

Toby Ashraf

Translation: Elinor Lewy

Credits

Original title: Mein wunderbares WestBerlin
Deutschland 2017, 97 min
Genre: Documentary
Director: Jochen Hick
Author: Jochen Hick
DOP: Jochen Hick, Alexander Gheorghiu
Montage: Thomas Keller
Distributor: Edition Salzgeber
FSK: 16
Release: 29.06.2017

Website
IMDB

Screenings

Screenings

  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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