Wednesday, 14 February
DEFA series: Coming Out
COMING OUT 1989. Directed by Heiner Carow. 113 minutes. In German with English subtitles.
This progressive flick came out towards the end of East Germany, and did its part to help push things over the edge and collapse the Berlin Wall. If you look at the film superficially, then you can say it is about gay rights, but in fact it can also be seen in a more timeless way. The story will resonate with anyone who needs to 'come out' about anything that doesn't fit the popular norm. That's the problem with popular norms, they exclude those who don't fit into the template and throws them off as outcasts.
Homosexuality wasn't illegal under communism in East Germany, as it was for example in Scotland until 1981. And being gay wasn't persecuted as it was in parts of America at the time. In the East Bloc, the topic was simply unacknowledged, it was ignored. This film is not an overly dramatic tragedy - as Hollywood would have done it - but rather a great document of the sub-cultural queer scene in the GDR at the time. It's the story of a struggle by a teacher who has to come to grips with his own identity. Alongside the central plot we also get a glimpse of a very different world - high school students writing essays on Bertolt Brecht, a society free from advertisements and marketing. We see the modern theatre that existed there. The film also 'documents' the gay clubs of the time, and the avant-garde electronic music played there. Many of the extras were not actors, but simply transvestites who hung out in the back-street gay scene. This movie has none of the commercial trappings of modern cinema, and is more honest than many similar-themed films here in the West.
As one critic put it: "The film makes a point of showing the many sides of gay life in East Germany, from the old to the young, both happy and sad... After all these years, Coming Out still holds up as one of the most moving and honest films on gay love. This is because Heiner Carow understood the most fundamental point: all relationships, whether gay or straight, are, first and foremost, human relationships."
This will be a high-definition screening.
Date & Time: