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Part love story, part thriller, and all astonishingly true,
The Circle weaves a gorgeous 1950s period drama around a documentary to reveal the story of Zürich’s groundbreaking gay magazine Der Kreis—and its network of readers, friends, and lovers, who formed one of the first modern homophile societies.In the years following World War II, a small band of Swiss writers dared to publish their bimonthly magazine Der Kreis (The Circle),
smuggling it into countries throughout Europe. It provided subscribers
with news and erotica (in German, French, and English), “artistic”
physique pictorials, and—perhaps most importantly—a sense of community.
The magazine’s sumptuous galas helped give Zürich a reputation as the
gay capital of Europe. At one of these balls, in 1958, closeted
schoolteacher Ernst Ostertag meets local drag celebrity Röbi Rapp—who is
very much out of the closet (his loving mother sews his gowns for him).
This encounter is the beginning of a love affair that endures today: in
2007, Ostertag and Rapp became Switzerland’s first same-sex civil
partners. The film follows their relationship and the challenges faced
by the controversial magazine after a gay prostitute murders a prominent
client, igniting press hysteria and police crackdowns that threaten to
end Zürich’s era of freedom.
Docu-drama has rarely worked so
effectively, as director Stefan Haupt seamlessly combines his handsome
period scenes (and cast) with the moving testimonies of the people who
lived them. Just when you think
The Circle might be exaggerating its re-created history for narrative effect, a documentary scene confirms it’s the real deal. The Circle shines a light into a fascinating but nearly forgotten corner of gay history and makes it glow.In Swiss, German with English subtitles.
This educational copy includes Public Performance Rights. For the Home Video version of this film, or inquire about rentals, please visit Wolfe Video