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2016/17 | 98 min.
My Wonderful West Berlin

By Wieland Speck

My Wonderful West Berlin

Director: Jochen Hick | Germany, 2016/17 | 98 minutes | Color, black & white
Laguages: German with German, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew subtitles
World distributor: Galeria Alaska Productions
Availabe at: Goethe-Institut

MY WONDERFUL WEST BERLIN, the second part of Jochen Hick’s East-West trilogy, was a surprise hit in the summer of 2018 and sparked the interest of international audiences, too. The first part of the series focused on East Berlin (see below) while the third part looks at the whole of Berlin and is currently in production. As one of the protagonists, I presented the film several times, for example 2018 in Bucharest during the opening of Pride Week, with the support of the Federal Foreign Office. A large and interested audience engaged in an hour-long discussion. The film does that, especially in places that have a certain affinity with Berlin. You’ll learn things you didn’t know about the beginnings of the gay movement in Germany: the HAW (Homosexuelle Aktion Westberlin), the infighting, the establishment of a community, the arrival of the AIDS epidemic that took so many lives – right up to the fall of the Wall.
Jochen Hick, who in 1989 directed the first German feature film on AIDS, Via Appia, is something of a chronicler of the gay movement in Germany and Eastern Europe. With Andreas Strohfeldt, he co-directed the essential documentary “Out in East Berlin” on the situation of gays and lesbians in the workers’ and peasants’ state, where homosexuality was decriminalized in 1968, much earlier than in the Federal Republic, though this by no means led to equal rights. In 1973, three days after the broadcast of Rosa von Praunheim’s It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives on forbidden West German television, the HIB (Homosexuelle Interessengemeinschaft Berlin) was founded in East Berlin. Thirteen contemporary witnesses narrate private and political developments from church to state security that eventually led to opposition to the regime.
“Dream Boat” by Tristan Ferland Milewski deals with virtual reality, though not in the sense of a bespectacled 3D panorama. It’s about the creation of a majority society for a minority group by limiting space. On a cruise ship for gays, the shelter is finally perfect and the alarm sensor, which otherwise warns against ostracism and assault in everyday life, can be switched off. No look – wherever it may fall – will be “misunderstood” and entail danger. This is, of course, terrible mass tourism. But in this women-less world, while cruising life rages in the hallways, inside the cabins it’s all about the problems with the world out on the mainland. A deep insight ...
Everybody knows drag queens but only few of us are familiar with their lives 24/7. In “Surviving in Neukölln,” Rosa von Praunheim in his uniquely intimate way of exposing the private as the political introduces a group of unadjusted residents of the queer part of the Berlin district of Neukölln. The main focus is on gallery owner Juwelia. The film contains a cornucopia of lifestyles and shows why life outside urban spaces may in fact be possible – but why? (All four recommended titles under this heading are documentaries.)