Westler - Goethe-Institut USA

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1985 | 95 min.

By Wieland Speck


Director: Wieland Speck | Germany 1985 | 95 minutes | Color
Languages: German with English, French, Polish, and Dutch subtitles
Rental formats: DCP
World distributor: Speckfilm

A gay film whose main problem is not homosexuality was rare until 1985. WESTLER by Wieland Speck was originally conceived as an escape movie. The fact that, at the beginning of the 1980s, a West Berlin gay felt more at home in Los Angeles than in East Berlin may now seem odd but did not surprise back then. The love story between two Berliners from both sides of the Wall offered unprecedented insight into the Eastern part of the city, where it was shot with a hidden camera.
Four years later, what could be seen as its counterpart was created: “Coming Out” by Heiner Carow. The first GDR film ever on the topic of homosexuality, it was shot in the GDR but the Wall fell during its premiere in East Berlin’s Kino International. This love story of a teacher who learns to stand by his true self against all conventions is full of everyday images and situations of the country’s final stage – which, as Carow and I agreed, also came to confirm the authenticity of Westler from an East German perspective. The twin films can be presented as a double feature.
By contrast, in “Seduction: The Cruel Woman” the gaze turns inwards, as Elfi Mikesch and Monika Treut explore the hidden desires and longings of women and men who move beyond the binary division of the world. This film jolted West Germany’s lesbian scene and still inspires today as it questions the connections between sex and power.

The lesbian community had to wait a long time for media attention that was not bad news. The 1995 broadcast of the TV film Kommt Mausi raus?, based on a screenplay by Angelina Maccarone and directed by Alexander Scherer, was a turning point and helped an entire generation come out. The film still enjoys cult status today. Similarly, the TV series Lindenstraße by Hans W. Geißendörfer sealed its cult status in the community with a first gay kiss in 1987.


With his film recommendations (in UPPERCASE) Wieland Speck traces central themes of social development in Germany. The recommendations are accompanied by additional proposals (in "quotes").