Queer as German Folk: Kino-Q

Kino-Q © Chezweitz, Goethe-Institut New York © Chezweitz, Goethe-Institut New York

Films Celebrating 100 Years of Transatlantic Rainbow Friendship On Screen

This event is part of the Goethe-Institut New York's "Queer as German Folk" series, with which we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots as a milestone in the fight for gender diversity and equality.

"Queer as German Folk" is a project of the Goethe-Instituts North America in cooperation with the Schwules Museum Berlin, and the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung).

Realized in cooperation with The DC Center for the LGBT Community, The Rainbow History Project, and Whitman-Walker Health.

#queerasgermanfolk #qagf #stonewall50 #smu #bpb

Although Queer As German Folk officially celebrates 50 years of transatlantic rainbow friendship – citing the June 1969 Stonewall Inn Uprising as a major turning point in the ongoing movement for worldwide queer rights – the history of queer representation in cinema goes back even further. From 1919 to the present, queer cinema in Germany and North America has evolved drastically, responding to shifts in focuses of queer rights, calls for intersectionality, cultural trends, and global health crises. A film series that pairs screenings of culturally- and historically-significant works of queer cinema from Germany, the United States, Canada, and Mexico with expert-led discussions and panels, Kino-Q aims to guide guests through queer representation onscreen since the inception of the silent film era.

In 1919, German sexologist, physician, and activist Magnus Hirschfeld co-wrote and appeared in Different from the Others (Anders als die Andern). Directed by Richard Oswald and starring a young Conrad Veidt, who went on to become one of the most prolific and legendary German actors in film history, the film specifically addresses gay rights law reform and the abolition of Paragraph 175 – a law left over from the Prussian German Empire that outlawed homosexual relationships between men. Portraying the devastating effect that the criminalization of homosexuality had on Germany’s queer population, Different from the Others was one of the first films with a gay protagonist, explicitly addressing the harmfulness of punishing queerness and treating it as an abomination.

Since Different from the Others, queerness in cinema has been explored throughout the last century in every film genre imaginable, and a multitude of languages. Rosa von Praunheim’s 1999 film Einstein of Sex (Der Einstein des Sex) revisits Hirschfeld’s work, this time in a period piece with Hirschfeld himself portrayed as the film’s central figure.

In 1979 West Germany, punk and avant-garde reigned supreme in the lawless land of West Berlin; in contrast to the strict societal rules under which Hirschfeld and his contemporaries existed, lesbian filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger explores this suspension of societal norms in Ticket of No Return (Bildnis einer Trinkerin) – which follows a glamorous French woman who goes on a nihilistic multi-week bender among the bizarre landscape of West Berlin.

As the format of the documentary film emerged throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, this medium was used to chronicle activism on a grassroots and national level, especially in response to the attention turned to transgender rights, gentrification in queer neighborhoods, mobilization of queer people of color, and the AIDS epidemic. Documentaries like Monika Treut’s Gendernauts: A Journey Through Shifting Identities (1999) and Rosa von Praunheim‘s The AIDS Trilogy (Die AIDS-Trilogie) (1990) dive into the social justice and human rights struggles that persist today.

This film series is part of the Goethe-Institut North America’s Queer As German Folk programming, a regional exhibition and event series tied with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn Uprising, which seeks to revisit many facets of the intersectional queer rights movement in the past and present alike.

Check back on this page regularly for further listings of films from Germany, the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Presented in cooperation with:
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Landmark Cinemas, Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Centre, Whitman-Walker Health, the Mexican Cultural Institute, DC Shorts Film Festival, Reel Affirmations Film Festival, The Embassy of Canada to the United States, The Rainbow History Project, and The DC Center for the LGBT Community.