Filmmaker and gay-rights activist Rosa von Praunheim is one of the leading figures in gay and lesbian cinema and New German Cinema, although his deliberately controversial techniques, designed to challenge audiences, have sometimes caused him to be criticized by both gay and anti-gay supporters. Praunheim originally studied painting in Berlin and from there was an assistant for such gay filmmakers as Werner Schroeter and Gregory J. Markopoulous. As a director, he made many underground short films on Super-8 or 16 mm stock before going to work in television where he became known for such genre parodies as Die Bettwurst/The Bedroll (1970).
Von Praunheim made his first gay-themed film, Sisters of the Revolution, in 1969. The film was a three-part look at homosexual participation in the early women’s liberation movement taking place in New York. One of his most influential films was 1970’s made-for-TV outing. It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverted, But the Situation in Which He Lives, another example of his usage of negative gay stereotypes to politicize their plight and plea for more rights. Not all of von Praunheim’s films focus on homosexuality; some deal with those living on the fringes of society. – Sandra Brennan
SATURDAY, September 26, 7:30pm
IT’S NOT THE HOMOSEXUAL WHO IS PERVERSE, BUT THE SITUATION IN WHICH HE LIVES 1970, 67 minutes, video.
Rosa von Praunheim present for a discussion following the screening with Ger Zielinski. The screening will be introduced by Stephen Kent Jusick, the Executive Director of MIX NYC.
In German with English subtitles. A radically critical denunciation of homosexuals who are content to fit into a gay stereotype of social superficiality and political passivity in the face of blatant discrimination, this film caused a furor in Germany. It also led to the foundation of the modern German gay liberation movement. The appearance of this film was crucial to the founding of the new German gay movement. Over 50 political gay groups sprang up in the wake of his film’s showing in the cities and towns of Germany.
Ger Zielinski, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where he is working on 1970s and 80s NYC queer minor cinemas and their scenes. He also spends months of the year as a researcher in the Institut für Europäische Ethnologie at Humboldt Universität in Berlin. He was an experimental film curator with the nomadic Pleasure Dome in Toronto for many years and continues to program independently.
SUNDAY, September 27, 7:30pm
TWO MOTHERS 2007, 87 minutes, video. In English, German, and Russian with English subtitles.
Rosa von Praunheim present for a discussion following the screening with Ingrid Scheib-Rothbart. The screening will be introduced by Hector Canonge, Director of CINEMAROSA.
Raised as Holger Mischwitzky before he adopted his stage name, Rosa von Praunheim, the prominent German filmmaker turns the camera on himself in this documentary about the search for his birth parents. At the age of 95, von Praunheim’s beloved mother, Gertrud, revealed that she had adopted him from a children’s home in Riga, Latvia. After her death, with only that snippet of information to go on, von Praunheim and a team of dedicated researchers seek out what information they can about his origins. Von Praunheim must enlist the aid of scholars and historians in Germany and Latvia to narrow down the possibilities-is he Jewish? Illegitimate? A product of Aryan science?-from the paper trail that remains from 1942, the year he was born. Thanks to a bit of luck, he is able to tease out clues about his birth mother, but with each revelation comes a new set of mysteries and possible scenarios. Was it romance or tragedy that brought him into the world?
Von Praunheim’s exploration is not just a whodunit, but also a fascinating chronicle of the people, places, and ideology of a period: a time when 26,000 people could be exterminated in two days, as the Jews in Latvia were in 1941, and when it was considered completely sensible to be married in an SS uniform. Two Mothers is also a loving tribute to the mother who raised him, the one who remembers the moment she first spotted him. “It was love at first sight for the both of us.” — David Kwok, Tribeca Film Festival
Ingrid Scheib-Rothbart is the Film Programmer for The Fassbinder Foundation, Inc., and German Film Officer. She is also a board member for The New York Film/Video Council and the former Film Program Coordinator at Goethe-Institut New York.