Part documentary, part narrative feature film, The Circle is a moving tribute to a life-long relationship that overcame intense obstacles and an insightful look at an important chapter in gay history.
Winner of the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlin Film Festival, The Circle tells the true story of Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, a schoolteacher and a drag entertainer, who met through their participation in a social network of gay men that developed in Zurich in the 1940s and 1950s. The two began romantic relationship. Interviews with them and other survivors and experts on the era are interspersed with documentary film and photographs as well as a scripted dramatic enactment of the story.
Founded in the early ’40s, the network around the magazine ‘Der Kreis’ (‘The Circle’) was the only gay organisation to survive the Nazi regime. It blossomed during the post-war years into an internationally renowned underground club.
Legendary masked balls at the Theater am Neumarkt in Zurich provided visitors from all over Europe with a secret and safe space to act out their ‘otherness’ in a self-determined way. It is there that timid teacher Ostertag falls in love with drag star Rapp. Ernst searches for a way to fight for his gayness to be accepted as normal outside the boundaries of ‘The Circle’ network without losing his employment as a teacher. Röbi champions the joint fruition of their love.
Following a murder in the gay community, violent repression against gay people also endangers ‘The Circle’ network. Stefan Haupt’s riveting film uncovers the fascinating universe of one of the first gay liberation communities. Enriched by impressive conversational records with Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, the film depicts a decades-long love story – made taboo by society – and reveals the couple’s inspiring self-knowledge and courage.
At her debaucherous 40th birthday party, serial relationship-killer Jackie meets handsome and charming thirty-something River-the perfect guy, who happens to be gay. Their ensuing adventures in self-medication, late-blooming, and questionable judgment lead them to discover a raucous new breed of primary relationship. Stream both seasons of ‘The Benefits of Gusbandry’ now on Dekkoo!
A married, Orthodox, Jerusalem butcher and Jewish father of four falls in love with his handsome, 22-year-old male apprentice, triggering the suspicions of his wife and the disapproval of his Orthodox community. Stream ‘Eyes Wide Open’ now on Dekkoo!
Coming next week: A coming-of-age sports movie meets a tale of cyber-bullying,and sexuality. –The Hollywood Reporter
A beloved American icon who left us way too soon, it’s hard to watch just about any Robin Williams performance without feeling some sense of loss and sadness. His performance in the melancholy drama Boulevard, one of his last, adds even another layer.
Directed by Dito Montiel from a script by Douglas Soesbe, the film follows Nolan Mack (Williams), a middle-aged man who has worked at the same bank for almost three decades in a life of monotony. He and his wife Joy (Kathy Baker) have embraced their marriage as a convenient and comfortable distraction from facing reality. However one day, what starts as an aimless drive down an unfamiliar street turns into a life-altering decision for Nolan when he meets a troubled young hustler named Leo (Roberto Aguire) on his drive home from visiting his ailing father at a hospital.
Nolan begins to seek Leo out and spend time with him. The relationship is never consummated, but they spend hours talking. As Nolan spends more time with Leo, he finds himself breaking from the confines of his old life and coming to terms with who he really is: a gay man stuck in the closet. The more he awakens to his true self, the stranger he appears to his friends and loves ones – especially his wife. An unavoidable confrontation – one that should have been had ages ago – starts to brew.
Co-starring Bob Odenkirk and Giles Matthey, Boulevard takes an unflinching look at the difficulties of coming out late in life and features a deeply vulnerable performance from Williams worth cherishing. The film also comes from a place of honesty. Screenwriter Douglas Soesbe underwent a similar coming out experience, telling Creative Screenwriting, “I came out very late and with a great deal of guilt. This movie is not about me, but I really understand that character.”
Javi, a young man from East Los Angeles, is being harassed by his homophobic neighbor. As tensions escalate, he must decide whether to confront his tormentor or turn the other cheek. ‘Pitbull’ is available now on Dekkoo!
A young teacher Ernst falls head over heels in love with the transvestite star Robi Rapp and finds himself torn between his bourgeois existence and his commitment to homosexuality. ‘The Circle’ is now streaming on Dekkoo!
Coming next week: One woman, one man, a lot of weed, a little crying and absolutely NO sexual attraction whatsoever.
HIV is the shadow that seems to lurk behind all gay men. Due to poor sex education in schools that all but ignore homosexual safe-sex practices, a lack of openness with parents in talking about sex to their queer youths, and other various reasons, HIV continues to be prevalent among gay men. According to a study the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ran in 2017, 66% of people with HIV obtained it from male-to-male sexual contact. For the younger generations who didn’t experience the onset of the AIDS epidemic firsthand, there’s often an attitude of “that couldn’t happen to me.” That is, until there’s a scare, and they end up in a doctor’s office waiting for the results of their antibody test.
This is the very scenario shown in Writhing, a beautiful short film that mixes contemporary dance and ethereal narrative to convey the agonizing feeling after your finger is pricked. Director and writer, Robert John Torres, has created a stunning and meaningful work of art that perfectly encapsulates the experience many gay men know all too well. The beauty of this film lies in the contrast between Everett (the main character) as he goes in to get the HIV test and the Red Man that twists and writhes in haunting shots that evoke feelings of pain and turmoil.
It seems that Torres’ concept of sporadic contemporary dance symbolizes both the gut-churning anticipation of waiting to find out your HIV status and the disease itself. The Red Man is painted head to toe in red and adorned with leather restraints including a mask, juxtaposing HIV and all of the stigma, fear, and tolls it takes on its bearer with the physical act of dancing.
For the majority of the short film, we see the dancer in a bed as Everett has quiet moments of fearful contemplation. The Red Man appears more and more as the film continues, the climax of his role appearing when Everett is sharing his fears with the counselor administering the test. It’s at this point when the Red Man is showcased in a strobing double-exposure where he looks as if he’s being tortured. It isn’t until the counselor gives Everett some kind words of support that the red figure is seen outside, dancing with more grace than we’ve previously seen and breaking free from his symbolic ties to the bed.
This short film is a mesmerizing foray into one man’s journey that dips in and out of reality, and we couldn’t recommend it more. You can view Writhing right here on Dekkoo, available for streaming now.
In 1969 police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, leading to three nights of rioting by the city’s gay community. With this outpouring of courage and unity the Gay Liberation Movement had begun. June 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of these riots. In honor of that historical moment we present this emotionally potent documentary about how LGBTQ people became a vibrant and integral part of America’s family, and, indeed, the world community. Watch ‘After Stonewall’ now on Dekkoo!
Scott, a mild-mannered gay writer in Los Angeles, gets wrapped up into a world of bad boys and their crime-filled past after being adopted as their “Daddy Scott”, whether he likes it or not. ‘Bad Boy’ is streaming now on Dekkoo!
Kai and Tobi share one last night together, remembering a beautiful weekend they once had away from the oppression of Tobi’s homophobic mother – before the light of the world has been put out in this beautiful, romantic and heartbreaking end times drama. Stream ‘1 Last Chance at Paradise’ now on Dekkoo!
Coming next week: Robin Williams stars in one of his final performances.
For Dekkoo viewers who have not yet watched Single Record, watch out! There are some minor spoilers ahead.
Single Record is a six-episode documentary-style series that follows an up-and-coming rapper named Aaron Hunter as he navigates the rocky road of the New York music industry. Along with a killer soundtrack, the show’s cast puts on a spectacularly engaging performance that will keep viewers engrossed as they watch Aaron teeter between the brink of stardom and tragedy.
Watching Single Record was refreshing for many reasons. For one, this great show features a nearly all-black cast. This is monumental for queer kids of color who don’t often get to see people who look like them on the screen. It’s no secret that when it comes to queer film and TV, there’s usually a focus on thin, white gays or twinks. But the queer community is so much more diverse than that, and Single Record is a great reminder of the importance of representation.
The other reason Single Record stood out for me was its approach to its queer content. The mainstream media has only recently given queer people room to strut their stuff, but their roles in these stories can sometimes come off as forced or cliché. Often, we see queer people playing the token gay best friend or forced into a role where it seems as if the writers all gathered together and said, “You know what would be fun? A gay person!” While roles like these are still important and no doubt make a difference in the fight for representation, they can feel a bit contrived. When this happens, we are given some pretty flat characters that seem less like real people and more like stereotypes. What these characters often lack is an authenticity that seems reserved only for the straight characters. Why is that? Because the straight characters aren’t being constrained to a pre-conceptualized storyline determined by their sexuality.
Just like straight people, queer individuals are multifaceted and have a lot more to them than just being queer. But when it comes to roles in mainstream media, it seems like the only screen time queer people get feature the same old story arcs over and over again to the point where it all feels recycled. Single Record, however, is a great antithesis to this vicious circle of tired tropes. In the show, we are first introduced to Aaron as the talented rapper that he is. His queerness doesn’t even come into play until the second episode when he and Harmon share a kiss late night at the studio. And even long after that kiss, the show doesn’t rely on Aaron’s sexuality. Rather, it allows a queer character to navigate the ups and downs of his life as any normal person would.