Jochen Hick | Germany | 2017 | 1:37:00
German with English Subtitles
Today’s hip image of Berlin is based on the city’s vibrant and subversive subcultures, which originally emerged within the grey walls surrounding West Berlin. The queer scene played a major role in creating that subculture, with its sexual diversity and its wild and unconstrained party culture, ranging from the notorious clubs to CSD. Many of the scene’s actors, such as the Gay Museum, the Teddy Award, AIDS help organizations, and the queer magazine Siegessäule originated before 1989.
Yet gays in West Berlin suffered greatly under an incongruous provision in German law – the infamous ‘Paragraph 175’ – that made homosexual acts between men a crime up until its reform in 1969. Raids and arrests in bars were common, yet ultimately failed in suppressing gay life in West Berlin. Instead, the city turned into a gay capital. The late seventies, in particular, were a period of great sexual and political freedoms and more intense social intermingling between the gay-, hetero-, and transsexual worlds. Then AIDS struck, wreaking greater havoc in Berlin than in any other German city.
After OUT IN EAST BERLIN (2013, co-dir. by A. Strohfeldt), MY WONDERFUL WEST BERLIN describes gay life in the western half of the city in the dynamic period between the end of WWII and the fall of the Berlin Wall, all the while referencing current social issues. The stories and experiences of political activists, party-goers, hedonists, club owners, musicians, fashion designers, a DJ, and a make-up artist paint a vivid picture of the gay scene in that period. The use of never before seen archival film footage completes the picture by allowing viewers to travel through time to a hitherto unknown West Berlin.
MY WONDERFUL WEST BERLIN explores the historical roots of the fascinating city, that is a dream destination and a place of refuge for gay men from across the world to this day. The film is the second part of filmmaker Jochen Hick’s Berlin trilogy, the final part of which will focus on the period after the fall of the Wall, up until today.