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The Circle/Der Kreis - [Trailer]

Zurich, 1958. The young teacher Ernst Ostertag 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. Ernst becomes a member of the gay organization DER KREIS and lives through the high point and the eventual decline of the organization, which in the whole of Europe is seen as the pioneer of gay emancipation.

New film The Circle tells story of the Swiss gay group that survived the Nazis

The Circle is a new film that dramatically recreates the lives of two gay men who met through a gay group in Switzerland in 1958 and have been a couple ever since

A new documentary is finally telling the story of a Swiss gay group that survived through World War II and a couple who met through the group after the war in 1958.

The Circle (Der Kreis) was a gay magazine that began publishing in neutral Switzerland in 1932 under the name Swiss Friendship Banner and under the name The Circle from 1942.

While gay men in other parts of Europe were being persecuted or forced into hiding during World War II, homosexuality was decriminalized in Switzerland in 1942 and in the cantons of Geneva, Ticino, Vaud and Valais, since 1798 in accordance with the Napoleonic Code.

This allowed a vibrant gay subculture to emerge in Switzerland in the 40’s and 50’s.

As a result The Circle could be published openly and by 1957 the publication had a bimonthly circulation of nearly 2,000 with 700 subscribers, and sections in German, French and English for an international readership.

A social group also grew around the publication and that’s how Ernst Ostertag and Robi Rapp, the film’s subjects, met in 1958.

However a spate of brutal murders inside the gay community in Switzerland drew the unwanted attention of the authorities and the group’s income generating socials were banned in 1960 beginning its eventual decline.

The magazine published its last issue in 1967 but it had long outlived other gay publications in Europe that did not survive the Nazis.

The film contains interviews with Ernst and Robi and also uses actors to recreate their stories about the era.

The film won the Teddy Award for best documentary with LGBTI themes at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival and will be released later this year.

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