“The Circle – Der Kreis” (Haupt,2014) – a Swiss docu-drama directed by Stefan Haupt was set in Zurich during the time of the late-1950s to early-1960s. The movie’s title, “The Circle”, was taken from the name of the first gay rights organization during the Nazi period in Europe. It documented the rise, the downfall and the eventual collapse of this organization; alongside this historical setting of the movie, tells a heart-touching, real life love story of an ex-teacher, Ernst Ostertag and a transvestite star, Röbi Rapp.
Homosexuality, has long been a sensitive and controversial topic. While North Americans nowadays have become far too familiar with the stories of fighting for gay rights and marriage equality, “The Circle” takes viewers back to a world where homosexuality was hardly legal, and was not completely acceptable.. Switzerland, having decriminalized same-sex relationships since 1942 (Rodgers et. al,2014), had become an attractive country for a lot of the gays. That being said however, due to geographical and cultural reasons, the country has always been in close association with its neighboring country, Germany. Therefore, the country during that time was still more or less under the influence of World War II, where discrimination were strengthened under the Nazi regime.
Homosexuality & Social Acceptance
If homosexuality was legal in the country, then what was the purpose of this underground community? Looking back at before 1973, homosexuality was actually considered a form of mental illness globally (TreeHugger,2011). With that in mind, this particular social group were then subjected to social discrimination. In the movie, Ostertag came from an upper class family. In a position of superiority means to uphold their reputations within the society. This is shown in the movie when Ostertag had to hide his sexual orientation not only from his friends, but also his family, and especially at the girls’ school that he taught at. The only time he felt truly himself, was after he took part in “The Circle”, where he met others of “his kind”. In contrary, Rapp who came from a lower middle class, was lucky enough to have his family’s support.
Lack of Sexual & Racial Diversification
Unlike other movies, there is no apparent white privilege shown in this movie – even the “whites” could not escape the fate of social discrimination (due to society’s inability to accept homosexuality). However, this point can be argued that there seems to lack racial diversity in the first place. Revisiting the point mentioned earlier, the movie is set in a post-war period and still under the influence of Germany’s regime. As a result, diversity was not exactly the most favorable topic at the time.
While it is understandable that the movie focuses on male homosexuality which might have an impact on the lack of female characters in the movie however, one cannot simply finish watching this movie without wondering: how about female homosexuality? In the society where women were from in the 1950s, their roles were to be a “perfect mother, obedient wives and clever homemakers” (RoobixCoob,2005) but being gay was, unfortunately, not one of them. Although homosexuality could very much be an issue for women back then, they seemed to have a much bigger issue to focus on: to fight for gender equality. The movie demonstrates how much men struggled to fight for their sexuality without the burden of their gender status in the society, one can imagine how much harder it could have been for women in addition to the gender inequality within the society. As a result, it is not surprising that the movie has chosen to put more focus on male, particularly those within the gay community.
The Reelout Film Festival, where the movie was shown, was no fancy movie theatre; however, it provided a friendly and cozy environment for the viewers to enjoy the movie, despite a couple machinery malfunctioning. There were a lot of young viewers in the audience, but a few gay couples were spotted in the crowd. They were particularly engaged to the movie; at times, they even applaud when some of the scenes really hit home for them. This has to do with the fact that the screenwriter cleverly employed a story-telling methodology; with real Rapp and Ostertag narrating, it added a dramatic effect to the movie because it allows the narrators to tell the story from their own experiences and that played an important role in captivating viewers’ interests. Walking away from the Reelout Film Festival, had definitely left me a lot to think about.
 Der Kreis, The Circle. Dir. Stefan Haupt. 2014. Film.
 Rodgers, Lucy, Pablo G. Martin, Martyn Rees, and Steven Connor. “Where Is It Illegal to Be Gay?” BBC News. N.p., 10 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.
 RoobixCoob. “A Woman’s Role in the 1950s.” Associatedcontent from Yahoo (2005): n. pag. Print.
 TreeHugger CA. “When Homosexuality Was Mental Illness.” Web log post.When Homosexuality Was Mental Illness. Daily Kos, 26 Apr. 2011. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.