Winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes, director Sebastian Meise’s searing prison drama is a captivating chronicle of a dark past in Germany’s queer history.
In post-war Germany, Hans (a remarkable performance from Franz Rogowski) finds himself repeatedly incarcerated in a high-security prison. With Paragraph 175 outlawing homosexual ‘deviant practices’, Hans is continually forced to pay a heavy price for his desire to live an authentic life. As the decades roll by, Hans finds a succession of lovers during his stints behind bars, but one constant emerges in his fractured existence – his friendship with cell mate Viktor (Georg Friedrich). Serving a life sentence for murder, Viktor’s initial hostility and revulsion towards Hans slowly begins to thaw, and over time the unlikely pair develop an intense and romantic bond.
Set across three decades, this film offers a powerful reflection on the historical injustice and the persecution of gay men through a law that was only repealed in 1994. It is a hard-hitting, often uncompromising piece of work, yet beneath its tough exterior lies a deeply unsentimental, disarmingly tender love story that is impossible to forget.
Presented in partnership with Watershed