FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: August 7, 1997

Contact: Margot Gerber

 

Tel.: 213/466-FILM ext. 115

 

GERMAN FILMMAKER ROSA VON PRAUNHEIM TO APPEAR IN-PERSON

FOR AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE RETROSPECTIVE OF

HIS CONTROVERSIAL WORK DEPICTING GAY LIFE OVER THREE DECADES

 

Featuring "55 Years of Perversity," von Praunheim’s Live Stage Show

 

Weekends September 4 – 20, 1997

 

Presented in association with the Goethe-Institut – German Cultural Center and the German Film Export Union.

In cooperation with Outfest

 

HOLLYWOOD – The American Cinematheque presents HOMOSEXUAL REVOLUTION: A TRIBUTE TO ROSA VON PRAUNHEIM IN-PERSON, a three-weekend retrospective of the work of one of the most outrageous, outspoken and influential German and gay filmmakers working today. The series, which runs Weekends, September 4 - 20, 1997, will kick off with the L.A. Premiere of von Praunheim’s newest film -- I’M IN LOVE WITH A TATTOOED COCK (1997), a look at why San Francisco is a "gay mecca" – and will span von Praunheim’s three decades of feature filmmaking to include his revolutionary first feature IT’S NOT THE HOMOSEXUAL WHO IS PERVERSE, BUT THE SITUATION IN WHICH HE IS FORCED TO LIVE (1971). Opening weekend will also feature von Praunheim’s special Live Stage Performance, "55 YEARS OF PERVERSITY." Other films included in the series are von Praunheim’s survey of the gay movement in America before AIDS, ARMY OF LOVERS (1972-79); the first and second parts of his acclaimed AIDS trilogy, SILENCE=DEATH and POSITIVE (1990); and his surprise 1992 art house hit, I AM MY OWN WOMAN. Von Praunheim is scheduled to speak following selected films during the first two weekends of the series. All screenings are at the Raleigh Studios Charlie Chaplin Theater. (5300 Melrose Avenue between Bronson & Van Ness) in Hollywood.

American Cinematheque

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard., 3rd Floor, Hollywood, CA 90028

(tel) 213.461.9737 u (fax) 213.461.9737

Now on the web!!! http://www.americancinematheque.com

Concurrent with the von Praunheim series, the Los Angeles Goethe-Institut – German Cultural Center will present an extensive exhibition entitled, "The Legacy of Magnus Hirschfeld: 100 Years of the Gay Movement in Germany." Please call (213) 525–3388 for more information about the exhibition.

Rosa von Praunheim was born in Riga, Latvia in 1942 as Holger Mischwitsky, but changed his name to "Rosa" during the sixties as a reference to the pink triangle ("rosa Winkel") the Nazi’s had emblazoned upon the clothing of homosexuals during WW II. Von Praunheim’s first short films in the late ‘60s were influenced stylistically by the work of such American underground filmmakers, as the Kuchar Brothers and Jack Smith. In 1970, von Praunheim made his first feature film, the controversial IT’S NOT THE HOMOSEXUAL WHO IS PERVERSE, BUT THE SITUATION IN WHICH HE IS FORCED TO LIVE. The film was openly denounced by both the Right and Left for its scathing portrait of the illusions and deceptions of gay culture. The controversy helped launch von Praunheim’s career as a filmmaker, and also led to the formation of over 50 gay rights organizations in East and West Germany.

As the gay rights movement moved forward, so did von Praunheim’s camera and activist nature. In the film, ARMY OF LOVERS or REVOLT OF THE PERVERTS (1972-79), he documents the growing U.S. gay rights struggle prior to AIDS. IN A VIRUS KNOWS NO MORALS (1985-86), he uses black comedy to fight AIDS which was single-handedly wiping out the gay community, commenting, "…for many it will not be understandable that disease and death are treated with humor." He continued with this AIDS theme in a trilogy of films beginning with SILENCE = DEATH (1990), POSITIVE (1990) and FIRE UNDER YOUR ASS (the latter which has never been translated into English).

In addition to the films focusing on gay life, he has made tender documents of vivacious women and candid biographies of the trans-gendered. Like John Waters who cast Divine in many of his films, von Praunheim worked frequently with Lotti Huber, a 79 year-old former cabaret star.

Of his work, von Praunheim has said, "I think that if my work survives, then I will be known for one thing: that I had the luck to document a piece of gay history with my films."

 

WEEKEND 1: September 4th, 5th & 6th

The Thursday, September 4th program is a Double Feature which begins at 7:15 PM with the L.A. Premiere of I’M IN LOVE WITH A TATTOOED COCK (1997, 56 min.) which von Praunheim deems, "a portrait of San Francisco which reflects that city’s progressive nature and shows why it is considered the ‘gay Mecca’…" The video was shot in the summer of 1996 and is intended to be part of a longer project with the working title 100 YEARS OF THE GAY MOVEMENT, a documentary which will chart the past, present and possible future of the ongoing political struggle for gay liberation. Here, von Praunheim follows the photographer and political activist Greg Day as he leads us through his personal history of the beautiful city. We meet many of his friends including the ‘militant, queer, drag queen Presidential candidate’ Joan Jett Blakk, the gay City Supervisor Tom Ammiano and the Kinsey Sicks. Next is TRANSEXUAL MENACE (1996, Video Data Bank, 78 min.) in which von Praunheim captures a frank group of transgenders at work and at home, discussing (and displaying) their physical transition, talking about the hostility they face, even from the gay community – and as one transsexual bluntly puts it, "as far as gay organizations go, we’re at the bottom." Discussion following 7:15 PM screening with Rosa von Praunheim.

The Friday, September 5th program begins at 7:15 PM with "55 YEARS OF PERVERSITY," a Special Live Stage Performance by Rosa Von Praunheim. Get ready for a shameless tour of a scandalous life as Rosa hits the stage in our theater at Raleigh Studios! He’ll sing, he’ll dance, and he’ll show off his collection of old condoms! Special Ticket Price for this one-time performance $15.00 General/$10.00 Members. Following at 9:30 PM is a Double Feature, beginning with, IT’S NOT THE HOMOSEXUAL WHO IS PERVERSE BUT THE SITUATION IN WHICH HE’S FORCED TO LIVE (1971, 70 min), von Praunheim’s controversial first feature film. In this merciless skewering of gay culture, Daniel, a shy boy from the country, hits Berlin and falls in love with smooth-talking stud Clemens – soon, though, one man isn’t enough for Daniel, and he dives into a temptation-filled world of bar hopping and toilet cruising. IT’S NOT THE HOMOSEXUAL takes every cliché of gay life and literally pisses in its face – the Revolution starts here. With Bernd Feuerhelm, Berryt Bohlen. Next on the same bill is ARMY OF LOVERS or REVOLT OF THE PERVERTS (1972-79, 107 min.), von Praunheim’s massive, kaleidoscopic survey of the gay movement in America before AIDS. There is something to offend everyone – from Anita Bryant cooing "You Are My Lucky Star" to Rosa himself teaching his film school class how to give a blowjob. Rosa von Praunheim scheduled to introduce the screenings.

The Saturday, September 6th screening begins at 7:15 PM with TALLY BROWN, N.Y. (1977, 100 min.), the first of Rosa’s wild, unpredictable portraits of aging dancers and cabaret stars. Here he follows the almost-legendary Tally Brown through the subterranean bowels of late 70’s New York. "Tally puts across a repertoire ranging from Robert Johnson to David Bowie to Kurt Weill with a canny mixture of parody, glitz and volcanic force … the best New York City documentary since Chantal Akerman’s NEWS FROM HOME." – J. Hoberman, Village Voice. Discussion following with Rosa von Praunheim. Following at 9:30 PM is a repeat screening of the Double Feature of IT’S NOT THE HOMOSEXUAL WHO IS PERVERSE, BUT THE SITUATION IN WHICH HE’S FORCED TO LIVE (1971, 70 min.) and ARMY OF LOVERS or REVOLT OF THE PERVERTS (1972-79, 107 min.). See Friday, September 5th for further information. Rosa von Praunheim is scheduled to introduce screenings.

 

WEEKEND 2: September 12th& 13th

The Friday, September 12th program begins at 7:15 PM with a screening of Von Praunheim’s most acclaimed film, I AM MY OWN WOMAN (1992, Cinevista, 91 min.). This film recreates the impossible life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf – a gentle, indestructible East German transvestite who survived a Nazi father (she killed him with a rolling pin), and the rise and fall of Communism. With Jens Taschner, Ichgola Androgyn. Following at 9:30 PM is a Double Feature beginning with ANITA, DANCES OF VICE (1986, First Run Features, 85 min.). "I’ll show you the most beautiful ass in Berlin!!" screams a deranged old woman, pulling her pants down on a crowded street – so begins von Praunheim’s amazing, low-budget fantasia inspired by the life of Anita Berber, a nude dancer who shocked 1920’s Berlin with her voracious bisexuality. John Waters had his Divine, von Sternberg had his Dietrich – here, Rosa found his perfect match in Lotti Huber, a fearless whirlwind who plays the aging Anita. Next on the same bill is AFFENGEIL – LIFE IS LIKE A CUCUMBER (1990, First Run Features, 87 min.), a chronicle of Rosa’s friendship with Lotti Huber and her wild life: from her career as a dancer in pre-Nazi Germany; to her imprisonment in a concentration camp designated for prostitutes and her eventual escape to Palestine and London before returning to Germany in the 1960’s. In this shameless "self-portrait" Huber steals a video camera so von Praunheim can videotape her life - ! von Praunheim appears as himself, playing the straight man to the cantankerous Lotti – he describes her as " a crazy old lady," she calls him "that loathsome monster … banal, trivial, and cliché-ridden."

The Saturday, September 13th program begins at 6:15 PM with a Double Feature, which begins with A VIRUS KNOWS NO MORALS (1985, First Run Features, 82 min.) in which von Praunheim unleashed his most furious assault since IT’S NOT THE HOMOSEXUAL… This graphic, hilarious, and always-tasteless burlesque of the AIDS crisis includes a drag chorus of singing nurses, a female shrink who believes AIDS is psychosomatic, and Rosa himself as an HIV+ bathhouse owner. "Our intention was to shoot a black comedy about AIDS … for many it will not be understandable that disease and death are treated with humor." – Rosa von Praunheim. Next on the same bill is SILENCE = DEATH (1990, First Run Features, 63 min.), the first film in von Praunheim’s militant AIDS trilogy. Here, he focuses on the urgent politicization of the arts community in New York City. He features interviews with Keith Haring, Allen Ginsberg (who discusses his own sexuality in very frank terms), and others. "Practically every frame speaks the belief that the government’s inaction has been conscious and murderous" – Michael Musto, Village Voice. Discussion following with Rosa von Praunheim. Following at 9:30 PM is a Double Feature which begins with DOLLY, LOTTE AND MARIA (1988, First Run Features, 60 min.), a delightful and always surprising look at three women who survived from the golden age of Berlin culture in the 1920’s. Dolly Haas is one of UFA’s greatest stars; Lotte Goslar is a dancer and clown who formed her own Pantomime Circus; and Maria Piscator is a famed dancer who choreographed for Max Reinhardt. "A bouquet to their longevity and talent" – Variety. Next on the same bill is SURVIVAL IN NEW YORK (1989, 90 min.), a documentary portrait of three young German women struggling to get by in New York was, which ironically, was von Praunheim’s biggest box-office hit overseas. "A fascinating look at what images can mean when captured in a foreign gaze" – Outweek.

Weekend 3: September 19th & 20th

The Friday, September 19th program begins at 7:15 PM with POSITIVE (1990, First Run Features, 79 min.), the second part of von Praunheim’s AIDS trilogy (the third part, FIRE UNDER YOUR ASS, has yet to be translated into English). POSITIVE follows three outspoken activists living with HIV: writer Larry Kramer, singer Michael Callen and journalist/filmmaker Phil Zwickler. Raw and brutally disturbing, the film echoes Kramer’s own famous cry that "AIDS is our Holocaust … New York is our Auschwitz." Following at 9:30 PM is a Double Feature which begins with HORROR VACUI (1984, 85 min.), fluorescent, CALIGARI-inspired madness about a young gay couple who fall under the spell of Madame C (played by von Praunheim favorite Lotti Huber), a "glittering sunshine monster" who parades around in sequined turbans and lamé muumuus, and espouses the doctrine of Optimal Optimism. Next on the same bill is RED LOVE (1981, 90 min.) which introduces us to the unforgettable Helga Goetze, a middle-aged hausfrau who discovered sexual freedom after 25 years of marriage (she conservatively estimates having 200 lovers in the past 3 years). In true von Praunheim fashion, the other half of the film is a deranged version of Red Love, a 1927 novella of sexual liberation by Bolshevik feminist Alexandra Kollontai. "May be his best movie … a double-barreled attack on institutionalized monogamy" – J. Hoberman, Village Voice.

The Saturday, September 20th program begins at 7:15 PM with CITY OF LOST SOULS (1982, 91 min.) which von Praunheim calls "a grotesque musical, my most entertaining film." The film tracks the desperate, beautiful lives of a group of (mostly) Americans in Berlin: transvestites Angie Stardust and Tara O’Hara, black exotic dancer Gary who has a thing for the supernatural, and star-struck Joaquin La Habana, Cuba’s cutest export. Following at 9:30 PM is NEUROSIA: 50 YEARS OF PERVERSITY (1995, First Run Features, 87 min.), von Praunheim’s filmed autobiography (every word is true – he swears it). NEUROSIA follows a homophobic TV reporter assigned to cover the murder of Germany’s most infamous gay filmmaker – Rosa von Praunheim. Along the way we meet von Praunheim’s long-suffering mother ("I’ve survived two world wars – living with him is the third"), hear horrifying details about his sex life, and get him to haggle over who inherits his wardrobe. As one appalled obsever puts it, "Everything sick, driven and degenerate fascinated him."

A complete calendar/flyer listing of these films has been mailed to you.

v Please note that The American Cinematheque has a

BLACK & WHITE PHOTOS AND PRESS KITS

AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

 

PRESS SCREENINGS

 

PRESS PASSES ARE NOT LIKELY TO BE AVAILABLE DURING THE FESTIVAL AS MOST SCREENINGS WILL BE SOLD OUT. IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE ADVANCE PRESS SCREENINGS.

 

THE FOLLOWING VIDEO CASSETTES ARE AVAILABLE FOR PRESS PREVIEW AT THE OFFICES OF THE AMERICAN CINEMATHEQUE:

 

A VIRUS KNOWS NO MORALS

AFFENGEIL – LIFE IS LIKE A CUCUMBER (PAL)

ANITA, DANCES OF VICE

DOLLY, LOTTE AND MARIA (PAL)

HORROR VACUI (PAL)

I AM MY OWN WOMAN

IT’S NOT THE HOMOSEXUAL WHO IS PERVERSE, BUT THE SITUATION IN WHICH HE’S FORCED TO LIVE

NEUROSIA: 50 YEARS OF PERVERSITY

POSITIVE

SILENCE = DEATH

SURVIVAL IN NEW YORK

TALLY BROWN (PAL)

TRANSEXUAL MENACE

 

Established in 1984, the American Cinematheque, is a non-profit, viewer-supported film exhibition and cultural organization dedicated to the celebration of the Moving Picture in all its forms. The Cinematheque presents weekly film and video programming which ranges from the classics and world cinemas to the outer frontiers of the art form at the Raleigh Studios Charlie Chaplin Theater and other Los Angeles venues. Exhibition of rare works, special prints within our series, etc., combined with fascinating post-screening discussions with the filmmakers who created the work, are a Cinematheque tradition that keep audiences coming back for once-in-a-lifetime cinema experiences.

The American Cinematheque is currently renovating the historic Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, which, when open in 1998, will become the American Cinematheque's permanent home and offer daily, year-round programming.

For information about this film program call 213/466-FILM. THE PROGRAM IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.

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