Circle, The (2014): Stefan Haupt’s Tale of Gay Life and Arts in Zurich of Yesteryear (LGBTQ)

Written and directed by Stefan Haupt, The Circle, which was Switzerland’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, concerns a social network of gay men in Zurich in the 1940s and 1950s.

The avenue of communication was a gay publication named “The Circle,” which sponsored and advertised all kinds of social and cultural events.

The lack of legal proscription against homosexuals and Zurich’s growing notoriety provide the context for the growth of a publication that overtly catered to gay readership while avoiding explicit materials, both in prose and illustrations, in order to meet the standards of Swiss censorship.As the police investigate three murders of gay men, they accuse The Circle and its subscribers of making Zurich an international center of gay tourism.

At the center of the movie is the bond between Ernst Ostertag and Röbi Rapp, a schoolteacher and a drag performer, respectively.  The men met through the magazine’s inner circle and began a lifelong romantic relationship.

Interviews with them and other survivors and experts on the era are interspersed with documentary footage and photographs, as well as a scripted dramatic enactment of the story.

The couple are portrayed by Matthias Hungerbühler and Sven Schelker, and there are interviews with the real-life Ostertag and Rapp.