Director Rosa vonPraunheim, an outspoken gay advocate (and, despite that first name, certifiably male), uses nonprofessional actors in this story of a debilitating effects the AIDS epidemic...
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Director Rosa vonPraunheim, an outspoken gay advocate (and, despite that first name, certifiably male), uses nonprofessional actors in this story of a debilitating effects the AIDS epidemic has on a mythical country called Germany. VonPraunheim himself plays the owner of a gay sauna, whose only concern vis-a-vis AIDS is that it will probably put him out of business. Things get personal when both the owner and his lover contact the disease. From this point on, things become as surreal as possible, with a newspaper editor printing phony AIDS information to sell papers, a looney female scientist conducting experiments amongst the African gorillas (one of whom rapes her), a bisexual nurse deliberately infecting all her patients so that everyone will suffer, and the government rounding up AIDS victims and herding them into remote colonies.
This, at the time, was a pioneering film. The always innovative and irreverent Rosa von Praunheim broke the ice on satirizing AIDS. This was later done by several other independent directors from Canada and the USA, also imitating the parody musical format which von Praunheim created. This film is still the most important of its genre. Von Praunheim was severely ostracized for poking fun at such a subject. But he insisted that given how the world had ignored AIDS up to then (1985; it took the Rock Hudson death to shake the US then), satire was necessary. He was right. Whatever would cause the most raucous would bring the most attention to AIDS. And it worked. So, don't expect a landmark film. But it is a film that perhaps highlights von Praunheim's career as a gay activist, not as a film maker.
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