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.
Comedy about AIDS. That's right--a comedy. Nowadays this probably wouldn't bother anyone, seeing as AIDS is no longer the death sentence it was, but in 1985 this was considered sick and tasteless. I caught it at a small art theatre in Boston back in 1986. The audience was wall to wall gay guys. Nobody laughed during it but nobody seemed real upset by it either. It was just too...strange. There are some incredibly depressing scenes involving a gay couple where one discovers he has AIDS and then we cut to a bunch of guys in drag singing songs! It was an uneasy mix of drama and comedy with the accent on comedy. The only good thing I got out of the movie was information about AIDS. There was a local AIDS activist group right outside the theatre. They supported the film and were handing out pamphlets to people that explained what HIV and AIDS were. Remember--the government ignored it completely back then until it became an epidemic. So it attempted something in 1985 that was unthinkable. Sadly I don't think it succeeded.
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