Believe it or not, the history of gay cinema can be traced back to Germany.
In 1919, during the early days of the Weimar Republic, director Richard Oswald released Different From The Others, a short film created in protest of the country’s Paragraph 175, which made homosexuality a criminal offense. Through its story of a violinist (Conrad Veidt) who falls in love with his student (Fritz Schulz), Oswald’s work is often cited as the the world’s first pro-gay film.
Over 100 years later, the impact of Different From The Others on global cinema cannot be overstated, especially in Germany, where it paved the way for a number of sexy, thought-provoking, and boundary-breaking queer-themed movies. In the past 20 years alone, a number of fantastic gay features have come from German filmmakers that you might have missed.
Here’s a list of 5 excellent gay, German films you can add to your watch lists.
Center Of My World (2016)
Center Of My World is a dysfunctional family dramedy with a sweet and sexy gay romance at its center. After falling for the mysterious new guy at school, Phil’s (Dark‘s Louis Hofmann) attempts to balance the alluring fling with his best friend and his especially chaotic home life, with his eccentric mother and siblings who gladly embrace their status as the village outsiders.
Streams on Dekkoo and Kanopy. Available for rental on Amazon Prime Video.
Free Fall (2013)
Before there was My Policeman, there was Free Fall. A police officer-in-training (Hanno Koffler) enters into an affair with one of his fellow recruits (Sense8‘s Max Riemelt), despite the fact that he has a wife (Katharina Schüttler) at home with a child on the way. The intense, physical connection between the men provides the film with plenty of drama and, yes, lots and lots of skin.
Streams on Hulu, Kanopy, and Tubi. Available for rental on Vudu and iTunes.
Futuro Beach (2014)
Narcos‘ Wagner Moura stars in this beautiful Brazilian-German film as Donato, a lifeguard who fails to save a German tourist from drowning at the titular beach, but strikes up a romance with the victim’s friend, Conrad (Clemens Schick). As the story jumps ahead in time, it traces Donato’s journey of self-discovery with stunning imagery and simmering chemistry.
Streams on Tubi. Available for rental on Amazon Prime Video, YouTubeTV, Vudu, and iTunes.
A kind of love story not frequently depicted on film, Romeos follows the blossoming connection between two young men, one of whom, Lukas (Rick Okon), is navigating his life as a transgender man, unsure of what to share with his new partner, the local “bad boy” Fabio (Max Befort). The thought-provoking romance explores gender identity in a way that’s both hilarious and heart-wrenching.
Streams on Amazon Prime Video. Available for rental on YouTubeTV, Vudu, and iTunes.
Summer Storm (2004)
A classic coming of age drama, Summer Storm takes us to a quiet, German campground at the lakes where a young crew team is training ahead of a big rowing competition. When a gay youth rowing team arrives at the camp, it inspires best friends Tobi (Stadlober) and Achim (Kostja Ullmann) to confront their feelings for one another.
Summer Storm is not currently streaming, but can be purchased through Amazon Prime.