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GDR Feature Film: COMING OUT

Coming Out

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01.10.2021 - Article

As the first and only GDR feature film to openly deal with homosexuality, “Coming Out” plays a special role in DEFA cinema. This film by Heiner Carow tells the story of Philipp, a young teacher, who sinks into an existential crisis in East Berlin in the 1980s. Torn between his life with his pregnant partner and his love for his friend Matthias, he must finally take a decision.

Philipp Klarmann, an ambitious teacher, enjoys great popularity in his school. His colleague Tanja falls in love with him and the two get into a relationship. However, the reunion with his former classmate Jacob, with whom he has had a relationship in the past, confronts the young teacher with his repressed homosexuality. When Philipp meets Matthias in a gay bar, the two men fall in love with each other. Philipp then falls into a growing emotional conflict as he tries to maintain both his relationship with Tanja and that with Matthias. A painful process of self-acceptance begins, leading to his coming out and open recognition of his homosexuality.
The only feature film in the GDR depicting taboo subjects such as racism and right-wing radicalism, and openly addressing homosexuality, Coming Out represents historical and cinematographic testimony of particular importance. The film's premiere, on November 9, 1989 in East Berlin, aroused such interest that an additional screening had to be organized the same evening. Coming Out would have caused a sensation if it had not been for important another event: during the screening, spectators learned that the border posts to the West had just been opened …

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