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Is Different From the Others the First Gay Movie?

Different From the Others
Different From the Others

In 1919, a Social Democratic government came to power in Germany and lifted long-standing censorship laws. Acting quickly, filmmaker Richard Oswald joined with psychiatrist and gay-rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld to write and produce Different From the Others, a 90-minute drama about the love affair between a famous male violinist and his male student. No sex is depicted, yet the film generated vicious attacks from the right-wing press, who labeled Oswald a "perverted Jew."

Tragically, a complete physical copy of the film was lost forever, except for 40 minutes that Hirschfeld edited into a 1926 documentary about tolerance.

As part of its ongoing preservation partnership with the gay and lesbian film fest Outfest, the UCLA Film and Television Archives has reassembled those 40 minutes, using Oswald's screenplay as a guide.

"To use the term 'restore' would be wrong," says Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the archives. "There's not enough footage for a real restoration. But what we have put together allows people to experience the remarkable culture that existed in Berlin in the 1920s, which was wiped out, of course, by the Nazis. As far as I know, this is the earliest document we have of gays and lesbians being represented on-screen."

Different From the Others screens as part of the Outfest Legacy Awards, Orpheum Theatre, 842 S. Broadway, dwntwn., Saturday, Oct. 13, outfest.org/legacy/events.php

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