Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Love, German Style

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Love, German Style

Article excerpt

The director of a lesbian film set during World War II talks about taking risks

A milestone kicked off this year's Berlin film festival in February: Germany's own Aimee & Jaguar, the first lesbian feature to open the fest. Helmed by first-time feature film director Max Farberbock, the film is based on the true stow of a doomed love between Lilly Wust (Juliane Kohler), a previously straight Nazi hausfrau, and closeted Jewish writer Felice Schragenheim (Maria Schrader) during the turbulence of 1943. The women called one another "Aimee" and "Jaguar" in the love letters they penned. Their affair ended when Schragenheim, like so many Jews and homosexuals before her, was dragged off, never to be seen again.

Known for theater and television work, the married-with-children Farberbock is not the most likely choice to make such a film. But he had a long-standing desire to put a lesbian stow on celluloid--in fact, he'd written a similar script ten years ago. "When [the 1994 book] Aimee and Jaguar appeared on the market," Farberbock recalls, "I went in the bookstore and saw it but didn't want to open it. I thought, Maybe this story is much better than my own." It was, and Farberbock signed on to direct.

Considering the oppressive period during which his film is set, Farberbock attempted to avoid overplaying its potential melodrama. "You can get tears so softly, so easily," he says, "and I didn't want those tears which are so easy to get in a Holocaust movie." His two actresses, both well-known for their stage work (and both heterosexual), also strove not for melodrama but for truth. …

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