Archives / 2000 Sundance Film Festival

Paragraph 175

Director: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Screenwriters: Sharon Wood

Institute History

Description

From the directing team that created The Celluloid Closet, Paragraph 175 interviews the few surviving homosexuals who endured unspeakable horrors under the Nazi regime. Through the testimonies of these men and woman, an untold chapter of the Holocaust unfolds. It is extremely painful for these survivors to recall what they went through, and their expressive silences speak volumes.

The film follows Klaus Müller, a determined historian, who is gathering documentation for the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Unlike other persecuted groups, gays have never received any public acknowledgment from the German government or any other authorities. Time is running out as only ten known survivors remain.
The film is a delicate mix of seamlessly melded personal testimony and historical footage. The survivors’ stories are contrasted with prewar Berlin’s casual stance on gay lifestyles, where men and women were free to express themselves. Prior to the war, the archaic Paragraph 175, a law against homosexuality, was strongly opposed by prominent gay Berliners. When the Nazis came to power, they clamped down until men could be arrested for a simple glance or touch. When a high-ranking official in Hitler’s party, a known homosexual, was removed and killed, everything changed.

Paragraph 175 differs from other Holocaust documentaries because of the historical perspective of this particular minority. The film serves as a symbol of the way gays are viewed worldwide, historically and in modern times. This evocative film brilliantly illustrates the remarkable resilience of the human spirit.

— Lisa Viola

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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