Rent Boys – „Die Jungs vom Bahnhof Zoo” – (Germany, 2011)

Die Jungs vom Bahnhof Zoo

* un film documentar de Rosa von Praunhein cu Sergiu Grimalschi, Peter Kern, Master Patrick. ** german only, no subtitles.

jungs_vom_bahnhof_zoo_dieThe documentary Die Jungs vom Bahnhof Zoo is a compelling weave of authentic stories about rent boys that manages to illuminate the phenomenon of male prostitution whilst carefully avoiding the clichés that surround the milieu.

The film focuses on the biographies of five rent boys, three of whom are Roma. We follow Ionel back to his village in Rumania and learn of the impoverished lives that lads like him have left behind. Nazif is a former civil war refugee from Bosnia who came to Germany as a child. He was still very young when he began working as a prostitute and taking hard drugs at Bahnhof Zoo. Romica, a young Romanian, has founded a family that has long relied on prostitution to make a living.

Some of the rent boys are under age lads who were once abused by pedosexuals and later wound up as sex workers. One such individual is Daniel-René, a young man who, even today, still suffers deeply as a result of his traumatic experiences.

The film’s main protagonist is Daniel, who began working as a male prostitute at the age of sixteen. His life makes abundantly clear the kind of social context which can pave the way for a life of prostitution.

The film also features conversations with social workers as well as owners of bars frequented by prostitutes and johns, such as Austrian actor-director Peter Kern.

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First Steps Awards in Berlin6_3_00_10_0101Rosa von Praunheim, born November 25, 1942, in Riga, during the German occupation under his real name Holger Radtke, grew up with his adoptive parents in East Berlin under the name Holger Bernhard Bruno Mischwitzky. After the escape to West Germany in 1953, the family lived at first in the Rhineland and eventually settled in Frankfurt am Main. In Frankfurt, von Praunheim attended a classical language high school but left already after finishing secondary school level. He started to study painting at Offenbach’s Werkkunstschule (today: Hochschule für Gestaltung – HfG). One year later, he transferred to Berlin’s Hochschule für Bildende Künste but did not graduate any of his studies. At this time, during the 1960s, he assumed his stage name Rosa von Praunheim, as reminiscence to his Frankfurt quarter Praunheim and to the “Rosa Winkel” (pink triangle) – the symbol, homosexuals had to wear in the concentration camps during the Third Reich.

In 1967, Rosa von Praunheim made his movie debut with the short film Von Rosa von Praunheim. He sold the film to Hessischer Rundfunk and by doing so was able to fund further movie projects. Until the end of the 1960s, he finished short and experimental films like Grotesk – Burlesk, Pittoresk (1968), Schwestern der Revolution (1969), and Samuel Beckett(1969). His feature film debut, the relationship story Die Bettwurst (1970) that was filmed with lay actors and nearly no budget at all immediately became a cult film. In the same year, Praunheim caused a stir that went far beyond the gay scene with his documentary film Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation in der er lebt (It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives) – virtually overnight, von Praunheim turned into an icon of the German gay movement that experienced a downright boom through the film. —


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