As a young man, Rob de Vries displayed an early interest in filmmaking with his 8mm camera, and in male love. In the late seventies, he left Rotterdam for the then dazzling city of Amsterdam, where the young gay movement grew explosively. Along with all sorts of artists and militant gays, he travelled across the country to protest against homophobia. And he captured everything on film. Sometimes in a documentary style, sometimes he opted for fiction, as in his short films about coming out or the queer-bashing theme. Incorporating this historical footage and his own stories, De Vries leads us through a fascinating private life, portraying an important period in gay emancipation in the seventies and eighties, a time when people in the Netherlands were still only mildly tolerant towards gays. The film starts with De Vries’ first steps in cinema (atmospheric images of a Rotterdam bridge in the style of Joris Ivens), followed by his own wedding film and images of performances by artists with colourful names like Het Valse Nichtenkoor and Tedje en de flikkers.
„The footage that makes up the documentary < Queer > is drawn entirely from 8mm films by the Rotterdam-based amateur filmmaker Rob de Vries. It is an ode to the medium of amateur film, a chronicle of the late 1970s and early 1980s, and a lively biography. But, above all, it is an intimate portrait of Holland’s radical gay movement, for which de Vries was the < resident filmmaker >.
From the moment that de Vries came out, homosexuality played a role in all his films. Rob de Vries was the only filmmaker to document the Dutch fight for gay liberation from within the movement.
After some thirty years, these images have literally come out of the closet. De Vries watches them again for the first time, together with the audience, and provides a cheerful commentary that carries us along a winding road of home movies, reportage, video diary avant la lettre, and hilarious fiction.
The images bear witness to the joy, freedom, honesty and lack of pretension typical of the period and also to the sunny mentality of the man behind the camera.
Filmmaker Arthur Bueno asked de Vries to tell the stories behind the images and wove the text and images into a free compilation. It affords a rare glimpse of a colourful world, which feels like an intimate evening at home watching movies with the curtains closed.”