One of the more eccentric figures to emerge from the New German Cinema movement, Rosa von Praunheim (ne Holger Mischwitski) studied painting in Berlin before apprenticing with openly gay filmmakers Gregory J. Markopoulos and Werner Schroeter. He made several short films in the late 1960s--the first was "Von Rosa von Praunheim" in 1967--and moved into TV work with 1970s' "Die Bettwurst/The Bedroll." Von Praunheim first garnered notice with the documentary "Sisters of the Revolution" (1969), which examined the women's liberation movement and included a segment on homosexuals who supported feminist causes. The satirical "It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverted, But the Situation in Which He Lives" (1970) follows the "coming out" process of one young man and engendered some controversy for its depictions of stereotypical gay men caught up in what was perceived as a self-destructive lifestyle.
Von Praunheim has remained a more marginal figure than contemporaries such as Volker Schlondorff and Wim Wenders, preferring to address issues of politics and sexuality, especially gay and lesbian sexuality and AIDS, than to reach a broader mainstream audience. He also has again and again courted controversy with his films. "Army of Lovers or Revolt of the Perverts" (1979) examined segments of the gay rights movement in the USA and pointed up the fragmentation of the leadership into groups with self-aggrandizing agendas. Not all of his work focused exclusively on gay themes, either (i.e., "Red Love" 1982), von Praunheim was also interested in people living on the margins of society and many of his films openly challenge the complacent views of audiences. He has dabbled in thrillers ("Horror Vacui" 1984; "Der Biss/The Bite" 1985) as well as profiled cabaret artists from the 1920s and 30s. Working in tandem with American documentarian Phil Zwickler, von Praunheim crafted a trilogy ("Silence = Death," "Positive" and "Fire Under Your Ass" --the latter remains unreleased in the USA) which examined the effects of the AIDS crisis in NYC. In 1995, he produced, directed and played himself in "Neurosia: 50 Years of Perversity," an autobiographical feature structured after Orson Welles' 1941 classic "Citizen Kane" with a journalist investigating the murder of infamous filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim. More recently, he helmed the documentary "Gay Courage: 100 Years of the Gay Movement" (1998) which featured historical reenactments.
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Directed first 16mm (12 minute) short, "Von Rosa von Praunheim"
Helmed the documentary "Sisters of the Revolution" which examined the women's rights movement
Made the feature-length TV movie "Die Bettwurst/The Bedroll"
Directed the satire on gay life, "It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Situation in Which He Lives"
Produced, directed, shot and appeared in the documentary "Underground and Emigrants"
Wrote, directed and produced "Berlin Bettwurst", a sequel to "Die Bettwurst"
Investigated the underground cabaret scene of Berlin in "Stadt der Verlorenen Seelen/City of Lost Souls"
Helmed the thriller "Horror Vacui"
Examined the effects of the AIDS crisis in NYC in "Schweigen = Tod/Silence = Death" and "Positive"; both made in collaboration with Phil Zwickler
Wrote, produced and directed the biographical docudrama "Ich Bin Meine Eigene Frau/I Am My Own Woman", based on the life of German transvestite Charlotte von Mahsldorf
Directed, produced and played himself in the autobiographical comedy "Neurosia: 50 Years of Perversity"
Appeared as himself in "I Was a Jewish Sex Worker", a documentary directed by Phillip B Roth
Directed the documentary "Gay Courage: 100 Years of the Gay Movement"