Outfest Launches Fund-raiser to Restore 1919 Gay Film

By Daniel Reynolds

Originally published on Advocate.com October 25 2012 4:29 PM ET

Outfest, the world’s leading organization devoted to LGBT cinema, is raising funds on Kickstarter for the restoration of Different From the Others, the earliest known surviving film that records a romance between two men.

Released in 1919, during the era Germany's Weimar Republic, Others was revolutionary in its sympathetic portrayal of a gay violinist and his relationship with a young protégé. Highly controversial, the silent film openly criticized German laws criminalizing homosexuality and diagnosed social stigma as a cause of suicide among gay men. Its subject matter sparked censorship laws that closed the door to LGBT cinema for half a century. Only one partial reel escaped destruction by the Nazis.

In its partnership with the UCLA Film and Television Archive, Outfest is working to complete the restoration of this landmark film, which will be made available as a teaching tool for students around the world. The organization has created a Kickstarter goal of $5,000, to be met by November 21.

“When the film was first shown in 1919, gay and lesbian audiences must have been amazed that a mainstream fiction feature film would portray their situation as a fact of nature, rather than as a perversion,” said Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, at the Outfest Legacy Awards earlier this month. “By preserving these films, UCLA Film and Television Archive, with its partner Outfest, helps guarantee the long and difficult struggle for gay rights is reflected in the cinema … and will be available to future generations.”

“We might appear to be different from the others, but at our core, we are all the same,” stressed Kirsten Schaffer, the executive director of Outfest, adding, “This is what history feels like.”