It has been a stellar year for cinematic storytelling of the LGBT community. This year's best documentaries feature a variety of fascinating subjects, including Prop. 8 plaintiffs, gay dads, a bank robber, gender outlaws, and an Olympian. See The Advocate's top 10 picks below.
When Ernst Ostertag and Robi Rapp met through Der Kreis (The Circle), an early gay organization in Zurich in the 1940s, homosexuality was legal in Switzerland, but there was virtually no social acceptance of LGBT people. Ostertag, a shy teacher, fell in love with Rapp as he watched Rapp perform in drag in a cabaret. Though similar in plot to The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich, this story has a happy ending. The are still a loving couple, and in the 1990s they became the first same-sex couple to have a registered partnership in Switzerland. Ostertag and Rapp are the subject of a new film directed by Stefan Haupt, The Circle, which is making the rounds of film festivals and won the Teddy Award at the 64th Berlinale. It is also Switzerland's official Oscar entry.
Regarding Susan Sontag
Filmmaker Nancy Kates presents an in-depth portrait of Susan Sontag, the renowned writer of groundbreaking works like the essay “Notes on ‘Camp,’” Illness as Metaphor, On Photography, and The Volcano Lover. Regarding Susan Sontag traces Sontag’s writing and filmmaking career from her high school newspaper through the publishing of these major works. It also provides insight into her private life through interviews with contemporaries and former partners, including her ex-husband David Rieff, with whom she had a son, and details her relationships with women in the latter part of her life. It’s a loving ode to the “Dark Lady of American Letters” that also does not hesitate to show its subject’s flaws.