Director: Sebastian Meise
Cast: Franz Rogowski, Georg Friedrich, Anton von Lucke, Thomas Prenn
116 minutes – German with English subtitles – 2021
In post-war Germany, liberation by the Allies does not mean freedom for everyone. Hans is repeatedly imprisoned under Paragraph 175, which criminalizes homosexuality. Over the decades, he develops an unlikely bond with his cellmate Viktor, a convicted murderer in it for the long haul.
Forget the cliches about gay stories and about prison life, this is about an unapologetic man seeking his own freedom on his own terms. The film also goes beyond the historic repeal of Paragraph 175 and the pseudo-freedom it brings Hans, it explores tenderness, love, lost time, and the tenacity of the human spirit.
Amongst its 30 wins and 28 nominations Great Freedom won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at Cannes in 2021 then scooped another 5 prizes at the annual Austrian Film Awards in 2022. Great Freedom was selected as Austria’s entry for Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards.
Chronicling an ignominious chapter in queer history, Great Freedom is also a contemplative psychological study of the effects of incarceration, and beyond that, an unconventional love story, tender but unsentimental.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“Great Freedom” makes an exquisite case for the impossibility of caging the heart, even when love itself is criminalized.
Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
This is a film about being true to yourself, in life and in love, set against a world that has other ideas about who you are and who you are expected to be and that will grind you down every chance it gets. It’s a masterpiece.
A quiet and carefully constructed story about the sheer absurdity of the criminalisation of homosexuality, and about the denial of humanity that criminalisation required.
Kevin Maher, Times (UK)
A modern day masterpiece.
Poulomi Das, Firstpost