Villa Aurora Grant Recipients | 1998

Oct, Nov, Dec

Rosa von Praunheim | Filmmaker

Rosa von Praunheim © Markus Tiarks
Rosa von Praunheim © Markus Tiarks
born in Riga

Rosa von Praunheim is considered one of the most important directors in post-modern German cinema. In 1970, he achieved notoriety with his film It’s not the Homosexual Who is Perverse, but the Situation in Which he Lives. The film was crucial to the founding of the new German gay movement.   

Rosa von Praunheim was born 1942 as Holger Mischwitzky in Riga, Latvia, and raised in the GDR. He studied “Free Painting” at the Offenbacher Werkkunstschule (today HFG) and later at the HdK in Berlin (UdK). He did not complete his degree at either university. In the mid-sixties, he changed his name to Praunheim in remembrance of his Frankfurt neighborhood Praunheim.  Rosa refers to the pink triangle that homosexuals were forced to wear in the Nazi concentration camps.

In 1967, Rosa von Praunheim made his film debut with a short film entitled von Rosa von Praunheim and directed short and experimental films through the end of the 60s. His feature film debut, Die Bettwurst (1970), starring all amateur actors and no budget, is a story about a relationship and immediately became a cult hit. In the same year, he caused a scandal with the documentary It’s not the Homosexual Who is Perverse, but the Situation in Which he Lives and became famous beyond the gay community.

In the years that followed, Rosa von Praunheim's films and documentaries focused on three subects: the lives of vivacious, older women, homosexuality and AIDS, and New York City. In 1991, he outraged the public by outing famous show business personalities and politicians on television. In his own words, the intent of this morally questionable action was to draw attention to the AIDS problem and middle class double standards.

Apart from his work as a filmmaker, Rosa von Praunheim also has written non-fiction, poetry and prose since the 1960s. He was a lecturer in film directing at the Film University Babelsberg through 2006. Rosa von Praunheim lives in Berlin.