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Freak Orlando (18*) + ScreenTalk with Ulrike Ottinger

Queer 80s

A group of people dance in a large dome.

Ulrike Ottinger’s unforgettably bold and bizarre take on Virginia Woolf’s gender-changing hero has to be seen to be believed.

Years before Sally Potter’s Orlando and Paul B. Preciado’s Orlando, My Political Biography came queer icon Ulrike Ottinger’s wild, sprawling interpretation of Virginia Woolf’s gender-changing time traveller, Orlando, played by cult actor Magdalena Montezuma. Alongside residents of so-called ‘Freak City’, Orlando bounces from a modern department store to the Middle Ages to the Spanish Inquisition, encountering weird and wonderful characters on the way.

The film came at the beginning of a wave of queer cinema works made in the last decade of West Germany’s existence. Ottinger’s work with a variety of unconventional actors, the depiction of disabilities and the diversity of the human form, continues to be provocative to this day. It invites us to challenge our own ways of thinking about Queerness and the way we live and conceive it.

Tagged with: Cinema Queer 80s

West Germany 1981 dir Ulrike Ottinger 126 min

Following the film, there will be a ScreenTalk with Ulrike Ottinger, hosted by Professor Rosalind Galt.


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Co-presented with the Goethe-Institut

Rosalind Galt is a Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. Her recent books include Alluring Monsters: the Pontianak and Cinemas of Decolonization (2021) and Queer Cinema in the World (2016), co-authored with Karl Schoonover.

‘A freewheeling, confounding, frequently hilarious, often opaque, and awe-inspiring picaresque paean to letting one’s freak flag fly.‘
Jon Dieringer, Screen Slate

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