Herr Schmidt und Herr Friedrich


Germany 2001
69 Min
Original with english Subtitles
Original with russian Subtitles

Directors: Ulrike Franke, Michael Loeken

A portrait of a gay couple and at the same time a relationship comedy and a journey into the German past. The love between Kurt Schmidt and Wilfried Friedrich managed to surmount both the Wall in Germany and the wall in private life. With all openness, they talk about their past, their future plans and the way they cope with concerns about the present. Herr Schmidt and Herr Friedrich let us participate in their lives. They grip us, surprise us, move us and make us laugh. But be careful! He who finds these two petit bourgeois men amusing, will discover the same – in himself.




2001 — Filmschau Niedersachsen / Inventur 8 / Hannover, Germany

2001  — DOK.fest /
16. Internationales Dokumentarfilmfestival München, Germany

2001 — 13. Annual New York Lesbian & Gay Film Festival / New York, USA

2001 — 16. Umeå International Film Festival / Umeå, Sweden

2001 — 8. Dokfilmwerkstatt Drehort OstWestDeutschland / Insel Poel, Germany

2001  — 14. Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival / Milwaukee, USA

2001  — 46. Cork International Film Festival / Cork, Ireland

2001  — Lesbisch Schwule Filmtage, Hamburg, Germany

2001 — DOK Leipzig / 44. Internationales Leipziger Festival für Dokumentar- und Animationsfilm, Germany

2001 — Kasseler Dokfest / 18. Kasseler Dokumentarfilm- und Videofest, Germany

2002  — 28. Internationales Filmwochenende Würzburg, Germany

2002  — 23. Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis / Saarbrücken, Germany

2002 — 4. Ljubljana Documentary Film Festival / Ljubljana, Slovenia

2002  One World Film Festival / Prag, Czech Republic

2002  — 2. International Dokumentary Film Festival Flahertiana / Perm, Russia

2002  — FILMZ – Festival des deutschen Kinos / Mainz Germany (Award)

2004  — 11. Febiofest – Prague International Film Festival / Prag, Czech Republic

2004  — Festival del Mar – Ibiza International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival / Ibiza, Spain

2007  — UNERHÖRT! – 1. Internationales Festival für Musikfilme / Hamburg, Germany


„Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken’s award-worthy documentary about the mundane end of a great love combines comedy with sadness.“  
Andrea Kaiser // Die Zeit // 22.11.01

„Mr Schmidt and Mr Friedrich have been moving and amusing myself and my friends since May this year. What a beautiful, subtle love story in the German ‚Little – People – Paradise’…“
Wolfgang Joop // Juni 2001

„The filmmakers confine themselves to the role of sympathetic, but distanced, observers who appear neither in person nor as off-screen commentators. (…) Herr Schmidt und Herr Friedrich teaches us, with simple cinematic methods, that there can be a halfway right life in the wrong one after all.“  
Raimund Gerz // epd Film // 12.2002

„With infectious humour and unflinching optimism, the film transmits a sense of what Mr Schmidt and Mr Friedrich have left behind, and taken on, in order to be able to live their lives together.“  
Blickpunkt:Film // Nr. 49/2002

„From the very first quiet images, the film develops a tranquil melancholy that makes the discrepancy between the dreamed promise of happiness and real life directly palpable.“
Hans Messias // Filmdienst // Nr. 25/2002

„The documentary Herr Schmidt und Herr Friedrich from Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken is many things at the same time, a journey down memory lane, a sensitive portrait and also a document of love as well as of the history of Germany’s division and life in the backwaters of Germany today.“  
Bettina Göcmener // Berliner Morgenpost // 12.12.02

„The final, seemingly laconic news of Wilfried’s death represents the directorial duo’s work, which is as precise as it is full of integrity. Not for a moment do Franke and Loeken approach their interlocutors from the top down; they are always on a level playing field. The curious passion for German „Schlager“ pop music is accepted as a way of life, just like the homosexual relationship is, without comment.“ 
Claus Löser // taz // 12.12.02

„Maybe he will be a little happy one day when he can re-watch how Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken portrayed their life together: the bereaved Mr. Schmidt could not wish for a better souvenir. Such a wonderful film that recognises the unique in the trivial, the deeply felt in the schmaltzy, the sadness in the comical and the great love in the awkwardness: for everyone who is tired of the “shrill” gay programmes on television, this wonderful film is a gift.“
Sybille Simon-Zülch // epd Medien // 1.12.01

„Luise Stroeve has never experienced anything like this in her almost 50 years of cinema: a small, sensitive documentary about a gay couple’s not-so-straightforward relationship becomes a box office hit in Nordhorn.“
Karl Maier // Rundbrief Nordhorn // Mai, Juni 2003

„…This film about a love based on memories is set apart above all its stringency, its sympathy for the two men, who are never made to look foolish or, even worse, belittled…“
German federal authority for evaluating and rating film and media / broschure „highly recommended“ 2001/2002

„The whole film gains depth and sympathy because the directors never, not for one moment, make fun of their protagonists. With its melancholy tone, the film lets them do as they will and tell their story, and this familiar and respectful attitude makes it touching.“
Jan Dimog Tanjuaquio // Siegessäule.de // 12/2002

„Rarely has this genre of music been so ennobled as by this absolutely sincere, un-ironic, anti-camp relationship between these two gentlemen, who allow such intense insights into their lives that their commitment to their petit-bourgeois idyll is almost painful to see. This film is a lesson in attention without voyeurism, because it listens and by doing so, is able to capture what slips through the cracks of the scandal-hungry media: in general, the dignity of normality and in particular, the self-evidence of being gay.“
Programmankündigung Unerhört! Festival 2007

„From the very beginning, there is an air of tragedy and resignation surrounding this documentation of an extraordinarily intense love, evident in the speechlessness of the two people involved, and the feeling that two people are trapped here in their search for a paradise. But this turns out to be a pseudo-paradise in many scenes, whether they are playing miniature golf in a hall with plastic tropical trees, barbecuing in their dark garden or cherishing their collection of souvenirs and plants together. What makes this film about a love based on memories particularly special is, above all, its rigour and its sympathy for the two men, who are never ridiculed or scorned, and its melancholy.“
Extract from the FBW’s explanation of the rating „highly recommended“



Berlin 1977 – When Wilfried Friedrich and Kurt Schmidt meet for the first time, they fall head over heels in love. Both of them are convinced that they have met the man they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Their story began before the fall of the Wall: one was a salesman in the west, the other was a waiter at a train station restaurant in East Berlin.

These are the days of the Cold War. Germany is divided into East and West and their love is caught in between. Wilfried is kept under permanent surveillance by the STASI, the East German Secret Service. He is classified as a deviant, a homosexual in contact with the enemy and thus regarded as a potential danger to the German Democratic Republic. Being together seems impossible, there is no hope. Wilfried and Kurt start fighting for their love, trying to tear down the walls that stand between them. The days of employment are long gone and the two men, both in their mid-fifties, are confronted daily with the question of the meaning of life. They occupy themselves with various hobbies, like mini-golf, gardening, grilling, and above all, various well-maintained collections. For example, records, video cassettes, decorative plates, model trains, letters and secret police files.


Herr Schmidt und Herr Friedrich
Germany 2001
69 Min
Original mit englischen Untertiteln
Original with russian Subtitles

Directors: Ulrike Franke, Michael Loeken
Director of Photography: Jörg Adams
Location Sound: Csaba Kulcsar, Nikolaus Kindlovits, Olav Gross
Editor: Timothy McLeish
Production: Viola von Liebieg
Commissioning Editor: Dagmar Filoda
Co-Production: NDR
Supported by: Filmförderung des NDR in Niedersachsen, filmbüro NW