Curtocircuito 2016 Review: Coming of Age

After competing with his award-winning film Hotel Straussberg (2014) during last year’s edition of the Curtocircuito International Short Film Festival, German filmmaker Jan Soldat comes back to Santiago de Compostela to present Coming of Age, his latest documentary short. Among the Radar section of the festival (an international selection of fiction and non-fiction titles), we find this atypical love story featuring a couple of sexagenarian gay men named Kalle and Horst

Soldat is notorious for his explicit and audacious films, which usually revolve around alternative sexual practices and fetishism. Coming of Age is not an exception and, during the very first scene, the movie shows a couple of porn stars performing anal sex on TV, while one of the protagonists asks the other to prepare the playpen and change his diapers. Following the path of some of his previous works, such as Prison System 4614 (which turned heads at the Berlinale 2015) or The Incomplete (2013), Coming of Age represents another example of Soldat's exploration of human desires, which he usually finds in eccentric and unconventional relationships.

In this specific movie, we follow Kalle and Horst on what seems just a regular "Daddy-Son-Afternoon" inside their particular role game. Horst takes care of Kalle as if he was a baby, getting him cleaned and wrapped on a giant blue diaper. Slowly, this develops into an intimate and revealing conversation about male role models and the perception of homosexuality in modern day Germany: We find out how they met, that both of them were previously married to women (coming out when they were over 30 years old), and how Kalle's fetishism is related to an incontinence problem. At the end, they also have explicit sex in front of the camera, after which Horst ties Kalle to the bed and watches him sleep peacefully.

Far from a voyeuristic or provocative point of view, Soldat approaches these characters with clear mind and deep interest. He makes no judgments about their lifestyle, depicting his everyday life with ease and empathy. His real intention is to use film as a tool to discover different kinds of relationships and human passions which tend not to be represented on screen: “If what I show in my films becomes a norm in the society at some point, this would on one hand mean a success, and on the other, there wouldn't be any more things people haven’t seen yet to show” (Interview with Vanessa Scharrer for Nisimagazine).

Film Information
Original Title: Coming of Age
Director: Jan Soldat
Country: Germany
Year: 2016
Run Time: 13:22 mins

10 October 2016, by Jesús Silva