Watch film

Max and the others

Documentary, 78 min, AT, D, UKR 2014

Max and the others

Berlin. Max is 61. He has a lot of sex. Sex with escort guests. Sex with his leather friends. Sex with his boyfriend Dima, 25 years his junior. Sex with his old friend Jan. They all come to the playroom in Max’s Kreuzberg apartment. Max doesn’t hide his HIV positive status from anyone – today he only practices safer sex. For Dima, who is HIV negative, Max’s status isn’t a problem. Dima enjoys the freedom of their open relationship. He lives in Kiev but regularly visits Berlin, where he can live openly and pursue his sexual preferences without hiding.

At Max’s apartment, there’s always something going on. If Dima isn’t visiting from Kiev or no guests are visiting, Max makes whips from old bicycle tubes or cooks up a special fisting lube using a recipe of his own invention. The playroom also needs a lot of work: to avoid chaos, everything must stay in its allocated place. Max runs his life with military precision; order is of utmost importance to an ex-lieutenant colonel. The suspension of the sex sling is adjusted regularly; the steel cage cleaned and the toys are sorted and arranged. For Max, swapping the playroom for a regular bedroom is out of the question. He sleeps in the living room.

Max’s life runs like clockwork. But when a routine check up during one of Dima’s visits to Berlin delivers some shocking news, Max’s ordered life starts to come apart at the seams. We are taken on a journey between clinics and immigration departments, between Berlin and Kiev. In the complicated cats-cradle strung between the loaded silence of the family kitchen and the comfort and safety of the playroom, lies a wordless craving for acceptance, affection and security. Max and the Others lifts the curtains on a hidden world in which survival is achieved by excluding others until only loneliness remains.

Max Finger was born in 1952 in Bad Wildungen in Hesse, Germany. He grows up with three sisters in Löhlbach. His parents run the local post office in the village. After his A levels he starts his military service in Kassel in the early seventies. In 1975 he begins his studies of educational science at the University of German Federal Armed Forces in Hamburg. In the first year of his studies Max comes out. Two years later he leaves university to go back to the troops where he serves as a trainer for recruts till the early eighties in Munster. His last rank is lieutenant. He decides to leave the army and begins an occupational re-training as travel agent in Hamburg. After three years of training he starts a new job as administrator at an inscurance company in Hamburg. In 1995 he is diagnosed with HIV. Due to increasing health reasons he enters early retirment in 1999. One year later he moves to Berlin, where he still lives today.

Dmytro Lisnychyi was born in 1976 in Kiev, Ukraine. He grows up with his parents and his sister. After finishing his A levels he starts his studies of Ukrainian Language and Literature at the National Pedagogical Dragomanov University. He graduates in 1998 and goes back two years later to do a PhD in Ukrainian Language and a Bachelor in English and Foreign Literature. Next to his studies, in 2002 he starts to work as a freelance journalist and editor for the regional radio programme of the Kiev Broadcasting National. After graduating succefully in 2007 he takes on a job as editor at the translation office of MTV Ukraine. In 2008 he travels to Berlin for the first time. After many short visits to Berlin he moves there for good in March 2012 where he still lives today.

Jan Grosser was born in 1963 in Kiel. He grows up as a single child with his parents. In 1981 he converts to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormones). After finishing his A-levels in 1983 he moves to South Carolina, USA where he works as a missonary for the South Carolina Columbia Missionary. In 1985 he starts to study medicine at the Southern Utah University but with his coming out two years later he leaves the Mormone church and moves back to Germany. In 1988 he restarts his studies of medicine at the universtiy of Hamburg. During his college years he works in nursing and as a medical intern in the US. After his succecsful graduation from med school he starts his work as a med in the department of psychiatry at the Moabit hospital in Berlin. In 1996 Jan is diagnosed with HIV and starts therapie right away. He moves to London in the following year where he works as assistant doctor in several London hospitals. He finishes his residency in psychiatry and starts to work as psychatrist and specialises in the field of mental disorders and addictive disorder. Due to consistent health problems after suffering from a serious brain tuberculosis he reduces to work part time. In 2011 Jan moves back to Berlin and retires from his medical work as a psychatrist. Today he lives in Berlin Schöneberg and works as a freelance photographer.

Director, Cinematographer & Editor:  Richard Rossmann
Production: Richard Rossmann Filmproduktion
Dramatic Advisor: Louise East
Sound & Mix: Mario Dancso
Postproduction: Thomas Zipf
Music: youguysmusic & Pascal Briggs
With the support of:
German Aids Hilfe E.V.
National Council on TB and HIV Prevention (CCM) of Ukraine
HIV Prevention Center Kiev, Ukraine

International Queer & Migrant Film Festival Amsterdam
Cinema Queer International Film Festival Stockholm 2015
Doc Point – International Documentary Film Festival Helsinki 2015
Fetisch Film Festival Rom 2015
Molodist International Film Festival Kiev 2014
19. LesGaiCineMad 2014
El Lugar Sin Limites Ecuador LGBT Film Festival 2014
Rollenwechsel Oldenburg 2014
Pornfilmfestival Berlin 2014
Reeling 32 – The Chicago International LGBT Film Festival 2014
FestDIVQ Caracas Venezuela Film Festival 2014
Thessaloniki LGBT Film Festival 2014
Leeds Queer Festival 2014
La Paz Bolivia LGBT Film Festival 2014
San Luis Potosí Mix Festival 2014
Festival Mix Mexiko 2014
Libercine Festival 2014
Visions du réel 2013
Gender Doc Fest Rom 2013