A Psychological Drama
A small gang of homophobic youths systematically bully a gay couple out of their home, while local authorities passively observe the unfolding events from the side-lines. The Courtyard is a chilling contemporary psychodrama about social prejudice and persecution.
Screenplay: Heinrich Dahms
Director: Heinrich Dahms
Producer: Michele Aime
Completed screenplay. In development.
The film opens as Nico Jaeger (50), a teacher and sympathetic family man with a son and daughter of school-leaving age, comes home and informs his wife of 25 years that he has fallen in love with a man. Nico has chosen to follow his destiny and go on an epic journey of self-discovery with all the perils this may unleash. Cut forward to Nico and his new partner, Frantz Brill (36), a musician, opening the front door of their newly renovated apartment in a social housing estate that’s mainly occupied by first-and second-generation North-African immigrants. Their kiss, on the threshold of their new home, promptly incurs the wrath of homophobic teenagers Murat (16) and Mahmoud (15) and sets the stage for the cathartic events to follow.
Nico is already having a hard time trying to win back his children, and now he and Frantz become the targets of what, on the face of it, appears to be an increasingly abusive gay-hate campaign. Frantz ‘discovers’ a musically gifted Moroccan boy, Ali Benzakour (11), and takes him on as his music pupil with the consent of his sympathetic mother, Latifa (35). Murat however intervenes aggressively and spreads the rumour that the couple are not only gay, but also paedophiles. Before long, Nico and Frantz find themselves ostracised by everyone in the ‘community’, except Ali’s mother, Latifa.
When Nico sees Murat tenderly escorting his frail, terminally ill mother home from a taxi, he figures that the boy ‘must have a heart’, and decides to talk to him personally. Nico takes a brutal beating that lands him in hospital with a broken nose and stitched-up lip. During the beating, Murat accuses Nico of being one of the ‘rich’ that are ‘stealing his people’s homes and breaking up their community’. This prompts Nico to investigate and he soon discovers that the immigrant community is facing mass evictions and fragmentation in the name of ‘socio-economic emancipation’ and ‘civilization’.
Finally, face to face with the Lord Mayor (representing the wrathful god in this tragedy), Nico takes his stand, expresses his solidarity with the community and rejects the option of becoming a pawn in the mayor’s grand design. Unfortunately, and ironically, his principled stance is not enough to reverse his inexorable fate, nor to prevent the inevitable catharsis of this contemporary social tragedy, which is set entirely in the closed confines of the couple’s apartment and courtyard.
The Courtyard is a contemporary psychodrama about prejudice and persecution, implicitly designed as a classical Aristotelian tragedy and reminiscent, in tone and ambiguity, of the films of Michael Haneke.
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