Award-winning Swiss director Stefan Haupt may have to make room in his trophy cabinet with his latest film The Circle (Der Kreis).

Switzerland has submitted the film, set in post-war Zurich during the gay rights movement, for the Best Foreign-Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards.

“It’s an honour to represent Switzerland but this is just one step on a long road,” Haupt tells Screen from his Zurich base.

Beginning in 1958, The Circle is based on the true story of young teacher Ernst Ostertag who falls in love with transvestite star Robi Rapp. Ostertag becomes a member of gay organization Der Kreis, seen at the time as the pioneer of gay emancipation, and follows its rise and fall.

The film received its world premiere in the Panorama section at this year’s Berlinale and won both the Teddy Award and the Audience Award.

“We hoped to make a successful film but also a good film on an important subject,” said Haupt of its success to date. “We have been overwhelmed by the awards and great reactions.”

The Circle has been sold in more than 15 countries in Europe and Asia and has been invited to more than 70 international film festivals to date, winning prizes in Boston and Los Angeles among others.

The film opened in Swiss cinemas last weekend through distributor Ascot Elite and will be released in Germany by Salzgeber and the US through Wolfe Video in October.

Speaking ahead of the festival, Haupt said: “At the moment, I’m working day and night on a new script. But I won’t miss the opening night of the festival.”