Queer Brazil on Film

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A program of six shorts and five features depicting LGBTQ life in Brazil — all of them New York City premieres — will screen in the Bartos Screening Room at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, July 28-29. A full rundown of the weekend’s program, co-presented with Cinema Tropical and presented in Portuguese with English subtitles, follows.

JULY 28 AT 2 P.M.

The short film “Terremoto Santo” is a mini-musical about a handful of impassioned performers singing about God and the power of worship. One sequence involves a Joseph-like young man, who sings about jealousy and his coat, while a woman sings about the holy tremor of God that gives this film its title. Note: “Terremoto Santo” is the series’ one offering without overt queer content.

“Music for When the Lights Go Out” is Ismael Caneppele’s experimental documentary/ fiction hybrid. Emelyn (Emelyn Fischer) is a teenager coming to terms with her lesbianism by creating a fictional story as “Bernardo” for a filmmaker (Júlia Lemmertz). Episodic and impressionistic, the film eschews narrative for mood. Many scenes feature characters illuminated at night, often kissing or just hanging out. There is little dialogue, but Caneppelle communicates emotion through his strong visuals, such as a couple in silhouette embracing in a field.

JULY 28 AT 4:30P.M.

In Fábio Leal’s erotic gay romance “The Daytime Doorman,” Marcelo (Carlos Eduardo Ferraz) is attracted to his building’s married-with-child doorman, Márcio (Edilson Silva). As the men share an incredibly intimate bike ride, the film builds its sexual tension. The relationship between the men plays out after they engage in a passionate encounter, generating much of the film’s dramatic tension. This excellent short speaks volumes about race, class, and sexuality.

The feature “Sweet Amianto,” directed by Uirá dos Reis and Guto Parente, opens with the trans title character (Deynne Augusto) rejected by her boyfriend (Dario Oliveira). She retreats home to revel in her despair, seeking advice from Blanche/ Carlos Wellington Mendes (dos Reis), a ghost. Blanche reassures Amianto she will find love, and a series of vignettes signifying dreams and fantasies unfold. In one, Amianto has an out-of-body experience. In another, Blanche tells the story of how Carlos died that involves him waking up one morning completely green and covered in large blue spots, an obvious AIDS metaphor. A third has Amianto meeting Herbbie (Rodrigo Fernandes), who may become the love of her life. The episodes are each unusual and have interest, but even at 70 minutes “Sweet Amianto” feels slight and underdeveloped.

JULY 28 AT 7 P.M.

The short “Vando Vulgo Vedita” starts out in a carefree fashion as a dozen-plus youths dye their hair blonde and head out for a day of frolicking at the beach. However, the group is soon missing their friend Vando. The sobering reason for his disappearance is presented in this haunting film about homophobic violence.

In contrast, “Sol Alegria” is an anarchic comedy — at times stylish, sexy, and political. The loosely-plotted story involves a father (director Tavinho Teixeira), his wife (Joana Medeiros), their son (Mauro Soares) who sports pink hair, and their daughter (Mariah Teixeira) parachuting into the country’s interior after dealing with a corrupt pastor. They meet up with nuns who enjoy an anal penetration device. (They insist the father try it, and he does). There is a musical number in which topless nuns brandishing guns sing about weed. The family also has an encounter with arrow-wielding Native people before participating in a carnival-esque performance.


“Sol Alegrio” is a collection of wild, earthy scenes, from an erotic sequence featuring the son being fellated by one man while another guy asphyxiates him to a comic bit involving the son and daughter sitting on top of their moving car and shitting onto a cop car following them. The film is outrageous and outlandish, and at times amusing, but it doesn’t always make much sense.

JULY 29 AT 3 P.M.

“Sr. Raposo” is Daniel Nolasco’s hypnotic short about his partner, Acacio (Geovaldo Souza), who is living with HIV. The film is full of striking imagery, from a handsome man sexually sucking on a gun to an erotic montage of various guys masturbating and an unusual sequence of Acacio being pursued in a forest by two hunky dudes carrying an ax. As anecdotes, fears, and dreams are recounted in voiceover, the strange rhythms of Acacio’s life come into focus.

“The Passion of JL” is a compelling documentary feature about Brazilian artist José Leonilson, who created more than 4,000 works of art before he died at age 36 from AIDS. In 1990, he started taping audio diaries on cassettes, and the film is a playback of his recordings with artwork and film clips illustrating his thoughts and emotions. He describes his breakup with his partner and his loneliness. He cries watching Madonna frolicking in the ocean in her video for “Cherish,” and at the opening sequence from “Paris, Texas” featuring Harry Dean Stanton wandering in the desert. In response, several pieces of Leonilson’s artwork juxtapose the ocean and the desert.

Leonilson confesses his anxiety about his relationship with his parents, his fear of contracting AIDS, and his musings about a potential new boyfriend. When José does test positive for HIV, he re-evaluates his life and relationships and continues to create art. “The Passion of JL” is a poignant, moving commemoration of this artist lost to AIDS and his legacy.


JULY 29 AT 6 P.M.

The short “Heaven,” by Luiz Roque, opens with a news report of a virus, spread by saliva, having high rates of infection among the trans community. The film makes salient points about how government ignores the needs of marginalized communities and it features some stylized visuals, but Roque also shoehorns in vignettes of sex, music, and club scenes that dilute his important message.

Another short, “We Are All Here,” chronicles the experiences of Rosa Lux, a 17-year-old trans woman who has been thrown out of her house. As she tries to build a shack in a swamp area where the poor live, she considers issues of prostitution, poverty, education, and housing. Her hardscrabble life includes abuse, such as kids calling her “tranny,” and a lack of governmental support for her community. In the face of all this, she remains resilient and inspiring.

The feature documentary “Bixa Travesty” aka “Tranny Fag,” is a bold film about the unabashed MC Linn da Quebrada, a transgender performer, as well as her friends and family. The concert scenes are fantastic, and da Quebrada’s charisma extends off-stage as well. She is seen co-hosting a radio show with fellow trans performer Jup do Bairro and talking about her life with her mother, her hairdresser, and others.

“Bixa Travesty” often offers frank declarations, such as, “Before I was a fag, now I’m a tranny,” and indelible images— watch da Quebrada paint her genitals with a tube of lipstick by inserting it into her foreskin. Late in the film, a critical health issue facing her is introduced. Da Quebrada may be a bit too in-your-face for some viewers, but this film captures her spirit vividly. When she plays a piano and a particular key doesn’t work, it is a potent symbol for a voice that might go silenced.



LGBTQ BRAZIL | Museum of the Moving Image | 36-01 35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria | Jul. 28-29 | movingimage.us