Flouting Realism, Brazil’s LGBTQ Directors Establish an Exciting New Wave

By Tanner Tafelski

The Village Voice references the Americas Society 2017 exhibit José Leonilson: Empty Man, in its review of the "LGBTQ Brazil" film series.



LGBTQ cinema is thriving in Brazil, manifesting in movies that are playful and daring, outright denying even a modicum of conventional, naturalistic filmmaking. Of course, in the past, there’s been the work of the late Argentine-born Brazilian director Hector Babenco, who populated his notable films with gay characters (1981’s Pixote, 1985’s Kiss of the Spider Woman). But the current wave of LGBTQ-themed and -made cinema is a recent and distinct phenomenon, having taken off well into the twenty-first century with adventurous films by the likes of Karim Aïnouz, Daniel Ribeiro, and others.

That these contemporary LGBTQ movies were made in Brazil is timely and of the utmost importance. Although the gay community has great visibility there, and gay marriage enjoys legal status, the country has recently experienced “an all-time high” of “victims of homophobia” (including murders and suicides). The opposition to alternative lifestyles, perspectives, and identities is only getting worse under the conservative government currently in power. Just last year, a far-right libertarian group, Movimento Brasil Livre, shut down the first major exhibition dedicated to queer art in Brazil — nearly a month before it was scheduled to end. In this context, the Museum of the Moving Image’s two-day series “LGBTQ Brazil” — curated by Ela Bittencourt (a Voice contributor) and co-presented by Cinema Tropical — couldn’t be more necessary, existing amid the distressing rise of censorship in the country from which these films originate.

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