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Pulsating, intimate stories celebrating the power of love, family and friendship. A collection of playful, subversive and tender films which question love and power through stories of identity, equality and family to rupture inherited, often patriarchal forms of societal norms.

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Program Notes:

Husband and wife directorial team, Carolina Monnerat and Theodore Collatos, bring together their rich artistic backgrounds in this illuminating, cinema verite-style documentary about larger-than-life actress, cabaret performer, sex professional and activist Luana Muniz—arguably one of Brazil’s most famous transgender personalities—and some of the young trans women alongside whom she has lived and worked in the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Filmed largely in the house Muniz established in Rio as a safe space for transgender sex workers, Queen of Lapa explores the women’s day-to-day lives, quests for love, the Brazilian political climate, housemate rivalries and notions about body image, all under matriarch Muniz’s watchful and guiding eye. As Founder & President of the Association of Transgender Sex Professionals, Muniz had a decades-long history of lobbying and fighting for human rights on behalf of Brazil’s LGBTQI community.

Monnerat and Collatos began filming during the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil, and through interviews with each of the women, with clips of Muniz woven throughout, they masterfully showcase the power of friendship, community, identity and acceptance that binds the women together. Vividly shot, the women’s lives unfold in a kind of glorious, muted technicolor that often operates in startling contrast to the daily struggles that define so much of their reality with Muniz playing to/with the camera as if it were a lover or a client. Her “come hither” aura thoroughly permeates the film and gives it an undeniably seductive atmosphere.

Edgy, humorous, tender and relevant in an easy, effortless way, Queen of Lapaprovides a rare glimpse into a community that many think they know, but few actually do. Told with incredible grace and humanity, MdFF is thrilled to host the world premiere of Queen of Lapa, a film that is truly not to be missed. (Camille Blake Fall)