Following hot on the heels of the annual Gay Pride parade in Copacabana comes the 20th edition of the Festival Mix Brasil de Cultura da Diversidade (Mix Brasil Festival of Cultural Diversity), featuring more than 130 LGBT-themed feature films from around the world.
‘The festival came about by chance,’ says João Federici, who alongside André Fischer is the curator and creator of the event. That chance event happened in 1993, when Federici was asked by a Brazilian event organiser living in New York to dig up some Brazilian LGBT-themed films, to be shown at a festival. With a limited selection available, Federici and Fischer asked their friends to create short films. The result was twelve original shorts and the birth of one of São Paulo’s most interesting annual festivals.
Short films are still very much part of the festival, shown in a series of well curated categories and starring in the festival’s own version of the Gong Show, presented by the actress Marisa Orth. In it, films of up to 5 minutes in length are shown to an audience that, gladiator style, has the power to decide whether or not the film should be shown in its entirety.
This year, theatre also joins the programme for the first time – look out for the play Sob a Luz do Lampião da Esquina (‘Under the light of the Lamp-post’), which tells the story of Brazilian newspaper Lampião da Esquina – the first to talk about sexual diversity during the late-1970s.
But feature films still form the bulk of the festival’s programme, which kicks off with the Belgian film Noordezee, Texas (No Caminho das Dunas, in Portuguese), by director Bavo Defurne. The film tells the story of a shy boy, neglected by his mother, who had always dreamed of becoming a beauty queen. Now a teenager, he struggles with an unrequited love for his neighbour.
‘The film was chosen because it addresses LGBT issues very subtly,’ explains Federici. ‘There are so many great films in the programme,’ he adds, ‘but we always try to open the festival with one that isn’t too heavy.’ The 2011 edition of the festival began with Tomboy, a charming film whose protagonist, a young girl who moves to a new town with her family, pretends to be a boy.
The festival’s diversity theme goes beyond sexual orientation to include distinct ages, cultures and religions. What’s it like to be gay in a predominantly Islamic country? Or during childhood? And in old age? More than 200 shorts address these and other issues. In the categories ‘The Other Side of Islam’, ‘Empowered Women’, ‘From 8 to 80’ and ‘Children’s Programme’, the films will be followed by debates featuring special guests.
All events feature a very special discount: when you go to buy your tickets for any one of the paid films, just tell the seller, ‘sou gay’ (‘I’m gay’) or ‘sou simpatizante’ (‘I’m gay-friendly’), and you’ll pay half-price admission. The festival takes place at the two SESC screens on Botafogo's Rua Voluntarios da Pátria and from Parque Madureira to Copacabana. Check out the full programme at mixbrasil.org.br. Foreign films will have Portuguese subtitles.
Top 5 LGBT films
In Iran, the friends Atafeh and Shireen become lovers. Atafeh’s brother, a former drug addict who is now fervently religious, may put the girls’ relationship at risk.
Circumstance is at 9.30pm, 28 Nov at Centro Cultural Cândido Mendes, Rua Joana Angélica, 63, Ipanema
Dir. Maryam Keshavarz, France/USA/Iran, 2011. Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, Soheil Parsa and Reza Sixo Safari. 107 min.
Bearcity 2: The Proposal
The hirsute version of Sex and the City returns and it is bachelor party time at Bear Week in Provincetown.
Bearcity 2 is at 8pm, 23 Nov and 4pm, 25 Nov at Estação Sesc Botafogo
Dir. Douglas Langway, USA, 2010. 112 min.
The Invisible Men
This documentary about the challenges faced by men forced to live illegally in Tel Aviv due to their sexual orientation delivers a powerful message.
The Invisible Men is at 9pm, 9 and 29 Nov, and 7pm, 28 Nov at Cine Joia
Dir. Yariv Mozer, Israel/Holland, 2012. 67 min.
An elderly lesbian couple head towards Canada and pick up an attractive young guy, possibly a gigolo, on their way.
Cloudburst is at 9.30pm, 27 Nov at Centro Cultural Cândido Mendes, Rua Joana Angélica, 63, Ipanema
Dir. Thom Fitzgerald, USA/Canada, 2011. Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, Ryan Doucette and Kristin Booth. 93 min.
Notre Paradis (Our Paradise)
Vassilli is a male prostitute who becomes conflicted when his clients start to think he’s too old. Outraged, he goes on a killing spree. Both actor Stéphane Rideau who plays Vassilli and the director will be at the festival.
Our Paradise is at 10pm, 25 Nov and 6pm, 29 Nov at Estação Sesc Botafogo
Dir. Gaël Morel, France, 2011. Stéphane Rideau, Dimitri Durdaine and Béatrice Dalle. 100 min.