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Opening: The Devil Queen + Q&A
Institute of Contemporary Arts
A black person with green eyeshadow, wearing a tiara and covered in beans, surrounded by friends enjoying a drink at a party
The Devil Queen, dir. Antonio Carlos da Fontoura, Brazil 1974, 100 min., Portuguese with English subtitles

The Devil Queen is loosely based on the persona of Madame Satã (“Madam Satan,” a name adapted from the Cecil B. DeMille film), ex-slave, drag performer, trans icon, biological father of seven, convicted murderer and legendary cabaret performer who was an outlaw hero of Rio’s 1930’s underground. Fontoura’s contemporary ’70s riff is also shaped by the director’s admission that every time he smoked a joint, he wondered about the bloodshed that came with it. And the movie has no shortage of it, in garish, Hershchell Gordon Lewis red, chronicling the war that erupts in the streets after The Queen and his henchmen attempt to frame a small-time street hustler to take the fall for his boyfriend. Milton Gonçalves dominates the title role with a ruthless, wry performance that garnered him Brazil’s preeminent Best Actor award. And Odete Lara (star of The Devil Queen Me Enganga and Glauber Rocha’s Antonio Das Mortes) is also spectacular as the hustler’s nightclub singer girlfriend.

Just as Copacabana predates Scorsese’s soundtracks and self-styled tough guys (motifs further developed here), The Devil Queen is startlingly prescient of Pedro Almodóvar’s subject matter and kitschy aesthetic approach, populated with a cast of hustlers, street walkers, addicts, and outcasts that would make fine Warhol superstars. (Come to think of it, this film also predates the Scorsese montage where people run around with guns and slaughter each other over a thin wire of searing, acid-rock guitar.) The Devil Queen was one of the first films to chronicle the culture of drugs and criminality that existed in Rio’s favelas, but it forgoes the neorealist approach in favor of a nicely toasted version of Late Cinema Novo expressionism; there are oblique feats of subtly fried cinematography that appear as if they were processed not through the camera lens, but somehow willed into existence by tetrahydrocannabinol itself.

The film was restored in 4k by Glênis Cardoso and William Plotnick (Cinelimite / IDFB). It received its world premiere at the 73rd Berlinale.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with KK Obi and Hélène Selam Kleih, hosted by Miss Jason.
08:30 pm
Fri, 28 Apr 2023
Cinema 1
Add a ticket to the afterparty for only £2 extra – an evening of DJ sets in the ICA Bar to celebrate opening night. With Cõvco, Sarra Wild, Hasani.
(add both tickets to basket for discount to apply)

All films are ad-free and 18+ unless otherwise stated, and start with a 10 min. curated selection of trailers.

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