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Thirty or 40 years ago Brazilian films were as political as any in the world; today most carefully avoid social conflicts and contradictions. Of course there are exceptions, and Madame Sata is one. The story of an immensely strong drag queen in Rio in the 1930s—a legendary rebel, thief, and eventual murderer who was also generous and loyal to the limit—it describes more than an early South American Stonewall. Joao Francisco dos Santos, whose character is carefully built by director Karim Ainouz and wonderfully acted by Lazaro Ramos, is the incarnation of a certain ethic of resistance. Black, poor, and gay in a country that even today doesn't acknowledge that racism is a dominant force, Madame Sata fights back, becoming a role model rather than an object of pity. This is an important film. In Portuguese with subtitles. 103 min.

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