By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Featuring over one hundred films, the Rio Festival Gay de Cinema (Rio Gay Film Festival) returned to Rio de Janeiro for its 2015 edition on Thursday, July 2nd and will continue through July 12th with debates, director presentations and film screenings in multiple theaters and locations throughout the city.
Coincidentally, this edition of the festival follows last week’s landmark Supreme Court ruling in the United States and the festival’s organizers hope to offer filmgoers in Rio de Janeiro new perspectives on the issues still facing the homosexual and transgender community in Brazil and in countries around the world.
Presented by the City of Rio de Janeiro and the Secretaria Municipal de Cultura (The City’s Department of Culture), the festival opened at Cine Odeon, in Cinelandia, with Director Cesar Terranova’s “Gazelle- The Love Issue, ” a documentary about a forty-five year old Brazilian flight attendant, his drag person Gazelle, and the issues he faced following the sudden death of his partner of seven years. Terranova and stars of the film, Paulo Gazelle and Scooter Laforge, attended the opening and the popular group Drag-se performed live.
Of the one hundred and twenty-four films featured in the festival, twenty-seven are full-length and ninety-three are short films. The International Panorama section will feature eighteen new films and nine films, mostly documentaries including “Gazelle- The Love Issue, ” will be shown as part of the National Panorama section of the festival.
“The prevalence of documentaries has to do with the need to tell the stories of what is happening in Brazil in terms of issues surrounding sexuality,” director and curator of the festival, Alexander Mello told Agência Brasil. “It is cinema used as a tool to combat prejudice, as a way of speaking to influential people in the community. ”
This year the festival will receive added visibility as more theaters in the city will feature screenings. In addition to Cine Odeon, the festival’s films will screen at Cine Joia, in Copacabana, the Instituto Cervantes in Botafogo; and the Centro Cultural Justiça Federal (CCJF) in Centro. Further expanding its reach during this edition, the festival will present screenings n Rio de Janeiro’s North Zone at two locations; Dicró in Penha Circular and Jovelina Pérola Negra in Pavuna.
As it is also a competitive festival, there will be an award ceremony and ways for the public to participate by voting for their favorites. Additional festival activities include debates and panel discussions held at Livraria Cultura in Centro as well as at theaters following the screenings of selected films. The talks will feature guests including directors and respected figures in the film industry.
The schedule of events includes Swedish director Bitte Andersson’s presentation of her debut film, “Dyke Hard” followed by a live performance by Buck Blossom on Friday, July 3rd at Cine Odeon; a debate with director Cesar Terranova after a screening of “Gazelle – The Love Issue” at Cine Joia on Saturday, July 4th; and a debate with director Inés María Barrionuevo following the screening of her film “Atlantida” at Cervantes Rio on Sunday, July 5th, among many other events.
In addition to “Gazelle – The Love Issue”, “Dyke Hard”, and “Atlantida,” other notable films featured in this year’s festival include “Game Face,” a documentary by Michiel Thomas about LBGTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning or Queer) athletes and their coming out experiences and “Favela Gay,” a documentary directed by Rodrigo Felha about the LBGTQ community in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas. “Favela Gay” was also featured in the 2014 Festival do Rio, the Rio International Film Festival and there it was awarded the festival’s Première Brasil award for the Best Full Length Documentary.
For the complete program, screenings times, theater/venue addresses, and additional information, see the official Rio Festival Gay de Cinema website.