The Devil Queen (A Rainha Diaba)
Image courtesy of Antonio Carlos da Fontura

The Devil Queen (A Rainha Diaba)

classified 18 S

Restored & Rediscovered


Please note: This was screened in July 2023

Antonio Carlos da Fontura
Milton Gonçalves, Stepan Nercessian, Odete Lara, Nelson, Xavier Wilson, Grey Iara Cortes
99 mins, Subtitled, 1973, Brazil

Made at the height of the Brazilian military dictatorship, The Devil Queen openly flaunted censorship and remains a simply iconic piece of Black Queer Latin American cinema.

Brazilian legend Milton Gonçalves takes centre stage as the titular character herself, a drug queen-pin of Rio’s underworld, with a harem of boyfriends and a rogue’s gallery of vicious lieutenants. But, as the police start to circle, betrayals start to look mightily tempting to the Queen’s closest confidants, and soon the guns are loaded and the blood starts to flow.

Inspired partly by the life of João Francisco dos Santos—a drag queen, crime boss, father of seven and convicted murderer whose capoeira skills were also second to none — The Devil Queen is gloriously camp, criminal fun. Imagine John Waters decamping to make a Blaxploitation film in ‘70s Rio, and you’re not far off!

Content warning: the film contains outdated practices, such as negative depictions and / or mistreatment of people which some people may find offensive.

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

Presented in partnership with Queer Vision.

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