Working at a job for 50 years is commendable—donning drag for a half-century is incredible. But that’s what the Brazilian queens at the heart of Divine Divas are celebrating. The new documentary, having its American premiere this month at SXSW, is the directorial debut of Leandra Leal, a Brazilian actress who essentially grew up among these dazzling performers. Her grandfather, Americo Leal, founded the Rival Theater in Rio, where they performed.
With their show “Divinas Divas,” these drag and trans performers challenged Brazil’s morality in the 1960s, when the country was under a military dictatorship. Divine Divas features decades of archival footage, interviews and live performances, and explores gay liberation, trans identity, the AIDS crisis, and even old age, with humor and poignancy.
Divine Divas screens at SXSW on March 11, 12 and 14.