Madame Satâ looks at a key period in the life of the Brazilian street fighter and drag queen Joao Francisco dos Santos, who died in 1976 (and is played by Lázaro Ramos, who can also be seen at the festival in As tres Marias). Long before the recent open fitness and transvestite culture developed, this controversial, muscular and capoeira?trained underground legend was already a Brazilian icon of gay pride.
The film is set in the 1930s in the liberated bohemian Lapa district of Rio de Janeiro. During the day, Dos Santos works here as waiter and chef, while he divides his spare time between violent criminal activities and a bisexual troilist affair with Laurita and Tabou. In between, Dos Santos dreams of a better and more elegant life and relishes the beautiful costumes and the glamour of cross dressing. His life takes a dramatic turn when he manages to perform as drag queen.
Madame Satâ (Mrs Satan) sketches a portrait of someone who was not ashamed of his sexual proclivities and who would not allow anyone to oppress or ridicule him. With sensual close-ups, sex scenes and dark nightclub interiors, Karim Aïnouz' impressive debut feature emphasises the mood of illegality in which the story is set.