Building upon the talent displayed in her exquisite debut Exotica, Erotica, Etc., Evangelia Kranioti’s latest film is another breathtaking and poetic meditation on isolation and gender politics. This time around Kranioti observes the sensual and transforming power of Rio de Janeiro’s transgender community.

Our guide through the “factory of dreams or nightmares” is the late Brazilian transgender icon Luana Muniz. Embracing the inherent strength that comes with being able to constantly reinvent oneself, Muniz proudly proclaims that “gender doesn’t seize me anymore.” The personal freedom she feels does not shield her from the hypocrisy that engulfs her beloved Brazil.

As much as she believes that Rio de Janeiro would be a transvestite if it was a person, Muniz is not shy to point out that the land is run by men who have made a political mess of things. This makes her both an object of desire and fear. Muniz is a walking contradiction in a society that revels in the transformative nature of carnival but suppresses the rights of transgender individuals.

Similar to Kranioti’s previous work, Obscuro Barroco’s loose, but calculated, structure relies heavily on its stunning visuals. Through its vibrant images, Kranioti can make a simple fog covered forest or colourful parade float feel like a haunting entity, the film creates a vivid and contemplative tableau of gender, equality, politics and what it means to be oneself.

The philosophical dreamlike approach may not sit well with those expecting a more straightforward look at Muniz’s life. However, much like the late icon herself, Obscuro Barroco joyously charts its own hypnotic path.

Screens:
Wednesday, May 2, 9 PM, Hart House Theatre
Thursday, May 3, 12 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Sunday, May 6, 1:15 PM, Scotiabank Theatre

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