Queen of Lapa, the critically-acclaimed documentary from directors Theodore Collatos and Carolina Monnerat will have its much-anticipated New York premiere as part of the documentary competition at the 31st edition of New Fest: New York’s LGBTQ Film Festival, taking place October 23 – 29.
A favorite at numerous international film festivals, including Sheffield, Maryland, Australia’s Antenna Documentary, and Scottish Queer, winner of the Alternative Spirit Award at the Rhode Island International Film Festival and named Best SHOUT Feature Film at the Sidewalk Film Festival for best LGBTQ film, Queen of Lapa is an intimate and captivating portrait of renowned cabaret performer, activist, and sex worker Luana Muniz, one of the most influential transgender Brazilians in history.
Humanizing issues around transgender sex work in Rio de Janeiro—a city currently governed by a conservative Evangelical mayor in a nation presided over by a far-right head of state—Queen of Lapa offers a look into the lives of sex workers whose very existences are battled on dual fronts: for identifying as transgender in an openly hostile sociopolitical environment in addition to making their livelihoods through prostitution.
A proud sex worker since the age of eleven, Muniz, has helped to usher in a more tolerant reality for new generations of trans sex workers by offering housing and protection, through her “hostel,” in the crime-heavy neighborhood of Lapa. Collatos and Monnerat’s documentary explores the day-to-day lives, rivalries, and quests for love of “Luana’s girls,” as Muniz offers them mentorship in a country recognized for its violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Along with profiling an unsung heroine, this fly-on-the-wall verité documentary humbly listens, sans judgement, to frank discussions of transfemme victory—and tragedy—on the streets of Lapa.