Divinas Divas is by director Leandra Leal, about the first generation of drag queens from the 1960’s in Brazil who paved the way for other LGBTQ entertainers for years to come. Leal has a personal connection to her subjects, as her grandfather (who was also gay) owned the Rival theater that first featured the Divas. The theater was then passed down to his daughter, (Leal’s mother) an actress, who then passed the theater on to Leal (also an actress.) Leal grew up with the Divas who all were (and still are – it’s so very sweet) maternal with her, and this shines through in Divinas Divas, which brings the group together for one last show fifty years later. Divas is filled with heartbreaking and beautiful stories by and about each of them, who all but one live as women full time. They tell stories about the difficulties of being “different” in a repressive society and their triumphs and loves, all intercut with fabulous performances.
I loved this film and felt such warmth from these amazing ladies, though because they are all in their seventies I kept thinking of Terence Stamp in The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert – several of them had that same face! Their stories were equal parts inspirational and bawdy, and I may or may not have shed several tears. The fact that I screened this on National Coming Out Day was unintentional but certainly made Divinas Divas that much more profound. Warning – these ladies talk a LOT and they talk really fast so be prepared to read the subtitles quickly. But even if you miss some (which I surely did – I’m a slow reader) it’s easy to get the gist of what’s going on. I definitely recommend Divinas Divas and you can watch the trailer here.