Frameline Highlights South America's New Queer Cinema

by: Lucho Ramirez
Queer cinema is booming across Latin America, and we're showcasing new works from Brazil, Argentina and Peru. Enjoy Sundance Award-winning Undertow, this year's Centerpiece Narrative film.

Elvis & MadonaCurrently, South America is the source of some of the most exciting and innovative LGBT films screening at festivals around the world. At Frameline34, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival will showcase ten fresh new works from Brazil, Argentina and Peru.

The history of many countries in South America has been one of great repression, with governments particularly hostile to academics, social activists, journalists, artists and students. Most of the continent's countries are overwhelmingly Catholic, with strong patriarchal cultures tied up in strict religious practice. It has been the tradition of many of these countries to have highly-defined gender expectations, where queer sexuality or gender variance stand apart from culturally policed ideals.

Yet, over the past decade, we have seen huge societal shifts across the continent, underscoring the old adage that the only thing constant is change. Left of center governments have swept into power in several South American countries. Women have been elected president in Argentina and Chile. Bolivia elected its first president of indigenous descent, and Brazil's popular president is a former union labor leader.

These changes have brought about increased creative freedom, more open attitudes toward sexuality, and even a growing mainstream interest in LGBT rights. Polls in the region show that there is increased acceptance for LGBT people, particularly among youth; and Argentina now has pending legislation and court cases considering the legalization of same sex marriage.

Some of this change comes from the exposure and interconnectivity with the rest of the world that brought outside LGBT news stories and entertainment into homes across the continent. Along with this increased openness, South America is now witnessing a sea change reflected in the rising tide of filmmakers who address the diversity of sexuality in their works.

The forerunner of this new wave of queer films from South America was the magnificent first feature debut of Argentina's Lucia Puenzo, titled XXY. Set on the stunning and haunting coastlines of Uruguay, XXY was Frameline32's Centerpiece film in 2008 and the film that won the audience award for Beat Feature that year. It told the unforgettable story of the struggles of an intersex adolescent, played to perfection by Inés Efron.

In 2010, Frameline34 is pleased to present the following selection of ten extraordinary queer films from South America. These include seven narratives, one documentary and two short films. Each of these new works uniquely reflects the political and cultural climate of their country of origin, and each demonstrates how constant and enduring change can be.

Narrative Features


Short Films

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