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VENICE 2022 Giornate degli Autori

Review: Le favolose


- VENICE 2022: In Roberta Torre’s new film between reality and fiction, five trans women friends recall their glittering past and a friend who’s no longer there, amid dancing, laughter and séances

Review: Le favolose

Five trans women friends, an old mansion, a wardrobe full of shiny clothes and memories, a companion who died prematurely and a séance organised to invoke her. It happens in Roberta Torre's funny new film, Le favolose [+see also:
interview: Roberta Torre
film profile
, which opens this year's Notti Veneziane section at the 19th Giornate degli Autori of the Venice Film Festival. Amidst jokes, dancing, laughter and a few scuffles, Porpora, Nicole, Sofia, Veet and Mizia reunite after many years, and a fictional cue (a letter resurfacing from the past) gives them the opportunity to recall the glittering years gone by, their fabulous exploits, but also the less happy moments of their lives.

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It all starts with Porpora (Marsciano, a historical activist of the Italian LGBT movement), who calls together her old companions, protagonists like her of the trans constellation of the 1970s (Nicole De Leo, Sofia Mehiel, Veet Sandeh, Mizia Ciulini): she has found by chance an old letter, never opened, from Antonia (Iaia), their friend who died thirty years earlier, and would like to read it with them. In the letter, Antonia asked her friends to make sure that, when she died, she would be buried wearing her favourite green dress; instead, her letter was never read and, in fact, Antonia was placed in the coffin dressed as a man, because that was what her family wanted. The five women therefore try to make up for this shortcoming today, even resorting to the supernatural if necessary.

Reunited in the villa that had been the scene of their youthful adventures, and where they used to disguise themselves to become "fabulous" by drawing on a wardrobe full of feathers and sequins, the protagonists confront each other about their past: "We’d been happy in this house, but had we been happy in our lives?” Memories resurface, old photographs, the relationship with their families, the years of prostitution – free, without pimps – as the only means of subsistence ("without the honest profession, we would have never made it," confesses Porpora), but also drug addiction, the violence they suffered, the dramatic struggles for the freedom to be what they wanted to be.

The relevant theme of transsexuals who are deprived of their identity in death (their families often impose that even the tombstones bear their old, pre-transition names) is thus combined with the viva voce narration of the experiences of these women who exude vitality, pride and freedom, until the plot takes a turn into a phantasmagorical territory, which makes one smile and gives this curious object that is Roberta Torre's new film the contours of a fable. A fable "to give back to all the Antonias, who lived in the shadow of the theft of their identity, the clothes they would have wanted," is the director's intention. A work that, with a surprising mix of genres, adds a new, important piece to our awareness of the LGBT universe. Also in the film's cast, in 'ethereal' form, are Massimina Lizzeri and the visual artist, performer and model Mina Serrano.

Le favolose was produced by Stemal Entertainment and Faber Produzioni with Rai Cinema, in collaboration with Mit-Movimento Identità Trans.

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(Translated from Italian)

Photogallery 01/09/2022: Venice 2022 - Le favolose

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Roberta Torre
© 2022 Dario Caruso for Cineuropa -, Dario Caruso

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