EXCLUSIVE: The documentary Queen, which makes its world premiere tonight at the SXSW Film Festival, comes at a particularly difficult time for LGBTQ culture. Tennessee just imposed a ban on “adult cabaret shows” (in other words, drag shows) in public places or places where children might see them. Similar legislation is progressing in more than two dozen other states.

Last year, Florida passed a law that prohibits teachers from having classroom discussions about sexual orientation or gender identity until 3rd grade (the so-called ‘Don’t Bill t Say Gay”) and a Republican lawmaker now wants to extend that ban across 8e grade.

But as Queen shows, the situation is arguably even more dangerous for LGBTQ people in Russia, where the Putin-controlled Russian parliament late last year passed a law banning the “propaganda of non-traditional sex.” The star of Queenhowever, bravely challenges the Russian anti-LGBTQ movement.

“Gena, a queer artist from small-town Russia, dresses in otherworldly costumes made from trash and tape, and protests against the government in the streets of Moscow,” a description of the briefing notes . “Born and raised on the harsh streets of Magadan, a freezing outpost of the Soviet gulag, Gena is only 21 years old. She stages radical performances in public that become a new form of art and activism. By doing this, she wants to change people’s perception of beauty and homosexuality and bring attention to the harassment of the LGBTQ+ community. The performances – often dark, eerie, evocative and bizarre at their core – are a manifestation of Gena’s subconscious. But they have a price. »

Courtesy of Agniia Galdanova

Agniia Galdanova directed Queen. Oscar-nominated filmmaker David France is executive producing the film, which premieres in the feature-length documentary competition. France has been selected for the 2020 Documentary Oscar Welcome to Chechnyawho investigated the appalling treatment of LGBTQ people in the former Soviet Republic that remains under Putin’s thumb.

We have your first look at Queen in the dramatic clip above, which shows Gena getting tangled up in barbed wire in preparation for a performance. The documentary is directed by Agniia Galdanova and produced by Igor Myakotin and Galdanova. The photograph is by Ruslan Fedotov; Vlad Fishez is the editor.

SXSW 2023 Signage

Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW

“As a teenager, I struggled to accept myself and constantly endured humiliation and beatings because of my ‘unfeminine’ look,” Galdanova writes in a director’s statement. “From an early age, I often pretended to be a boy and wore shapeless clothes and heavy shoes. It was my refuge from the stereotype that a girl should be feminine. Years later, I I was beaten by two men in the very center of Moscow simply because they thought I was a guy in a skirt. I decided to pursue the themes of sexuality and gender identity in my work. My The initial idea was to follow several drag queens around Russia. One of the first potential characters I met was Gena. After spending time together, I was mesmerized by Gena’s artistry and courage. To me, she wasn’t just one of many drag queens, she was an artist embarking on a journey of self-discovery.

Galdanova continues: “I hope that when someone from Russia or any other country where being queer is illegal, look Queenthe film and Gena will give them the confidence to accept themselves and share their truth with the world, however dangerous that may be.

Queen is an acquisition title at SXSW, along with Sub and UTA sales. Additional screenings of the film at SXSW are scheduled for March 12 and 17. Watch the exclusive clip above.


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