The Cinema Museum, London

The Vito Project LGBTQ+ Film Club presents The Devil Queen (A Rainha Diaba) (1974)

Sun 12 Mar 2023 @ 18:00 · Events

The Devil QueenFollowing the success of its sold-out season on Classic Hollywood ‘Camp’, THE VITO PROJECT QUEER FILM CLUB presents its new season. DRESSED TO THRILL: A Series of Films Exploring Dress Code and Gender Expression celebrates characters that use dress as a means to subvert gender and societal rules. We will journey through different decades and countries to explore narratives that defy, confront, or expose gender expectations. We invite you to dress to impress, open the celluloid closet with us, and marvel at a line-up of magnificent misfits – be they anarchic, playful, detestable, or absolutely fabulous.

The VITO Project Queer Film club is thrilled to present the UK premiere of the restoration of The Devil Queen (A Rainha Diaba) (1974), fresh from its run at the Berlinale.

A camp, colourful and subversive gem made at the height of the Brazilian military dictatorship, The Devil Queen is loosely inspired by the life of criminal boss João Francisco dos Santos, who also served as inspiration for 2002’s more widely seen Madame Satan.

Rio de Janeiro’s criminal underworld is run by an unexpected boss: Diaba, a femme Queen with a taste for power and violence. When the police are after her toy boy and Diaba tries to find a scapegoat to take the blame, a plot to dethrone Her Majesty arises! What Queen, however fabulous, can truly trust her subjects? Always clad in gloriously colourful outfits and accessories inspired by Afro-Brazilian culture, Diaba runs a mob of eccentric misfits comprised of drag queens, pimps, prostitutes, and queer people – some of the most marginalised people in Brazil during the military dictatorship that lasted from 1964 to 1985. The movie’s bold and audacious colour palette and camp aesthetic, combined with a sense of ‘guerrilla filmmaking’, reminds one of the early movies by Pedro Almodóvar. Its stylised and over-the-top violence could be described as Tarantino going through a queer fever dream.

Featuring a gloriously flamboyant central performance by Brazilian acting legend Milton Gonçalves, The Devil Queen is a daring movie that defied the censors and social mores during one of the most oppressive times in Brazilian history – with parallels to recent times making it as relevant as ever. Don’t miss this exciting discovery in the canon Latin American Black Queer Cinema, shown in the UK for the first time in a brand-new restoration. Brazilian Portuguese with English subtitles.

Event format: Doors open one hour before start times for socialising. Screening is preceded by an introduction and followed by a Q&A. Drinks and homemade food by the Electric Elephant Café available.

About The VITO Project Queer Film Club: The popular series has been running at The Cinema Museum since 2015, promoting a safe space to promote dialogue between different generations of LGBTQ+ people, allies, and film lovers. It takes its name after Vito Russo (1945-1990), New York-native a gay rights activist, film historian and author best known for his book The Celluloid Closet, a ground-breaking chronicle of the LGBTQ+ experience in film. Russo famously screened movies in a space for them to be discussed and debated, and the Project continues to honour his tradition at the historic Cinema Museum London.

Doors open at 17.00, for a 18.00 start.

Refreshments will be available in our licensed cafe/bar.


Tickets £8 in advance or on the door.

Advance tickets may be purchased from Ticketlab, or direct from the Museum by calling 020 7840 2200 in office hours.
The Devil Queen