Filipe Sholl Presents Primer Corte Title ‘Glória’



A chaotic and bittersweet love affair meets a compelling journey toward radical self acceptance in Brazilian writer-director Felipe Sholl’s second feature, “Glória,” which screens as part of Ventana Sur’s Primer Corte strand on Wednesday in Buenos Aires.

Produced by Daniel van Hoogstraten at Brazil’s Syndrome Films, the plot follows bereft literature professor Gabriel as he moves to Río in an attempt to escape his close minded family after the death of his grandmother. There, he meets the enigmatic Monica (Diva Menner) who owns the neighborhood bar and becomes fast friends with regulars Mateus (Alan Ribeiro), Roger (Sandro Aliprandini) and Laila (Jade Sassará), who moonlight as sex workers. Quickly devoured by a tumultuous relationship with reclusive Uruguayan transplant Adriano, his sense of intimacy and care is distorted as he tries to contort into versions of himself that quickly prove futile. 

With grace the themes are sewn together into a moving and cohesive plot inspired by Sholl’s life and the people who surrounded him during his own strenuous moment of grief that led him to unravel in similar ways. Gabriel’s character is a delicate mixture of Sholl and the men he encountered during that time. 10 years of sobriety and he’s able to look back on the experiences with clarity after constructing the highly intimate narrative.

“I think self love is the biggest takeaway I have from this bad period of my life. That’s what I tried to achieve with Gabriel’s journey. This path from being blinded by pain and making self-destructive choices to self-acceptance and love. I think that’s a very important issue in the queer community, as many of us tend to have low self-esteem due to homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of prejudice suffered. I hope queer people will identify with Gabriel’s emotional journey, even if their lives are completely different” Sholl tells Variety.

“Turning that big hot mess of personal material into a coherent film, that was the most difficult part. It took a lot of rewriting, and it was especially important to have other perspectives. When the material is that close to us, we can be blind to the obvious,” he adds.

The film opens as a car cruises along the highway at night, the Río skyline across the waterway as soft music trails the travel. The lens peers out from the window, capturing views of sex workers in pairs seeking clients as the auto enters the city center. As the film progresses, the trade is portrayed as both a risky and unfortunate way to earn a living and a way to maintain fierce agency, a duality that Sholl witnessed firsthand.

When we started developing the film, we did a lot of research, interviewing sex workers. Most of them have chosen the sex trade because their options were very narrow. Many were thrown out by their parents for being gay or trans. Most came from poor upbringings. For most I spoke to, the stigma of being queer helped drive them into a profession they didn’t want. But it’s something that protects them from poverty and social vulnerability,” he explains. 

Felipe Sholl

“We address the danger and hardship of this profession in the film. But we also wanted to address the other side. In Brazil and many other places, prostitution is legal. In the new generations, represented by Mateus, Roger and Laila, prejudice against sex workers is diminishing. Some sex workers in Brazil become influencers on Instagram, Twitter and OnlyFans. We want to portray sex work as it is, not romanticize nor stigmatize it. There can be a glamorous side to it, but it’s a difficult and dangerous profession. What matters most is to defend sex workers rights, and fight against prejudice.”  

At the center of the mayhem is The Glória, a bar that provides an instantly welcoming community to Gabriel and a space that morphs effortlessly from bar, to dance floor, to clandestine back room where patrons engage their carnal, oft-illicit desires. It’s a locale that acts as refuge, where like minds linger without judgment.

“These spaces are, and have always been, incredibly important for queer people. I’m lucky to come from a progressive and supportive family, but that’s not the case for many others who are rejected by their parents. We tend to create those places of belonging. Sometimes it’s a neighborhood, like Castro in San Francisco, the Village in New York. It can be a community brought together for a special purpose, like the Ballroom community, portrayed so well in the series ‘Pose’,” Sholl states.  

He went on: “When I lived in São Paulo, my street was an important spot for trans escort girls. In some of my worst moments they came to my rescue, even if they didn’t know me. Indianarae Siqueira, an important activist for sex workers rights, often talks about this. How places of prostitution, usually perceived with all sorts of prejudice, can also be places of protection and belonging. I was a white, cisgender, bourgeois guy, and still these women identified me as part of the community and went out of their way to help me.” 

Caio Macedo (“Toll”) and Alejandro Claveaux (“Maldivas”) anchor the cast as they aptly capture the intoxicating first moments of infatuation that carry over into lust, obsession, possession. Both animalistic and innocent, their twisted love showcases a rabid intensity, the relatable and gut-churning desperation for affection, palpable.

“When I saw them together, it was like a nuclear explosion,” Sholl admitted as he divulged that pinning down the leads was an arduous but rewarding task that paid off in the undeniable on-screen chemistry between Macedo and Claveaux.  

“I hope the love between them is something that a lot of people can identify with, not only queer people. That intense, irresistible attraction, the instant connection that blinds us to the rest of the world and sometimes leads us to make the wrong choices. Passion is more addictive than cocaine.” 


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