Frameline47: House of Izabel

  • Trans woman with a pearl necklace and luxurious earrings raises a glass of red liquid as she looks in the camera

A chanteuse, a Hollywood starlet, the first lady of Brazil: the guests of Casa Izabel are an eclectic group. In their day-to-day lives, they are regular middle-aged, male-presenting individuals, but their clandestine pilgrimages to Casa Izabel provide a temporary escape, allowing them to become the glamorous women they desire to be. At the isolated country estate owned by the infirm Norma Desmond-esque Izabel, they don wigs, make-up, gowns, and aliases to live openly for their short stay — tossing back champagne, dancing, and even hunting wild boar in their pumps. But in this cinematically bold and pulpy period melodrama, their carefree feminine fantasy is interrupted when the harsh realities of life under Brazil’s military dictatorship threaten to expose dangerous secrets and destroy the beloved Casa Izabel.

The brilliantly photographed vintage 1960s aesthetic of House of Izabel is loosely inspired by the real-life American cross-dressing retreat Casa Susanna (also screening at Frameline47). But in the deliciously fictional House of Izabel, director Gil Baroni — following up his colorful trans coming-of-age film Alice Júnior (Frameline44) — and his stellar ensemble cast deliver a post-modern colonialist critique wrapped in wonderfully dark-hued camp.

Special guest: director Gil Baroni

Presented as part of Frameline47 International Film Festival.

1h 24m
Gil Baroni
Portuguese with English subtitles
First Showing
June 19, 2023