The City of Abysses

Priscyla Bettim, Renato Coelho

IndieLisboa 2021 •

Brazil, Fiction, 2021, 96′

Maya is accompanied by Glória, her best friend, who promises that she will always be with her, into a clandestine appointment. Both trans women, Maya wants silicone, but a timely intervention leads her to change her mind. When they leave, it’s Christmas night and it’s pouring rain. They take refuge in a bar, owned by a Nigerian refugee named Kakule. Bia also takes refuge there, fed up with constant fights with her boyfriend. And so their paths cross.

“I’m gonna pretend I am in a chase film”, says Glória, a trans woman and a prostitute. The reality of São Paulo is such that pretending is all she has, being no more than a hallucination against the hostile cityscape. The film grain somehow turns Glória and the other rejects, Maya, Bia and Kakule, more real, their ghostly presence imprinted on a physical device and projected back into the world. Priscyla Bettim and Renato Coelho make with their first feature a Molotov cocktail of the most expressive moments of Brazilian cinema, from Peixoto’s surrealism to the saturated colors of pornochanchadas and bold political action of Cinema Novo, thus giving the protagonists many possible lives. There will be blood, and horror, and delirium, there will be love, alliance and fight for justice. Could there be, though, a happy ending in The City of Abysses? (Anastasia Lukovnikova)