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The film is based on the real person João Francisco dos Santos (1900-1976), better known by the name of Madame Satã. He was a 1.78 meter black man weighing 88 kilos of muscle. In turn a bandit, a transvestite, streetfighter, cook, hero, convict and father to seven adopted children. Satã spent most of his years on the hot streets of Lapa, the Montmartre of the tropics, the bohemian Rio.
“Madame Sata” is a portrait of this complex, explosive character who was a generous master, cruel traitor, devoted lover and tender, warm adoptive father. He was a passionate character carried along by his urgent determination to survive. The film also relates the emergence of the vibrant, urban Afro-Brazilian culture of Rio de Janeiro in the years following the abolition of slavery in Brazil (1888). This culture of resistance and utopia was a reaction to a society that left no place for its former slaves. “Madame Sata” offers a fresh look at a crucial moment for the Afro-Brazilian diaspora, a forgotten period in the annals of official history.
In 1928, Sata finally lived out his dream of becoming a theater star. He created a character, a sensual mulatto woman, and performed in a Lapa cabaret. His violent, difficult and miserable life seemed to at last be on the right path. But then, one evening after leaving the cabaret, he stopped in at the Danube Bleu, his favorite Lapa bar… Karim Aïnouz