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Interview: Daniel Ribeiro on His International Hit Film 'The Way He Looks'

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New student Gabriel (Fabio Audi) and his blind classmate Leo (Ghilherme Lobo) in "The Way He Looks"

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

Nine months after its debut at the Berlinale festival, the gay Brazilian hit THE WAY HE LOOKS (reviewed earlier at Towleroad) is still collecting the hearts of audiences everywhere it shows. And that's a lot of places now. After theatrical runs in France and Brazil it's currently playing in multiple US cities, in the UK and Hong Kong and soon expands to Taiwan and Sweden. This super charming coming-of-age movie charts the slow blooming romance between Leo, a blind student, and Gabriel, the new kid in town. Leo's best girl friend Giovana (Tess Amorim) doesn't react well. If you haven't seen it yet, seek it out. You'll have a new favorite to add to your Best Gay Movies list.

Daniel+Ribeiro+Film+Maker+Afternoon+Tea+bbFC0__pR3ClThose who've already fallen for its assured storytelling and sensitive acting might be surprised to hear that it's the debut feature of not only its young writer/director but also its principle trio of actors. 

I spoke with the 32 year old director Daniel Ribeiro this week about his breakout film which has been selected by Brazil to represent them at the Oscars. 

NR: You’ve been getting great reviews, awards, and audience response since the premiere. Is this the best year of your life or what?

DANIEL RIBEIRO: Probably, yeah! [Laughter] It’s been really exciting.

How did you feel when your film was selected to compete for the Foreign Language Film Oscar?

It was surprising. It's a very political choice for our country. Even if we don’t get selected, it is the film that is talked about now.  

Brazil -- we’re in an interesting place. We have a lot of visibility. People are talking about the issues. Young kids are more comfortable about being out. But we have a lot of problems with LGBT rights. We have a very conservative congress and we have a lot of homophobe congressmen staying stupid things.

That sounds familiar! 

MORE AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay-Themed Brazilian Film 'The Way He Looks' to Open in U.S. on Friday: Exclusive Clip

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Earlier this year, two of Towleroad's film reviewers spoke highly of the Brazilian film The Way He Looks, which won the FIPRESCI Prize and Berlin's Teddy Award, as well as audience awards at Frameline, Outfest, and Newfest.

The film opens in New York and nationwide tomorrow (list of cities here), and the filmmakers have offered us a short exclusive clip (apologies, it's a night scene and a bit on the dark side) to share with you. You can also view the trailer in our earlier discussions of the film HERE and HERE.

The film is about Leo, a blind, bullied teen who decides to study abroad to escape his problems at home but reconsiders when he develops a crush on Gabriel, a new kid in town.

In this scene Leo, played by newcomer Ghilherme Lobo, comes out to his best friend Giovana (Tess Amorim) who may already be in love with him.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Our film critic Nathaniel Rogers also has a review on his site, The Film Experience.

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Brazil No-Hope Presidential Candidate Goes On Televised Homophobic Rant

Levy Fidelix

The penultimate televised debate before next weekend’s presidential election was overshadowed by a homophobic rant by fringe candidate Levy Fidelix, reports The Guardian.

Fidelix, a conservative and former journalist with no hope of winning, was entitled to almost as much screentime as the leading candidates.

On the Sunday debate, he said that gay people “need psychological care” and are better kept “well away from” other people.  He also suggested that Brazil’s population would be reduced by half if homosexuality were encouraged because “the excretory system” does not function as a means of reproduction.

Although his comments went unremarked upon by the three main candidates – including former environment minister Marina Silva, who earlier this month reversed her support for same-sex marriage – his insults and the other candidates' failure to address them quickly dominated post-debate discussion on social networks. 

According to the most recent polls, incumbent Dlima Rousseff will win the first round on October 5th and then face a run-off with Silva on October 26th.


Brazilian High School Students Wear Skirts To Support Transgender Classmate

Maria muniz

Students at a Brazilian high school have shown their support for a transgender fellow student by wearing skirts for a day, reports NewNowNext.

17-year-old Maria Muniz says she never felt happy as a boy and decided to come out as transgender by wearing a skirt to school. However, she was fined by a teacher and also forced to wear trousers.

Speaking about the support she has received from her classmates, Muniz said:

“I am really happy about the way my classmates supported me and I hope it serves as an example to others to feel encouraged to do the right thing. I was always taught at school to accept who you are, I am only trying to live that.”

Photos of the student protest have since gone viral. Twitter users are showing their support for Maria and her classmates with the hashtag #VouDeSaia, meaning "I'm going in a skirt" or "wearing a skirt." (Check out current tweets using ther hashtag #VouDeSaia HERE).

The school’s principal has since revealed he is considering relaxing the dress code:

“It is not about orientation. All our students are equal. The uniform determines male and female clothing, but we will study a new manual of coexistence.”


This Map Shows Where Gay Couples Can Marry Across Latin America: INTERACTIVE

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BY IOAN GRILLO / GlobalPost

Coahuila, a Mexican state near Texas, is the newest place in the region to legalize gay marriage. But there are still some countries that ban homosexuality.

MEXICO CITY — Latin America is a staunchly conservative Catholic region with a deeply entrenched culture of machismo and homophobic attitudes. Right?

Not quite.

After sweeping reforms in the last five years, the region possesses some of the most gay-friendly legislation on the planet.

CoahuilaIn the latest move, lawmakers in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila on Sept. 1 voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

This change in a state known for cowboy hats, cattle farmers and coal mines means gay marriages will be able to be celebrated right up to the Rio Grande.

Like the United States, Mexico's been making these moves locally, rather than federally. But other Latin countries have passed reforms on a national level.

In fact, Latin America is home to three of the more than a dozen nations that have legalized gay marriage worldwide. Same-sex couples can even marry as far south as Argentina — a remarkable feat in the pope’s homeland. The region's reforms are largely passed by leftist governments, but that’s not always the case. Coahuila’s bill was backed by the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), while leftist stalwarts such as Venezuela are falling behind on gay rights.

There are still some strongholds bucking the trend. Take Belize, where even being homosexual remains illegal. Caribbean islands also maintain a ban, with Jamaica punishing male homosexual acts by seven years' hard labor (but allowing sex between females).

Homophobic violence also persists, even in some countries with progressive legislation.

However, overall the map has transformed markedly in favor of gay and lesbian rights, and it looks set to keep changing. Take a tour:

Map by Alex Leff.


Brazil Presidential Candidate Reverses Support For Same-Sex Marriage - VIDEO

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Marina Silva, who is expected to oust Dilma Rousseff as President of Brazil in an October election, has backtracked on an earlier promise to support same-sex marriage, reports Yahoo! News.

In May, Brazil authorized notaries to begin approving same-sex marriages nationwide.

Silva is an ecologist and evangelical Christian who holds conservative views on abortion and same-sex marriage.  Last Friday, her campaign team published a manifesto that included a direct pledge to “back proposals defending civil marriage.” However, the following day her team sent out a “clarification” removing the word “marriage” and asserting that she will “defend rights relating to civil unions between same-sex couples.”

Blaming an “editorial error,” Silva said the text published was not the text which had been discussed.

According to Telesur, the new version of the text also substitutes the objective of “eliminating obstacles to child adoption for homo-affective couples" with demanding “equal treatment to couples who adopt.”

However, Silva reiterated that she remains “committed to the defense of the lay state, defence of personal freedom and the respect of religious freedom. The lay state is there to defend the interests of all, the interests of those who believe or do not, independent of their social standing or sexual orientation."

Although Rousseff called Silva's government manifesto “adventurous, obscurantist, and backward,” the incumbent previously backtracked on a plan to distribute anti-homophobia kits to schools.

Watch an interview with Silva, AFTER THE JUMP...

 

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