Rio Film Fest: 'Xenia' Wins Rio's First LGBT Prize


Panos H. Koutras' film topped the new Felix Awards

Panos H. KoutrasXenia won the best fiction category at the new Felix Awards, the Rio Film Festival’s first LGBT prizes, during a ceremony Monday at the CCBB cultural center in Rio de Janeiro.

An official selection in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes this year, Xenia follows teenage brothers Dany (Kostas Nikouli) and Odysseus (Nikos Gelia) as they travel through Greece in search of their father, looking to force him to officially recognize them.

A best documentary award went to Tie and Red Nail, Miriam Chnaiderman's inquiry into the construction of one's own body, led by Dudu Bertholini. A special jury prize was granted to Sophie Hyde’s 52 Tuesdays, winner of this year's Crystal Bear for best film at the Berlin International Film Festival as well as the best director award at Sundance.

Rio's re-elected federal deputy Jean Wyllys (a former Big Brother winner and Brazil's first gay-rights activist elected for Congress) was one of the presenters of the Felix Awards, which were picked from a list of nominees spread across the festival’s different sections, a first since the previous sidebar Gay World was dissolved this year when festival curators felt the need to integrate the films usually presented in that category. 

The LGBT films were analyzed by a jury presided over by Wieland Speck, head of the Berlinale's Panorama Section and co-creator of the Teddy Award. The jury was formed by scriptwriter João Emanuel Carmeiro (Central Station), Argentine filmmaker Albertina Carri — who also runs Buenos Aires' new Asterisco International LGBTIQ Film Festival — and director Malu de Martino (Margaret Mee e a Flor da Lua).

Brazil and the Felix awards appear to be in perfect cultural sync, as a gay-themed film will be the country's bid at the Oscars next year. Daniel Ribeiro's The Way He Looks, a gay coming-of-age story that won the Teddy Award and FIPRESCI prizes in the last Berlinale, was submitted to the Academy for the Foreign Language category.