Director: Henrique Goldman
Screenwriters: Ellis Freeman, Henrique Goldman

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


A magical fusion of Latin and Italian neorealism, Princesa, the second feature from Brazilian filmmaker Henrique Goldman, is a provocative and moving exploration of love, community, and the journey toward self-acceptance. Against the real-life backdrop of Milan's seedy red-light district (the world's largest market for transsexual prostitution), Goldman sets the stage for this unique Cinderella fable. At its core is Fernanda, a 19-year-old transvestite who dreams of becoming a woman, meeting a prince, and being swept off the streets, out of marginality, and into a euphoria of middle-class normalcy. Presenting a subject that is often vilified or sensationalized, Princesa adopts a gentle, poetic, and ultimately celebratory tone in illuminating the dreams, joys, and heartaches of extraordinary people venturing to realize an ordinary existence.

In the tradition of Antonioni, Goldman inscribes the language of modernism into his turbulent narrative; forgoing dialogue for image and allowing the chaotic, swirling hubbub of exterior life to reflect the alienation, ambiguity, and dissonance of his character's inner struggle. It is the silence as much as the words and action that bespeak Princesa's fragmented soul-searching. A profound and, at times, comedic exploration of the nature of sexuality and identity, Princesa gives voice to that dramatic moment and set of choices that forever alter a person's life and destiny. Featuring a late '60s aesthetic effected largely through superb photography and score and an extraordinary cast of mostly nonprofessional actors (many of whom are well-known transvestites in Italy), this is a film of deep passions and resonant preoccupations.

— Rebecca Yeldham

Screening Details

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