We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
A half-century before such films as Pixote and City of God unveiled the complex hierarchies and brutal potentates of Brazil’s shantytowns, Madame Satã (born João Francisco dos Santos) became one of the most famous characters in Rio de Janeiro’s bustling, shabby Lapa district. Perhaps taking his name from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1930 film, Madam Satan, dos Santos was a kickboxer, a nanny, a killer, a gay prostitute, a transvestite cabaret star, and the father of seven adopted children. Set in 1932, writer-director Karim Ainouz’s Madame Satã is loosely based on dos Santos’ colorful, seemingly contradictory exploits. The 2002 film uses the character of Momoone of the Afro-Brazilian protagonist’s wardsas well as flashbacks from dos Santos’ imprisonment for murder to sketch the story. The result, evocatively photographed by Walter Carvalho and lustily embodied by Lázaro Ramos’ performance as the title character, has been compared to a Genet novel. The film screens at 8 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s Ring Auditorium, 7th Street and Independence Avenue SW. Free. (202) 357-2700. (Mark Jenkins)