Agniia Galdanova / United States, France / 2023 / 98 min / International Premiere
21-year-old queer artist Gena looks like a visitor from another planet in her hometown in the far reaches of Russia, where she challenges everyone with her extravagant, homemade costumes – but her lone rebellion comes at a high price.
Like a young David Bowie from another planet, the whole world is one giant catwalk for intrepid 21-year-old queer artist Gena. She grew up in the far reaches of Russia, in a town built on top of an old gulag camp. Today, she stages her radical performances in supermarkets, metro stations and in the middle of Moscow streets in an alternative protest against the way LGBTQ+ people are treated in Putin’s extremely conservative Russia. People shout at her, and Gena calmly responds. With never-failing support from her grandmother, she acts out all the creatures that live inside her through her spectacular costumes, which she often makes out of tape and junk. Agniia Galdanova’s beautiful and atmospheric film is not so much a portrait as it is a direct cinematic extension of Gena’s inner universe. In other words, a film in the field between art and activism, between documentary and science fiction, and between an old and a young Russia.