A terrific concept is given unimaginative treatment in Rodrigo Felha’s “Favela Gay,” a standard-issue documentary about very non-standard gays and lesbians living in the slums of Rio. With a title like this, viewers might expect the director to explore the relationship between sexual minorities and their environment, but instead such issues are largely minimized as Felha conducts fairly generic interviews, one person per favela. While the individuals are worthy of attention, the largely piecemeal structure disappoints; still, Rio fest auds felt otherwise, awarding it the public’s prize. The LGBT fest circuit will no doubt boost its visibility.
Scattered scenes of gay men being fabulous — who else could twerk while playing dodgeball? – partly relieve the otherwise perfunctory assemblage of interviews. All the subjects deserve further exploration, from transgender Martinha, who dates only straight men, to choreographer Carlinhos do Salgueiro, who resisted the drug-trafficking path of his family. Many turned tricks for a time; several were rejected by their parents. Only Gilmara Cunha, a counselor with Grupo Conexao G, working specifically with gay kids in the favelas, really addresses the reality of being queer in the slums. Tech credits are solid.