To Die Like a Man (2009/2011)

To Die Like a Man

Fernando Santos in TO DIE LIKE A MAN, a film by Joao Pedro Rodrigues. Picture courtesy Strand Releasing. All rights reserved.

Also Known As: Morrer Como Um Homem

Opened: 04/08/2011 Limited

IFC Center04/08/2011 - 04/14/20117 days

Genre: Portuguese Drama

Rated: Unrated

Short Synopsis

Tonia is a large-than-life drag icon of Lisbon's night life in the late 1980s. At the peak of her career, she meets and falls in love with Rosario, a young soldier who's gone AWOL. Under pressure from Rosario, Tonia begins a series of operations to become a woman but the final step proves much harder than she could have guessed. Torn between her love for Rosario and her deeply-rooted religious convictions, Tonia looks for distraction in a trip to the countryside with Rosario. Lost along the way, the couple find themselves in an enchanted forest where everything they think they know about life and love is proven wrong. Part melodrama, part phantasmagorical fairy tale, To Die Like A Man is visual extravaganza.

Long Synopsis

Once upon a time there was a war... In the darkness of the night, a young soldier goes AWOL.

Tonia, a veteran transsexual in Lisbon's drag shows, watches the world around her crumble. The competition from younger artists threatens her star status.

Under pressure from her young boyfriend Rosario to assume her female identity, the sex change operation that will transform her into a woman, Tonia struggles against her deeply-held religious convictions. If, on the one hand, she wants to be the woman that Rosario so desires, on the other, she knows that before God she can never be a woman. And her son, whom she abandoned when he was a child, now a deserter, comes looking for her.

Tonia discovers that she's ill. To get away from all her troubles she travels to the countryside with Rosario, on the excuse of visiting his brother. Rosario takes the road of his childhood but will never find the right way. Lost, they find themselves in an enchanted forest, a magical world where they come across the enigmatic Maria Bakker and her friend Paula.

And that meeting will turn their whole world on its head...

Director's Statement

This is a film about war. About a world at war, a war against the Self. But it is also a love story, about the love between Tonia and her friend, Rosario, a hitherto never seen "Romeo and Juliet".

TO DIE LIKE A MAN is inspired on personal accounts from transsexuals, drag artists, doctors, and showbiz people that I interviewed during the months when I was preparing to write this story. They helped anchor me to real life while I invented my characters and their pitiless world. Never intending to follow these stories closely, I adjusted my writing to the demands of the fictional development of the characters, entering into dialogue with the codes of musical comedy, melodrama, and tragedy.