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BERLINALE 2008 Panorama

The fabulous world of Raquela


The fabulous world of Raquela

Raquela lives in Cebu City, in the Philippines. She is a "ladyboy", a queen born in a male body. Like her friends, she makes ends meet as a prostitute yet she dreams of a western prince charming who will marry her and take her away with him.

A modern-day Cinderella, Raquela does fulfill at least one of her dreams when she starts working for a chat line run by a young American, Michael, and on the Internet meets another Filipina who helps her move to Iceland. Although her stay in Reykjavik will not last long, Raquela will ultimately spend several unforgettable days in Paris.

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Received to lengthy applause by the packed press at its official screening in the Panorama section of the Berlinale, The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela by Icelandic filmmaker Olaf de Fleur Johannesson (see interview) is an entertaining and intelligent fiction film packaged as a documentary.

"I wanted to shoot a documentary,” said the director with subtle irony, “but then I got a lot of financing and had to decide what to do. Thus, the film was born!"

The film boasts a long list of production credits, ranging from Iceland’s Poppoli Film (run by de Fleur) and Blue Eyes Productions (belonging to Baltasar Kormákur) to Denmark’s Nimbus Film, with funding from the Icelandic Film Centre, the Nordisk Film & TV Fond and broadcasters DR and TV2 Norway.

For the delightful story of Raquela (played by the extraordinary ladyboy Raquela Rios), de Fleur brought together some of the most important names in Icelandic cinema: besides Kormákur, who executive produced, the film was edited by Dagur Kári, director of Noi the Albino.

Sales of the film – which exists in both a 56-minute television version and as a 90-minute theatrical release – are being handled by Germany’s Deckert Distribution.

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(Translated from Italian)

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