Camila José Donoso’s Casa Roshell transports us into a world that intentionally exists outside of prying eyes. Founded by activist Roshell Terranova and bearing her name, this Mexico City establishment is part bar and part community center. It’s a place where men can come and indulge in desires many may have told them are illicit. For a modest fee, they can come in, shed their stubble, paint their face, don a wig, slap on a dress, and test out what it feels like to wear heels. At Casa Roshell, there’s no judgment: cross-dressing is celebrated as an intimate part of who these men are.
The film, which already played at the Berlinale and at the Buenos Aires Film Festival, has just released its first trailer, aptly scored by the classic Olga Guillot tune, “Soy Lo Prohibido”—the better to initiate viewers into the dimly-lit world of Casa Roshell. From the trailer, it becomes clear that the Chilean director has shot these made-up women with the kind of glamor they no doubt hope to embody. Respecting the privacy that the space affords them, she has nevertheless coaxed several into sharing their stories for all to see.
Moreover, it looks like the doc won’t be shy about using this private club as a symbol of the fluidity of gender and sexuality that characterizes those who frequent it. We may look at these kind of places as nurturing a kind of closeted existence, reminiscent of a time when the LGBTQ community had to hide in secluded safe spaces. However, there’s a rather radical vision of labels and identities going on within these red walls. “You are not gay,” a woman says in the trailer (to a man, we presume). “You’re still straight. You’ve just found out there’s a new kind of woman out there. Because that’s what we are as well: women.”
Take a peek at what happens inside Casa Roshell in the full trailer below.