Gena, a queer artist from a small town in Russia, dresses in otherworldly costumes made from junk and tape, and protests the government on the streets of Moscow. Born and raised on the harsh streets of Magadan, a frigid outpost of the Soviet gulag, Gena is only 21. She stages radical performances in public that become a new form of art and activism. By doing that, she wants to change people’s perception of beauty and queerness and bring attention to the harassment of the LGBTQ+ community. The performances—often dark, strange, evocative, and queer at their core — are a manifestation of Gena’s unconscious. But they come at a price.
The Garden Cinema View:
Queendom is a powerful documentary which operates on multiple levels. At the film’s core is Gena, a brave, angry, talented LGBTQI+ activist living in a remote part of Russia. Following her life and work, we gain rare insight into the mounting struggles faced by the LGBTQI+ people in Russia, up to and including crackdowns on public protest during the early days of the invasion of Ukraine.
Gena is also an exceptional visual artist, seamlessly blending activism and aesthetics with rare clarity of purpose.
The cinematography of Queendom is at times just as stunning as Gena's practice. This is especially evident when capturing the contrast between the frozen, impoverished setting of far Eastern Russia and Gena's extravagant costumes and choreography.