Africa

On African island, ‘Tchindas’ goes beyond LGBTI acceptance

Harry Vaughn (left), Outfest senior programmer, poses for photographers with Marc Serena, co-director of "Tchindas," before the the film's premiere at Outfest on July 15. (Colin Stewart photo)

Harry Vaughn (left), Outfest senior programmer, poses for photographers with Marc Serena, co-director of “Tchindas,” before the the film’s premiere at Outfest on July 15. (Colin Stewart photo)

 

When I saw the premiere of “Tchindas” earlier this month, I expected to see a documentary about LGBTI people who were accepted by their neighbors in a tolerant community of the Cape Verde islands, off the coast of West Africa.

That would have been an amazing contrast to the violent homophobia and transphobia that infects dozens of African countries.

But I saw much more than that. Those neighbors weren’t just accepting, but positively enthusiastic about joining with the LGBTI team that was preparing their annual float for the island’s Carnival parade. Parents brought their children to rehearsals for the lines of dancers who would march alongside the float. If possible, they wanted their daughters positioned as mermaids kneeling at the front of the float, between swaying trans women.

Pablo Garcia with Tchinda Andrade (Photo courtesy of Tchindas.com)

Co-director Pablo Garcia with Tchinda Andrade (Photo courtesy of Tchindas.com)

Everyone relied on the wisdom and strength of will of Tchinda Andrade, a trans woman who came out in the late 1990s and fought for the community’s respect.  As one neighbor said, “Tchinda rules. End of story.” She’s so well known that the community calls every LGBTI person a “Tchinda.”

At OutFest, “Tchindas” won the Documentary Feature Special Recognition award.

A review in the Hollywood Reporter called it “a vivid and loving vérité portrait” that “reveals a seamless fusion of tradition and open-hearted acceptance”:

The documentary “zeros in on one neighborhood’s communal transformation for the annual event, finding at its center the spirited creative leadership of a trio of transgender and gay residents. As the film’s title reflects, the name of one of those figures, the transgender woman Tchinda Andrade, has become the local term for LGBTQ people.

“Tchinda is an elder stateswoman of sorts, having come out publicly in 1998, at a time when, as she tells some of her younger friends, ‘all homosexuals were in the closet. A revered resident of a working-class corner of the city of Mindelo, … she tends bar in her modest eatery, sometimes with a neighbor’s baby in her arms, and takes to the streets, hips swiveling and voice booming, to hawk the finger food coxinhas. … [The] feel of community and interdependence is fully alive in co-director Perez’s intimate fly-on-the-wall camerawork in houses, shops and on the cobbled streets.”

For more information, read the full review.

Watch this blog for news about future showings of “Tchindas.”

8 thoughts on “On African island, ‘Tchindas’ goes beyond LGBTI acceptance

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