Adrian Russell Wills’ Black Divas has the same rough diamond quality that TV movies would have. It’s about the first Australian drag pageant to have contestants that are all Aboriginal Australians. It combines the footage of the actual pageant with music videos where the contestants lip sync to pop songs.
It also has the trappings documentaries capturing subcultures. There are scenes in slow motion to show off how fabulous each contestant is. Despite all of that, it’s nice to see them as part of a community. They gained an audience in their first year mounting an intense yet friendly competition.
This is a pageants of many firsts not just for the contestants and organizers but for the audience as well. One of the contestants is a straight man, which is rare in the drag world. One of the contestants is also experiencing their first time performing with other Aboriginal queens.
The talking head portions of the film are more interesting nonetheless. Those segments introduce us to contestants like Isla Fuk Yah and Crystal Love. Through them, we get to hear their struggles before they got to pageant level drag. And drag saves lives, helping them get through stages of depression.
The organizers also get their chance to be alone with the camera to discuss their experience. They organized the pageant to get other Aboriginal queens to give them a platform they wouldn’t otherwise get. They accomplished that as well as cement the sisterhood between established queens and new ones.
There are also scenes showing contestants in their home towns. Nova Gina is also dating a drag queen, and it’s a relief for her to be in that relationship. A part of the Aboriginal LGBTIQ experience is being a minority within a minority. Now she feels like she truly belongs.
- Genre: documentary
- Release Date: 10/20/2018
- Directed by: Adrian Russell Wills
- Produced by: Gillian Moody, Michaela Perske
- Studio: Kalori Productions, Pursekey Productions
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