Screened as part of NZIFF 2010

To Die Like a Man 2009

Morrer como um homem

Directed by João Pedro Rodrigues

This strikingly strange tale of a Lisbon drag queen’s late gender-identity crisis mixes realism, melodrama and delicate fantasy. “Pure enchantment… This is a beguiling, original and unclassifiable film.” — Sight & Sound

France / Portugal In Portuguese with English subtitles
133 minutes


Maria João Sigalho


João Pedro Rodrigues
Rui Catalão
João Rui Guerra da Mata


Rui Poças


Rui Mourão
João Pedro Rodrigues

Production designer

João Rui Guerra da Mata

Costume designer

Patrícia Dória


Nuno Carvalho


Fernando Santos (Tonia)
Alexander David (Rosário)
Gonçalo Ferreira de Almeida (Maria Bakker)
Chandra Malatitch (Zé Maria)
Jenny Larrue (Jenny)
Cindy Scrash (Irene)
Fernando Gomes (Teixeira)
Miguel Loureiro (Paula)
André Murraças (Dr Felgueiras)


Cannes (Un Certain Regard), Toronto, New York, Vancouver 2009; San Francisco 2010


Staggering and indescribably strange, João Pedro Rodrigues’ tale of a Lisbon drag queen’s late gender-identity crisis sets us up for grunge, angst and melodrama. And then draws us into a woodland fantasia where the spirits of Lewis Carroll and Oscar Wilde seem to preside, and the forest itself is in drag, uncertain of its true nature. — BG.

“The idea of biology as destiny is given a provocative slant in Rodrigues’ extravagant, darkly funny and ultimately moving melodrama. With her blonde wig and stout dimensions, Tonia resembles John Waters’ late muse, Divine, while the tragic air she carries could be cribbed from Dark Victory-era Bette Davis. In a surreal rural sequence that culminates in a spectacular red lunar eclipse, Tonia and drag diva friend Maria hunt the mythical snipe, but the most mythical creature in the woods might be Tonia herself as she straddles male and female worlds.” — Pam Grady, San Francisco International Film Festival