? Women's International Film & Television Showcase

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TheWIFTS Foundation Diversity Award
To Die Like A Man

This very brave and controversial film is part shot in the deeply religious country of Portugal. It had an almost unsurmontable task to raise the finance. The film centers around Tonia, a veteran transsexual in Lisbon's drag shows, watches the world around her crumble.
Synopsis
Synopsis To Die Like A Man Once upon a time there was a war... In the darkness of the night, a young soldier goes AWOL. Tonia, a veteran transsexual in Lisbon's drag shows, watches the world around her crumble. The competition from younger artists threatens her star status. Under pressure from her young boyfriend Rosario to assume her female identity, the sex change operation that will transform her into a woman, Tonia struggles against her deeply-held religious convictions. If, on the one hand, she wants to be the woman that Rosario so desires, on the other, she knows that before God she can never be that woman. And her son, whom she abandoned when he was a child, now a deserter, comes looking for her. Tonia discovers that she's ill. To get away from all her troubles she travels to the countryside with Rosario, on the excuse of visiting his brother. Rosario takes the road of his childhood but will never find the right way. Lost, they find themselves in an enchanted forest, a magical world where they come across the enigmatic Maria Bakker and her friend Paula. And that meeting will turn their whole world on its head...

Maria Joao Sigalho
Producer
  
Maria Joao Sigalho has been a producer for Portugal based Rosa Filmes since 2002 during which time she has produced nine feature films, each dealing with dramatically different subject matter. For the extraordinary range of her vision and interests, especially the riveting and multi-award winning film Morrer Como Um Homem/To Die Like A Man, Maria is receiving TheWIFTS Foundation Diversity Award 2011.

Born in Mozambique, in 1973, Maria studied law at Lisbon University, followed by postgraduate studies in judicial proceeding sciences and the administration of the law at the Portuguese Catholic University. After working as a lawyer for 5 years, she spent 2 years producing theatre plays. Motivated to pursue production further, Maria was admitted in the master's program for cinema production and distribution at La Femis - Ecole National Superieure des Metiers d'Image et du Son in Paris.

In 2003, Maria produced Mulher Policia / Police Woman, which tells the story of a mother and a son who flee their home to avoid being separated from one another by state agencies who want to take the child from his mother as a result of various crimes he committed. Mulher Policia had its international debut in the Panorama section of the International Film Festival of Berlin. On the heels of this success, Maria was invited by the European Film Promotion and the Portuguese Film Institute to represent Portugal in the initiative Producers on the Move at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 2005, Maria produced the feature documentary Diarios da Bosnia / Bosnian Diaries about the horrors of the Balkan conflict and the feature film Odete / Two Drifters, which had its world premiere at the 37th Directors' Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival 2005. In 2006, Maria was the sole Portuguese producer invited to participate in the Copenhagen Think Tank on European Film and the European Film Policy.

Morrer Como Um Homem / To Die Like A Man (2009), which saw its world premiere at the 62nd Festival de Cannes – Un Certain Regard, captured a bevy of international awards and was the Portuguese Candidate for the Foreign Language Film Award 2011 by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles, CA. The film tells the story of a transvestite who tries to erase any past history of herself as a male, but dies before accomplishing her goal, ironically and tragically being interred with her male identity engraved on her headstone.

Maria's most recent productions O que ha de novo no Amor? / What's new about Love? and Deste Lado da Ressurreicao / This Side of Resurrection saw their world premieres at Indie Lisboa'11 and the Toronto International Film Festival 2011, respectively. Currently, Maria is producing two feature films, Rosto/The Face and A Vida do Avesso/Life Upside Down, and the feature documentary Joao Benard da Costa (working title).

In addition to her activity as a producer, Maria has also led numerous seminars, workshops and master classes on financing, production, distribution and promotion of films, invited by, among others, the State University of Kaliningrad in Russia, the Institute of Social and Political Sciences in Lisbon, and the Lisbon Film School. She has also participated as speaker in various conferences and round tables.



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