Introduction: "Playback"

"Kalas's VHS recordings are part of the trans community's collective memory in Argentina, a gesture of resistance against oblivion."
Agustina Comedi

Agustina Comedi's Playback is now showing exclusively on MUBI starting June 7, 2023, in most countries in the series Brief Encounters.

I grew up in Córdoba, a conservative provincial city in Argentina. My family was quite unconventional, but that was a well-kept secret. However, everything changed after my father died, when I encountered the people who were a part of his life: his friends, ex-boyfriends, party partners, and even those he shared detention with. These people turned into my chosen family, my “uncles” and "aunts"; the elders who taught me both how to survive and to enjoy life. Among them was La Delpi, a tender queen who had been my father's last partner before marrying my mother. Our bond grew strong, and she offered me countless stories.

La Delpi created Grupo Kalas, a group of drag queens who defiantly resisted the police's oppressive tactics during the ’80s. Through their shows, they not only fought against their own imprisonment and torture, but also supported each other through family rejection and the sadness of losing one friend after another during the AIDS crisis. 

In 21st-century Argentina, trans people have a life expectancy of 35 years. Very few recorded images remain from that earlier era, and most of them didn't survive police raids. But La Delpi recorded every single show she performed for 20 years. She is now 68 years old, and she kept this footage well-preserved. Kalas's VHS recordings are not only an important part of the trans community's collective memory in Argentina, but also a gesture of resistance against oblivion.

We want to share this film with you because we believe that all of us might find some answers in the spells, the dreams, and the revolutions of these persecuted “aunts.” They remind us of the need to celebrate, to keep up the fight, and to love: three things that this agonizing era urgently demands.

Here is a video of Rosa Fumetto’s original show, performed by “La Brandan,” one of the members of Kalas who is no longer with us:

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